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Residents can have yards certified as 'home arboretum'

Program goal: 300 canopy trees planted in the area in the next year

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LAURIE STEVENSON/THISWEEKNEWS
Jackson Vanlandingham, 1, of Clintonville doesn't let the rain dampen his spirits as he splashes through a puddle during the Pawpaw Festival, held Saturday, Sept. 21, in the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum on Weber Road. The fest celebrates the sweet, creamy pawpaw, Ohio's official state native fruit.
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Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum officials will begin a program this fall to offer certification for homes that have the right kind and number of -- what else -- trees.

The program has been in the works for the past couple of years, said Mike McLaughlin, president of the arboretum, which seeks to restore native trees to public spaces in Clintonville and the Glen Echo area. The arboretum is centered around Indianola Informal K-8 School on Weber Road, with information at a kiosk across the street from the school.

The number and type of trees, whether canopy or understory, for example, required for home certification is based on lot size and configuration as well as the structures on the property.

"We came up with our own standards, and the purpose is to get more trees planted in the arboretum," McLaughlin said. "Probably one of the greatest challenges within the arboretum is the lack of canopy trees in the backyard, and to get this certification, you will need that canopy tree."

The standards require trees in not only the front and back yards of a home but also in the tree lawns -- the city-owned right of way between the sidewalk and street.

Those interested in participating in the Arboretum Certified Home Program may apply at the arboretum's website, lowerolentangyurbanarboretum.org.

Once an application is received, McLaughlin said he or Pete Kovarik, a member of the arboretum's board of directors, will conduct an inspection to determine if the property meets the criteria for certification. If not, the board president said, the homeowners would be provided with information on what they need to do, including where and what type of additional trees might need to be planted and a list of species native to Franklin County from which to choose.

Also, invasive species, such as honeysuckle or burning bush, must be removed from a yard prior to certification.

All existing trees on sites within the arboretum's boundaries will be grandfathered in, McLaughlin said.

"There is some flexibility there for unique properties," he said.

Exceptions can be made where issues such as water lines and overheard utility lines make strict adherence to the guidelines impossible.

Once a home is certified, the owner will be provided with a plaque to display in his or her yard, featuring the logo of the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum "so everybody knows," McLaughlin added.

There will be a fee for participating in order to cover the cost of the plaques, which will be similar in size to signs for home-security companies.

The amount of the fee has yet to be determined, McLaughlin said.

"We're not looking to make money on this program, but being a nonprofit, we don't have the money sitting around to buy these things," he said.

Arboretum board members hope the certification program will lead to the planting of 300 trees over the next 12 months or so, McLaughlin said.

He also said the board of directors in August approved expansion of the arboretum's boundaries to include about 250 more homes on the southern edge of the Walhalla Ravine. The area is known as the Midgard-Woodbine neighborhood.

The expanded territory will enable arboretum officials and volunteers to add a third walk this spring, McLaughlin said.

"We reached out to them, because we thought it would make sense for expansion northward toward the Walhalla Ravine," he said. "It adds more character to the existing arboretum and also gives us the opportunity to create another walk."

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