OPPD arboretum is an outdoor education area
- See trees and shrubs recommended for use in southeast Nebraska
- Understand safety issues associated with planting trees and shrubs around power lines other electrical equipment
- Learn how trees and shrubs can conserve energy
Arboretum Location and Features
The arboretum is located at 108th and Blondo streets in Omaha, adjacent to an OPPD substation. The arboretum is open to the public from dawn till dusk. It offers a variety of resources for visitors of all ages.
While emphasizing the tree/power line environment, the arboretum includes:
- Electrical Safety Education Area: Shows trimming methods used by OPPD's Forestry Department when pruning trees away from power lines. Also includes examples of tree/shrub species that can be planted adjacent to power lines.
- Substation Overlook: Signs on a knoll overlooking the substation point out the parts of the substation and explain and how each part functions.
- Transmission Line Demonstration: Walk through a transmission right-of-way to see the vegetation-management practices OPPD uses to eliminate unwanted vegetation and promote the growth of desirable plants that attract wildlife.
- Shelterbelt, Wildlife and Erosion-Control Plantings: This area contains tree and shrub plantings designed to attract wildlife. It also provides examples of conservation measures for erosion-control and windbreaks.
- Formal Planting Area: Emphasizes planting the right tree in the right place to avoid future tree/power line hazards. In this collection of trees and shrubs, you can see the types of trees that can be planted adjacent to power lines. Also includes groupings of native Nebraska trees, a conifer collection and lowland/wetland plantings.
- Outdoor Classroom: Located in a forested area surrounded by native tree species and connected to a hard-surface trail system.
Arboretum Virtual Tour
- Formal Gardens
- Conifer Collection
- Nebraska Native Collections
- Transmission Line Plantings
- Electrical Safety Area
- Energy Conservation Area
- Lowland Trees Collection
- Windbreak Planting
- Wildlife Habitat Plantings
- Native Grass and Wildflower Area
- Historical Tree Collection
Welcome to the OPPD Arboretum We hope you enjoy your visit to the OPPD Arboretum. To keep the area safe, the trails are open only to pedestrians. Bicycles, skates, skateboards, sleds and snowmobiles are not permitted. You are welcome to bring your dog, as long as you keep it on a leash and pick up any droppings.
Please use the trails when walking through the arboretum to prevent damage to grass. You may stroll off the trails to inspect trees and shrubs. Caution: Please keep away from the substation and surrounding fence, as high-voltage electricity can be dangerous.
OPPD's arboretum includes walking paths through woodlands areas. These areas show a variety of mature trees in a natural, forest environment. It's a perfect location for a nature walk with your family and for community groups.
Woodlands forests are made up of three principal layers. The forest floor layer is comprised of leaves and dead trees, which help foster new forest growth. The understory layer includes shrubs and bushes that thrive in shade. The canopy layer is the top layer that is made up of overlapping branches and leaves from mature trees.
Choosing the Right Tree or Shrub:
Selecting the right tree or shrub can be difficult. That's why the OPPD Arboretum was designed to let you view trees and shrubs that are suitable for planting in this geographical region.
Before making your selection, you should decide how you wish to utilize the tree or shrub in the landscape, and the characteristics you want it to possess. Deciduous trees and shrubs - those that drop their leaves in the winter - provide excellent shade in the summer. Many have spring flowers, fruit and beautiful fall colors. Conifers - also called evergreens - are a good choice for shielding your house from winter winds, and for providing sight and sound barriers.
Save Energy with Conifers
Conifers, also called evergreens, are often the strongest-looking plants in the yard. At about 30 years, the trees are usually shaped like columns or spires, after they outgrow their Christmas-tree looks. Their leaves are in the shape of needles, scales and awls. The fruits are woody or fleshy seed cones. These trees add year-round color to your yard.
Conifers protect your home from winds. Windbreaks lower heating costs, reduce soil erosion, provide snow control, enhance wildlife habitats, reduce noise, add privacy and improve the environment. Well-designed windbreaks of trees and shrubs can reduce energy use by 20 to 40 percent. Low-growing evergreen shrubs are a good choice to plant near the building foundation to guard against critical heat loss.
Nebraska Native Collection
"Nebraska natives" are plants that originated in the forests and prairies of this area. Native trees and shrubs have many positive attributes, but are sometimes overlooked because they are common. These plants have built up a tolerance for temperature and moisture extremes, and thrive in the soils of this region.
