The Green Lawn Cemetery was founded in 1848, with a majority of its trees being alive prior to Ohio becoming a state, and with the canopy-restoration project in its third year, the cemetery is hoping give their trees an additional 200 years of life.
The all-volunteer restoration project started three years ago as an effort to both help increase the number of trees on the property and to help replace trees that have succumb to old age, invasive insects, lightning, and more. The project initially mapped the cemetery of its trees, with a total at the time of 4,343 in the cemetery. By the end of this year, the cemetery should have a number closer to 4,600 trees. The project is only at its midway point and being spearheaded by Randy Rogers, lovingly nicknamed by the staff as the “Lorax of Green Lawn,” because he’s on the property at least five days a week.
Rogers first visited the cemetery as a bird watcher and has the aviary community in mind when he is planting trees on the property. He has approximately 30 core tree species that he uses to plant across the property, varying between heights, flowering season, and visual aesthetic. As Rogers puts it, “My process is 70 percent science and 30 percent art,” (Volunteer, Renault). He even considers who is buried nearby when selecting trees.
Rogers planted a hazel tree–a tree that can be used medicinally–near the grave of Lincoln Goodale, the first doctor of Columbus, OH. He will soon be planting seeds from trees that are near Frederick Douglass’ gravesite at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York, and planting them near local civil rights leader Rev. James Poindexter’s headstone.
The cemetery currently has 11 trees per acre of land and with an annual project budget of $15,000 and tree-planting goal of 150 to 200 trees per year, the Green Lawn Cemetery should have no problem with having trees for another 200 years.