Joelle Teachey, Executive Director and Arborist, TreesUpstate

by Joelle Teachey, Executive Director and Arborist, TreesUpstate

We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 in various ways.

TreesUpstate, formerly known as TreesGreenville, was founded in 2005. Our mission is simple: to plant, promote, and protect trees. All of our work is mission based and the direct services we provide to the Upstate are rooted in planting and maintaining a healthy tree canopy.

We plant trees in parks, schools, and neighborhoods.

We promote the public health, social, economic and environmental benefits of trees. 

We protect trees through forest restoration, by providing technical support, and by training industry professionals on best management practices.

Why trees? Trees cool and clean the air. Shade trees reduce the formation of ground level ozone. Trees help us stay in attainment of National Air Quality Standards. Trees reduce stormwater runoff. Trees are quietly working hard for us every day.

During these unprecedented times we have shifted, adapted and prioritized. Our most pressing priorities are: 1). taking care of our trees, 2). planning our next planting season that begins in October, 3). rescheduling our postponed TreesUpstate’s Energy Saving Trees Giveaways presented by Duke Energy, and 4). planning our 12th annual TreesUpstate Turkey Day Run on Thanksgiving morning.

TreesUpstate is planting and maintaining a healthy urban and community forest which requires time, commitment, understanding, expertise, staff, and funding. Staff and funding is where TreesUpstate has been impacted the most. This past spring we were going to launch a very specific public tree planting campaign to raise funds to plant and maintain trees along a popular Greenville destination. The launch of this tree planting campaign didn’t seem right in the midst of a global pandemic. Stay tuned. When the time is right you’ll learn about how you can get involved. Looking ahead, community support will be critical for TreesUpstate to continue to provide direct urban forestry services that positively impact the entire Upstate.

During the past few summers we’ve had a Youth Tree Care Crew that watered, weeded, mulched, fertilized, and pruned trees that TreesUpstate planted along the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, at Greenville County Schools, and in Greenville County parks and greenspaces. Because of social distancing guidelines we were unable to hire a Youth Tree Care Crew. It didn’t seem right to have a group of teenagers driving around in a truck together this summer. Our newly planted trees still need to be watered though. And our trees still require maintenance. As a solution we’ve installed hydration systems on our newly planted trees and hired a seasonal Tree Care Technician to help care for our trees this summer.

Despite COVID-19 TreesUpstate is still here. TreesUpstate raises every $1 we have. Thanks to all of our Corporate Partners, Turkey Day 8k Sponsors & runners, donors, and volunteers, we have planted and given away over 16,000 trees! Together, we are making a difference.

Lastly, as an arborist I feel compelled to give you a few quick takeaways:

  • We get benefits from mature trees.
  • We have to properly plant and maintain trees so they live to maturity.
  • The most common mistakes we see are that trees are NOT being properly planted and maintained. And this is very, very, common.
  • A properly planted tree should show its trunk flare and its first main lateral root at or slightly above ground level. 
  • Mulch should only be 2 to 4 inches deep and it should never touch the trunk of a tree.
  • Trees should never be topped (the only exception is utility pruning). 

Learn more about us at TreesUpstate.org