Trees Atlanta planting, Saturday, Oct. 18

Taming the Wild Hillside Along Dekalb Ave.

A little over a year ago, the Land Trust Board asked Trees Atlanta if they would be interested in taking on the DeKalb Ave. side of the Land Trust as a project. Because the long hillside faces a public right of way, and because more planting in Lake Claire was already in the plan for 2014, the answer was “yes.” After Alex Beasley met with Board members and walked the property, we were on our way.

But it took more than a meeting to get us to the October 18 planting day. First the hillside had to be cleared of the brambles, weeds and vines that have made managing this space so difficult for us over the years. Days were spent in the hot summer sun by dedicated friends of the Land Trust, pulling, hacking, and battling stinging things to prepare for planting. We appreciate their hard, sweaty work.

Deciding what trees to plant took careful consideration. Height requirements had to be considered so the garden plots at the top of the slope would not be shaded. Access to the billboards had to be maintained. Of course sidewalks and visibility were planned for, too.

When volunteer landscape architect Leah Pine met with Alex Beasley about design, they learned that federal guidelines exist for planting under and near transformers. Leah helped Alex out by meeting with a Georgia Power representative to ensure that the chosen trees complied with the law.

Because of these restrictions, most of the selected native trees are low-rising and will eventually make a nice thicket for wildlife and birds. They will also make the drive down DeKalb more pleasant for commuters.

Finally Alex had to get approval from the city arborist, and we were ready to plant. Planting will take place on Sat., October 18, from 9:00 am to noon. Alex has recruited a large corporate group of volunteers from Buckhead to come plant, mulch and water, so we do not have to put out a call for neighborhood volunteers that day. (There are other volunteer opportunities this month – see boxed invitation below.) But you are welcome to join us.

If you do come, please keep the cul-de-sac open for Trees Atlanta trucks and equipment. Park at Clifton Sanctuary if you drive. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring drinking water. No experience is necessary, but plan to work the full three hours. Trees Atlanta will bring shovels and gloves and give a planting demonstration at the start of the morning.

From experience I can say that planting is hard work, but rewarding when you go by a tree you planted and know you contributed to making our neighborhood and city even more beautiful.

The Land Trust owes a big thank-you to Leah, our neighbor on Arizona Ave. and a registered landscape architect and certified arborist, who donated her time and skills to make this project happen. She also donated a design for the next phase – a planting of native grasses in the spring of 2015 that will allow access for the utility people without obscuring the billboards. Jane Merkle, a retired landscape architect and classmate of Leah’s who lives on Connecticut, was also a big help. They spent a lot of time calling nurseries to track down certain trees and working with design changes to fit Trees Atlanta’s budget limitations.

To learn more about Trees Atlanta or to volunteer, visit Leah can be reached at or 404-428-2365.

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