Mars Hill Tree Planting Project

January 23, 2019

Oconee County Begins Tree Planting Project to Beautify Mars Hill Corridor

Total of 761 trees will be added to the landscape by this spring

Mars Hill Tree Planting Illustrative Rendering Section 4b

Oconee County Government will embark on a major tree planting project along the Mars Hill Corridor to beautify this well-traveled path through the county. Planting is expected to begin within a few weeks.

A total of 761 trees will be planted in medians and rights-of-way within a 60-day window that will conclude in mid-March, weather-permitting. Fifty different tree species and cultivars, including elms, cedars, dogwoods, redbuds, oaks, and maples will be planted. Major trees will be spaced 50 feet apart throughout the length of the corridor, with secondary trees interspersed to provide color and seasonal interest. The trees, which were chosen with an emphasis on native species that will grow well in local soil, will provide color and foliage this year and will become well-established with greater size and stature over a ten-year timeline.

A committee made up of interested citizens with a variety of backgrounds has been in the planning process since March 2018 and has been responsible for choosing and siting the trees. Among the committee members are tree expert, author, and University of Georgia Professor Emeritus Dr. Michael Dirr, Landscape Architect Ken Beall, Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission Executive Director Cindy Pritchard, and Oconee County Chairman John Daniell. Additional committee members also made valuable contributions throughout the process. The committee began their work by creating a base map using drone fly-over images to choose ideal tree sites, while ensuring that they did not interfere with fire hydrants, storm drains, or other components of the existing infrastructure. The committee was then able to choose and tag trees last March in order to get a prime selection of quality trees to plant this year.

After the trees are planted, they will be watered, mulched, and staked as needed. Tree care will be provided by Nasworthy Landscaping and Irrigation, Inc., for the first year, during which the trees are guaranteed, and will be replaced at no cost if they fail. After the first year, Oconee County will contract with tree care experts for management of the trees.

“Oconee County has been committed to getting this project done the right way, with original thinking and a sense of appropriate timing,” said Dr. Dirr. “The Mars Hill Corridor Arboretum is a unique project that will serve as a model for other communities.”

“It is exciting to have some tree species in this project with unique connections to our community,” said Ms. Pritchard. “For example, the green ash tree known as the “Georgia Gem” originated in McNutt’s Creek, was taken to the West Coast to be propagated, and will now find a home along Mars Hill.”

“The Mars Hill tree planting project will create a parkway that residents can be proud of,” said Oconee County Chairman John Daniell. “We are pleased to be able to add these trees to our community with a well-thought out plan for their placement and care. We are grateful for the expertise and dedication of our committee members in seeing this project through to completion.”