Nebraska natives often bear fruits and nuts that are attractive to native birds and wildlife. Notice the berries and seeds on the trees and shrubs.
The Nebraska Native Collection includes examples of upland trees and shrubs that are native to hillsides and savannas. You also will find a large collection of native trees in the Lowland Tree Collection, and in the Transmission Line Vegetation Management Area.
Transmission Line Right-of-Ways
High-voltage transmission lines bring electric power from power plants to substations. Support structures for transmission lines take various forms - towers, single poles or double poles. Even though the transmission lines are higher than lines that deliver power to homes and businesses, it is extremely important to keep them free of tree branches because of their high voltage.
These lines are designed and built for public safety, and are located on the utility's easement or right-of-way, which includes space under the line and to each side. The easements give OPPD the right to construct and maintain the line, and restrict the use of the property from anything that would pose a safety or reliability problem.
Proper Planting Near Electrical Equipment
When properly planted and maintained, trees and shrubs can beautify and shade our homes. However, when planted too close to t electrical equipment, trees and shrubs can present a safety hazard.
Avoid Injury and Utility Interruptions
Before you dig in the ground, even to plant trees or shrubs, you are required by law to contact Nebraska811 to have the underground utilities marked. Within two days of your call, the location of your utilities will be marked, using flags and paint – at no cost to you. You can call Nebraska811 toll-free or access its website to request the marking of your utilities.
In Nebraska, please call Diggers' Hotline at 1-800-331-5666.
Energy Conservation Area - Growing Savings on Trees
You can greatly reduce your heating and cooling expenses by planting trees and shrubs. Planting trees so that they create shade on your house and driveway will make your home and yard more comfortable in the summer. A yard without shade can be 20 degrees hotter than a yard with lots of shade. Shading your house can also cut your air-conditioning costs by 10 percent or more.
You can also save on your winter heating bills by planting conifers (evergreens) to block the north and west winds. Planting conifer shrubs along the foundation of a building will also reduce the heat loss. These plantings will make you more comfortable in the winter, and you can save money on your heating bills.
Lowland Tree Collection
Lowland trees are native to bottomlands and edges of rivers, streams and lakes. These plants are accustomed to wet soils and standing water caused by flooding. Before land was developed, lowland plant communities were common. Shrubs grew along the shores of rivers, and trees were abundant in streamside flood plains. The Lowland Tree Collection contains hardy plants that are common in this region.
Many lowland trees are tall and fast-growing. They provide excellent shade, and are popular in parks and yards. Because they grow very tall, they should be planted only a safe distance from power lines.
Trees that Block the Wind
If you want to lower your energy costs, you can plant trees to block the wind. People with large properties, such as farms and acreages, can plant windbreaks to protect their property from blustery weather. By planting several rows of conifers and deciduous trees, property owners can create a protected zone for their home or farmstead, and a habitat for wildlife.
Plants that Attract Wildlife
If you want to attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your yard, choose plants that meet their needs. Plants provide food and a place where animals can raise their young. Arranging the trees and shrubs in your landscape to provide shade and wind protection also creates a good habitat for wildlife.
Conifer trees and shrubs are excellent for year-round shelter and nesting. Deciduous trees and shrubs also provide nesting sites, and are good sources of food if they produce fruits, nuts or seeds. Flowers, herbs and grasses also provide food, shelter and nesting spots for some wildlife and insects. Native plants are most attractive to area wildlife, since the plants and wildlife have developed together.
Native Grasses and Wildflowers
This two-acre section of the arboretum features grasses and flowers nestled in with trees and shrubs, which provide additional nesting and feeding sites for local wildlife.
There is also a wood-chipped walking trail that meanders through the exhibit area. Funds for the development of this area were provided by a grant through the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.
Historical Tree Collection
Located along a winding path on the north section of the arboretum, this collection of trees (planted in 2007) originated from seeds and grafts from trees obtained from historical sites throughout the U.S.
Two examples include:
- The Mark Twain Cave bur oak that grew from an acorn handpicked from a large oak growing at the entrance to Simms Cave near Hannibal, Mo.
- The Elvis Presley sycamore that grew from seed handpicked from Elvis’ Graceland estate in Memphis, Tenn.