Earth Week Tree Planting: Thank You, Volunteers!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Five volunteers from Naperville Bank & Trust spent Wednesday morning, April 20, at Sportsman's Park planting 10 native trees along the path through the restored prairie. It was a cold, overcast, windy morning, but the rain held off. Park District staff member Rachael had set the trees in the desired locations and supplied tools. The volunteers dug in (literally) and worked together to plant each tree.

The Process

Volunteers Kim and Amy (L to R) get ready to dig around the 3 catalpa trees where they are placed.

Volunteers Jennifer, Amy and Kim start digging around the trees, allowing about twice the width of the ball and burlap.

Cutting through the thick, prairie sod is hard work, calling for a jump start for extra force by volunteers Heather and Saharay.

Once the sod is loosened, it takes a joint effort to lift it out of the soil. Staff member Rachael took the discarded sod pieces and later planted them in the prairie at Meadow Glens, as the prairie sod from Sportsman's Park is good quality.

Digging the exposed clay soil requires persistence. The goal is to dig the hole the same depth as the root ball, so that the top of the root ball will be level with the ground when planted.

Once the hole is ready, the volunteers start removing the burlap around the tree roots.

Next, they cut away the plastic lining from the root ball.

Park specialist Rachael trims away the remains of the burlap.

The tree is ready to plant!

The tree is planted, with soil spread evenly around it.

Thank you, Naperville Bank and Trust! This team did great work, and we are grateful to them and to the next team of volunteers from the bank who planted the remaining 17 trees on May 2, 2022.

From L to R: Tom, Jennifer, Nick, David, Beth, Jimmy, Matt and Jim

About the Trees

Volunteers are planting seven different species of trees. The larger trees include pecan and shagbark hickory, providing nuts or seeds for wildlife, attracting birds and butterflies, and providing shade. Chinkapin oaks have shiny, dark green leaves and produce sweet acorns for many wildlife species. The medium sized trees include Northern Catalpa, with white, showy flowers, dangling bean pods and giant heart-shaped leaves; Common Persimmon, with large, edible fruit and attractive autumn color; and Black Cherry, with showy, white flowers in spring and pea-sized fruits in late summer. These trees all attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. Finally, Bald Cypress will be planted overlooking the pond and will furnish seeds for birds and small mammals.

About the Park

Sportsman's Park is a 27-acre park that includes prairie and wetland restoration areas, two ponds, a one-mile trail through the natural areas, a small building and a trap-shooting range that operates Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Site improvements in 2014 have allowed the previously closed off natural area to be opened to public use both for recreation and education. Adding a variety of native trees is important to restoring the biodiversity of the Sportsman's Park natural areas. Most of the trees will be planted near the trail so that visitors can enjoy their beauty, variety and shade.

How to Plant a Tree

Spring and fall are the best times to plant trees in northern Illinois. This video from Trees Forever explains step-by-step how to plant a tree, whether in a container, a bare root, or bag and burlap, like the trees our volunteers planted. For a quick visual guide, check the planting instructions provided by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Volunteer Opportunities at Naperville Park District

Interested in participating in a similar park project or helping in some other way? The Naperville Park District relies on volunteers for a variety of projects and programs. Learn more here. See a list of current volunteer needs, information about adopting a park, registering as a volunteer, and more.