Save Our Counted Trees from Invasives: February 21, 2015


Forested intersection

County owned parcel of forested land at eastern corner of Walter Reed Dr. and the W&OD Trail

On Saturday morning, February 21, 2015 we will remove invasive plants choking the trees — and practice our winter tree ID skills.  Please don your winter work clothes, bring gloves and clippers and meet us between 9AM and Noon at the intersection of Walter Reed  and Four Mile Run Drive.  Our work saved this forest from development last year, now let’s give the trees more freedom from choking vines.

Below is the original post  from January 2014 describing our efforts counting the trees and educating others of their value:

This forested parcel of land owned by Arlington County is being considered for relocation of the Phoenix Bikes Program and so it was inventoried by members of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and TreeStewards to determine the benefits from the trees and impact of tree loss if a building replaced the trees. The wooded parcel of land (about an acre) is located along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD Trail) at the intersection of South Four Mile Run Drive and Walter Reed Drive (eastern side of intersection).

A tree inventory is an important scientific, technical, and educational tool. Fieldwork for this tree inventory was initiated December 27, 2013, and completed December 31, 2013. This tree inventory identified the species and diameter of each tree 2 inches or greater in diameter. Tree diameter is usually measured at 4.5 feet (137 cm) above ground level. Measurement at this height is referred to as diameter at breast height or DBH. The volunteer team measured over 200 trees with a DBH of 2 inches or greater. The results show that this parcel of land contains:

• Over 170 trees that are native tree species.
• High species diversity with almost 30 different tree species including: American elm, ash (white and green), black gum, black locust, eastern red cedar, northern red oak, pin oak, red maple, scarlet oak, southern red oak, sweet gum, sycamore, and black cherry.
• More than 120 trees with DBH’s greater than 6 inches.
• