Urban Tree Conference

Urban Tree Conference - Planting, nurturing, and preserving urban trees

Trees are a valuable asset to nature, but they are often overlooked in urban settings. Trees cool buildings with their shade and clean the air and water through filtration. However, urban trees must withstand pollution, poor soils, limited legroom for roots, and pressure from insects and disease, and their health and cultural requirements are not considered or monitored.

Bring nature back to your urban area with the help of the University of Illinois Urban Tree Conference. The six-day, 18 session virtual conference will cover all aspects of urban tree planning, implementation and management. 

January 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 2021

Register: go.illinois.edu/UrbanTreeRegistration

  • Cost: $10 per day, $50 for the entire program. Fee waivers are available. Email Reid Young for more info.
  • Time: 9 AM - 12:15 PM
  • CEUs Available: The Illinois Arborist Association has approved this workshop to fulfill mandatory Continuing Education Unit (CEU) requirements.

Conference Sessions

Thursday, January 7

8:45-9 AM Welcome

9-10 AM: Tree Planting Updates
Kelly Allsup, University of Illinois
Everything you may or may not know about tree planting combined with the latest tree planting research, Horticulture Educator Kelly Allsup, will teach you how to plant a tree for longevity.

10:05-11:05 AM: Tree Pruning 101: The Basics of Tree and Shrub Pruning
Ryan Pankau, University of Illinois
From a basic, easy cut with well-defined branch collar to challenging branch angles or tiny twigs, Horticulture Educator Ryan Pankau will cover everything you need to know for a successful pruning project.

11:10 AM -12:15 PM: How do trees withstand drought?
Cassandra Allsup, Ph.D.,University of Wisconsin
With changing climates in Illinois, mycorrhizal fungi, root fungi, is important to the state’s temperate forests. The main concern with Illinois’ forests is to prevent sugar maples from establishing and displacing oak-hickory forest types. With ever-increasing changes in precipitation, Cassandra Allsup will cover how mycorrhizae may be beneficial when establishing trees in current and future climates.

Friday, January 8

9-10 AM: Benefits of Urban Trees
Jessica Turner-Skoff, Ph.D., Morton Arboretum
The evidence is overwhelming that trees provide many physical, mental, and social health benefits and they improve the quality of life of people living in cities. Learn about the scientific benefit of trees.

10:05-11:05 AM: Exotic, Emerging, and Endemic Oak Diseases in the Midwest
Diane Plewa, University of Illinois
This presentation covers common and rare oak diseases of importance to the Midwest region, including those that rarely cause lasting damage to diseases that can kill mature trees in just a few seasons. A brief history, introduction to the pathogen, symptomology, and management will be discussed for each disease.

11:10 AM -12:15 PM: Urban Trees for Stormwater Management: A Prescription for Moving Forward
Asia Dowtin, Ph.D., Michigan State University
In recent years, cities across the Midwest and the U.S.have emphasized increasing urban canopy cover. The motivation behind these initiatives is clear: trees provide a vast array of highly valued ecosystem services, including stormwater mitigation. As the reliance upon trees to help manage stormwater increases, so does the need to employ a strategic selection of urban trees, to maximize runoff reduction. In this talk, Dr. Asia Dowtin will explore the structural characteristics of varying tree species that lead to optimal stormwater mitigation, and will provide a prescriptive guide for urban tree selection to help achieve water management goals.

Thursday, January 14

9-10 AM: Shrub Planting and Care
Chris Enroth, University of Illinois
For most landscapes, shrubs are the backbone of the design. Ever-present and at eye-level, this plant material has to perform well no matter the time of year. So often shrubs are planted with poor spacing and pruned into unsightly forms. Join Illinois Extension horticulture educator Chris Enroth as he talks about proper placement and care for Midwestern shrubs as well as his favorite shrubs.

10:05-11:05 AM: Invasive Tree Pests of the Midwest
Ken Johnson, University of Illinois
Invasive species cause billions of dollars of damage every year in the United States and can wreak havoc on landscapes and natural areas. This presentation will discuss some of the invasive insects in Illinois and the Midwest-Emerald Ash Borer, Japanese beetle, gypsy moth, spotted lanternfly, Asian long-horned beetle -as well as some to be on the lookout for.

