Travis Watson, campus arborist at East Tennessee State University, and Chase Giebner, representative at Bartlett Tree Experts, knew this ploy when planning this year’s Arbor Day event Friday afternoon.
So what better way to draw a crowd and possible volunteers than to hand out saplings on a holiday dedicated to planting and caring for trees.
Bartlett Tree Experts, a professional tree-service company in Johnson City, donated 75 Flowering Dogwood and Swamp White Oak saplings on a first-come, first-served basis to anyone who showed up.
“There was already a line before we even got here,” Giebner said. “They went really quick, within five minutes.”
Approximately 30 people attended the event in the Dwarf Conifer Garden located on the east side of the ETSU/Mountain States Health Alliance Center.
Leslie Little, a Johnson City resident, was one of the those standing in line who got a Swamp White Oak sapling.
“We had a tree fall over so we were looking to put something back in its place,” said Little, who’s a first-time tree planter. “So the White Oak will be good, and my kids will be really excited to plant something. They’re young, so they’ll have the opportunity to see it grow.”
Little, along with the others, were provided with a handout detailing the process of planting and maintaining the saplings.
Watson also briefed the crowd with instructions and answered any questions before the giveaway.
Giebner said the cost of each seedling ranged between $5 to $10, but could be lower if bought in bulk.
Some of those who received saplings struck around to help Watson and his assistant, Jeff Story, plant dwarf conifers in the tree garden.
Story offered these tips when planting a tree: Don’t bury the sapling too deep and keep it ground level or above, Dig the hole two times the size of the container the sapling came out of and water it at least once a day for a couple weeks while it adapts to the new environment.
Watson said ETSU celebrates Arbor Day every year with a tree planting, but this was the first tree giveaway in several years.
Giebner said his company hopes to continue the tradition of handing out saplings at ETSU’s Arbor Day celebration since so many people showed up.
Another sapling giveaway will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Carver Recreation Center as part of the 2016 Arbor Day Festival sponsored by the Northeast Tennessee Master Gardener Association, the Johnson City Power Board and Appalachian Sustainable Development.
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