Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Chattanooga resident Bethany McIlrath pulls Chinese privet plants up during the annual Weed Wrangle event at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center on March 6, 2021.

Depending on which direction you head Saturday, you can help put plants into the ground or rip them out.

The Weed Wrangle at Tennessee state parks and other public-use lands will remove invasive species such as kudzu and Chinese privet, while Arbor Day events in East Lake and Soddy-Daisy will focus on planting trees.

If nothing else, the volunteer efforts will give dormant gardeners a chance to get their hands in the dirt. The last frost risk in the Chattanooga area is April 17, still a month and a half away, according to the Tennessee home fruit and vegetable garden calendar published online by the University of Tennessee Extension.

Volunteers in the Weed Wrangle will be clearing the way for native plants to thrive, said Jessica Whitehorn, programs director at Audubon Acres, one of several places around Chattanooga involved in the effort, which is overseen nationally by the Garden Club of America and has community participation across the U.S.

(READ MORE: Five invasive species we should be eating, plus recipes from locals)

"We're working on a spot behind Walker Hall," Whitehorn said in a phone interview. "There's a small, wet-weather creek that runs through there that we're trying to clear of privet."

Photo Gallery

Tree planters digging in, weed wranglers digging up in separate events around Chattanooga area Saturday


In a blog post for Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, Bryon Brooks, the invasive species specialist on staff, said last year's Weed Wrangle rallied Boy Scout troops, garden clubs, families and individuals to "whack, wallow and wrestle" Chinese privet out of the ground.

"There is no part of the [317-acre] property that isn't impacted to some degree by the presence of exotic invasive species," Brooks wrote. "These non-native plants take up light, space and nutrients that native species need to thrive to support native pollinators."

This year's volunteers also will be targeting bush honeysuckle and bamboo growing at Reflection Riding.

Kim Schofinski, deputy communications director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said 32 state parks are participating in the Weed Wrangle, including Harrison Bay in Chattanooga. Volunteer workers will have the benefit of gaining skills and advice from the experts on hand "to address their own green spaces to combat invasive species," she said in a news release.

(READ MORE: Reflection Riding is leading the fight against invasive species, hoping you will join)

Meanwhile, Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy will mark Arbor Day by planting trees Saturday morning.

At a glance

Arbor Day

— East Lake: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday at East Lake Park, 3400 13th Ave. Bare-root trees will be planted along 34th and 36th streets from 13th Avenue to Dodds Avenue. Dedication ceremony, with light refreshments, at 11 a.m.

— Soddy-Daisy: Hardwood and flowering trees will be planted 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Pine Tree Park (just north of Fire Station No. 2, 11651 Dayton Pike).

Weed Wrangle

— Tennessee state parks: Among the 32 taking part are Harrison Bay, Red Clay, Fall Creek Falls, Old Stone Fort, Cumberland Mountain and Hiwassee/Ocoee River. Details: (search for Weed Wrangle 2022)


— Other Chattanooga volunteer efforts are being coordinated by Audubon Acres, Reflection Riding, Lookout Mountain Conservancy, city of Red Bank, TVA at Lake Junior, McCoy Farm & Gardens and Chattanooga Park Stewards at Renaissance Park. Registration information for any of these locations:

City forester Pete Stewart said this will be the 33rd consecutive Arbor Day celebration in Chattanooga.

"We'll be planting 33 trees this year — on streets between the East Lake Rec Center and East Lake Park — to help create better pedestrian connections between the two," he said in an email.

The Soddy-Daisy celebration, a first-time event organized by the nonprofit corporation Keep Soddy-Daisy Beautiful, will take place at Pine Tree Park, a bird sanctuary bordering Soddy Lake. A mix of hardwood and flowering trees will be planted, and a free pizza lunch will be provided to all volunteers.

"We will learn from this first Arbor Day event, and plans are already underway for a larger celebration and more tree planting in the coming years," event coordinator Jim Stewart said in a news release.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.