On a brisk sunny morning alongside a busy stretch of concrete, crews from The Energy Corridor District (ECD) carefully planted more than 1,000 saplings in an annual spring ritual that enhances a green corridor the management district’s been sowing for years.
Each sapling, painstakingly tied with pink ribbon to ward off tramplers, was plunked into mulch alongside the Katy Freeway between Kirkwood and Highway 6 – part of The District’s ongoing work to create and maintain the green corridor as a welcoming reminder of the natural world in a bustling urban realm.
A dozen species of trees were selected to create the diverse natural environment found in a forest, says Robert Rayburn, ECD’s landscape architect. Redbuds destined to bloom with startlingly beautiful magenta flowers; oaks from Bur, Chestnut and Chinquapin, to Nutall, Water and White; papery-trunked River Birch; fruit-bearing Sweetgums; graceful Cypress; and even edible fruit-bearing Pawpaw have created a mini-forest in The Energy Corridor, softening the harsh urban environment along one of the nation’s busiest stretch of highways.
“Our philosophy is to create diversity by planting both canopy and understory trees,” explains Rayburn. “Outside The District, you’ll see more of a monoculture of pine trees along highways. By establishing a variety of trees, this green corridor grows more like a forest with interesting foliage that changes throughout the seasons.”
That green corridor, says Rayburn, also helps absorb the noise of the interstate while reducing heat.
The District began beautifying and then maintaining the IH-10 corridor soon after it was established by the Texas State Legislature in 2001. Keeping the green corridor thriving means The District also lays down truckloads of mulch each year to maintain a healthy, tree-nurturing soil.
“Within the public right-of-ways, we plant more than 1,000 trees each year, which are nourished by tons of microbe-rich mulch that we replenish regularly,” Rayburn says. “Generations from now, we hope this green corridor provides as much of a natural respite for our children as it does for me when traveling down this busy interstate lined with cars and glass-covered office towers.”