Riparian Zone Planting

The several days of planting along the riparian zone buffers, have been rainy and muddy. Perfect weather for planting trees.

These are all native species plants, so they should grow well and protect the stream habitat by sinking their roots into the ground and providing a multi-layer canopy to shade the water and keep it cool.

Donned in full weather rain gear, we loaded up the John Deere Gator with seedlings, shovels and the dogs, and headed upstream. On the first day, between heavy rain showers, we were able to plant the bare root seedlings, 25 grand fir, 50 big leaf maple, 100 dogwood.

The area that we were planting was under water during the flood in December and we were digging holes for the plants in 12 inches or more of silt deposit, with reedy canary grass growing through it. There are also trees down in the area, and old snags that had washed in during the high water. Not an easy trek, but it was flat ground as opposed to planting on the hillside where one has to brace themselves from falling down the hill while digging holes.

Yellow violets were peeking out from under the layer of silt, I saw bleeding hearts and trilliums, and stinging nettles about a foot tall. The wild roses have new thorns and would catch at the fabric of our rain gear as we walked by. The leaves are unfurling on the buck brush and snow berries. The salmonberries and thimble berries are just starting to poke up through the silt.

Second day of planting was the seedlings in pots. The pots are unusual looking, 4 inches by 4 inches and 12 inches deep. The pots are this deep to keep the roots from turning or ‘J rooting’. Each hole has to be dug a minimum of 14 inches deep to keep the roots growing correctly once in the ground. These plants are very heavy with all the extra soil in the pots. A box of 25 weighs about 100 lbs., and they need to be kept upright until ready to plant or the soil will fall away from the top of the seedling. It is much slower planting. We were only able to plant 25 cedar and 25 Doug Fir on this day.

There were very few sun breaks on this day of planting with some really heavy showers in-between. Most of the planting was interrupted by taking off jackets and then putting them back on with each shower. As I was re-dressing for another shower, I looked over to the Gator and saw one dog snug and dry, laying under the front end and Mike trying to stay dry, laying under the back end tailgate!

The third day of planting finished off this year riparian planting with 25 alder trees. This is cutting it close to the end of the month, we always try to have all trees planted before the 1st of April so the plants have enough time to get their roots established before the summer.


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