11:10 AM -12:15 PM: Tough Native Trees
Jay Hayek, University of Illinois
This session will provide an overview of the environmental benefits of choosing and planting native tree species with an emphasis on some tough urban trees that can be planted in urban areas.

Friday, January 15

9-10 AM: Identifying Stresses of Trees
Kelly Allsup, University of Illinois
While you are doing your annual tree health assessments, Horticulture Educator Kelly Allsup will demonstrate some of the telltale signs that trees may be under stress while addressing the most common abiotic issues that face urban trees today.

10:05-11:05 AM: Healthy Soils for Resilient Urban Trees
Michelle Catania, Morton Arboretum
The perfect tree –one that is stately and strong–does not grow overnight. These ideal trees are remnants of the past, leftovers from simpler times. In the current era, builders prefer fast and efficient, using massive earthmovers to prepare the land. This creates inhospitable landscapes for trees, that are still demanded to live out the rest of their lives in this manipulated, biologically void landscape. The climate of the future is expected to be different than todays. This talk is designed to teach professionals how to assess soil conditions, promote tree-based practices to enhance the planting environment, and highlight online resources to keep you learning and digging in the soil to promote healthy, long-lived urban trees.

11:10AM - 12:15PM: Pruning for Performance and Prevention
Lindsey Purcell, Purdue University
How do I remedy poor branching habit? What do I do with these codominant stems? Corrective pruning has many implications including tree structure, health, response to damage and practice. Pruning to improve performance and preventing failure should be a major consideration for every arborist. This session will provide details on pruning objectives to help arborists determine the best strategies for promoting sustainable growth consistent with current standards by using case situations.

Thursday, January 21

9-10 AM: Invasive Tree Management
Chris Evans, University of Illinois
While invasive plants come in all shapes and sizes, invasive trees are often overlooked. This presentation will cover general principles for the management of invasive trees and specific control recommendations for the most common invasive trees in Illinois as well as new potential invaders to watch for.

10:05-11:05 AM: Don’t Put your Trees on the Highway to Hell: Best Practices for Growing Roadside Trees
Allyson Salisbury, Ph.D., Morton Arboretum
Roadside trees can provide many benefits to a community -creating a sense of place and beauty, reducing particulate air pollution, and cooling people, buildings, and vehicles. Yet the roadside can be one of the most difficult places to grow trees. In this presentation, we’ll discuss practices for growing roadside trees, starting from the planning process, then to species selection and site preparation, and ending with post-planting care and management.

11:10 AM-12:15 PM: Storm Damaged Trees
Jake Miesbauer, Morton Arboretum
Storm damage is a common issue faced by urban tree managers. But not all storms – nor all trees – are the same. Many factors can influence the severity of damage, which can range from a few small broken branches to whole tree failure resulting in catastrophic consequences. This presentation will cover different types of storm events and how trees fail differently in each. We will also discuss a range of conditions that predispose trees to failure. The goal of this presentation is for the audience to get a better understanding of why and how trees are damaged in storms and come away with some ideas on how to prevent it.

Friday, January 22

9-10 AM: Quelling Your Quercus Queries: Identifying Oaks in Urban Forests and Landscapes
Travis Cleveland, University of Illinois
Did you know there are 21 oak species native to Illinois? Would you be able to correctly identify them as well as the numerous hybrids and introduced oak species? In this session, we will cover some tips and strategies to help you accurately identify some of the most beautiful and valuable specimens of our urban forests and landscapes.

10:05-11:05 AM: Tree Compartmentalization: Natural Defense Mechanisms in Trees
Ryan Pankau, University of Illinois
Trees don’t heal, they seal and Extension Educator Ryan Pankau will discuss all the mechanisms at play as trees work to seal over wounds and compartmentalize rot.

Keynote Address

11:10 AM -12:15 PM: An Approach to Pruning you Won’t Forget
Edward F. Gilman, Ph.D., University of Florida
Once you begin pruning trees using the strategies learned in this session you will not regress to the old way. Dr. Edward Gilman will demonstrate practical strategies to increase long-term survival starting when trees are planted. You will be able to step outside immediately after this session and begin pruning in a more sustainable, sensible manner. Good branch architecture results in long-lasting trees.