Mercy Joplin Tree-Planting Project Earns Statewide Award

March 5, 2015

Photo gallery includes more photos from the Nov. 2014

ceremony and as the trees were cared for over the years.

In above image: Lisa Allen, Missouri Dept. of Conservation; 

Chris Moon, SWT; Nancy Hughson, Carrie Coyne, SWT; and

Casey Jo Kellner, Missouri Community Forestry Council.

Long before construction began on the new Mercy Hospital Joplin, a plan was put in place to preserve native trees that miraculously survived the May 2011 tornado. The tree-salvaging project, which came to a head in the months leading up to the new hospital’s opening, has earned Mercy the 2014 Missouri Arbor Arbor Award of Excellence — in the Business/Institutions category — by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Mercy, SWT Design, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., Frank Sharum Landscape Design, Kin-Kam Tree Farm & Nursery, and Wickman’s Garden Village, worked together to develop the successful relocation strategy, which included:
  • Saplings targeted for the move. Small trees have a higher transplant success rate than large trees.
  • Native tree species selected for transplant (i.e. sycamore, oak, and hickory). Native trees are adapted to the naturally occurring soil and environmental conditions of the region and site. They are less susceptible to disease and insects that often plague non-native plants.
  • Harvest of saplings in winter. Most trees are dormant between late fall and early spring. Transplanting them during this time period ensures trees are not in an active growing period and therefore causes less stress on the trees during the move.
  • A tree holding facility readied for the sapling transplants. Long before transplant day, Kin- Kam Tree Farm & Nursery prepared a space in their nursery large enough to hold around 400 sapling trees. They ensured the fields had deep, fertile soils, which were well drained, and cleared of weeds or other growth that may compete with the saplings for root growth.
  • Relocation over a very short period of time. Saplings were hand dug, with a majority of their root system intact. They were not exposed to the elements for long, being gathered in large tubs and transported to the nearby grower’s field within a day of digging.
  • Proper planting methods. Once transported to the nursery, saplings were placed by hand, in holes deep enough to accommodate the trees without twisting and breaking the root system.
  • Saplings watered during dry and drought periods. It was extremely important to ensure newly planted trees had adequate soil moisture and that moisture levels were maintained through their holding period. Wickman’s Garden Village weeded, pruned and fenced them in to protect the saplings from injury by deer and other pests.
  • Tree health updates provided. During the maintenance-holding period, the nursery provided regular reports on tree health and survival rates to Mercy and the design team.

Re-Planting the Trees

After two years in the holding field, the sapling trees were dug and re-planted onto 5.25 acres. To celebrate the return to the new hospital site, a tree planting ceremony was held last fall. Approximately 100 Mercy employees and their families participated and the community was invited to witness the symbolic event.
Each employee was given a numbered sapling tree to re-plant while a local arborist provided information about the tree species being re-planted, proper planting procedures and tree care instructions. As the ceremony came to a close, all of the trees had been replanted onto the new site, ready to set roots and grow to their full potential.
During the ceremony, a representative of Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center discussed how several of the species of trees that were being planted have historically been used for medicinal purposes. This is a unique and special fact to know, tying the healing powers of Mercy Hospital and nature together.
Bigger Picture
The Mercy design team understood from the beginning the importance of site sensitivity. More than 30 tree species, 15 shrub species, and 20 grasses and perennials are being used across the 100-acre project site that are native to the site and surrounding area. Of the 1,663 trees planted on the site, 77% are native. Those that are not native were selected for their tolerance and adaptability to the Joplin site to ensure the greatest success.
The plants selected were chosen not only for their beauty, but also for their ability to draw nature to the site, while providing a healthy and calm environment for patients, employees, and guests to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin. To help promote healthy and calm environments, several courtyard spaces were designed for patients, staff and guests to relax and regroup.
Storm water management systems were designed to be larger than current calculations determined to provide extra protection against downstream damage to the Wildcat Glade and other Audubon sites. These detention basins will act much the same way a rain garden would, holding and filtering storm water of impurities before discharging in the larger storm water system. The detention basins include native grasses and forbs that are adaptable to the volatile environmental conditions.
Mercy Heals
Sitting to the south of I-44, passersby can see the new hospital nestled in the gorgeous valley surrounded by Mother Nature on every side. Mercy Hospital Joplin will open its doors on March 22, 2015. A public open house will be held on Saturday, March 7. Click here for more information.
The newly planted trees and purposeful landscaping will be given regular care and strategic maintenance, allowing patients breathtaking views from their rooms as they receive care.
Mercy is the fifth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. which servers millions annually. Mercy includes 35 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, three rehab hospitals and two orthopedic hospitals, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.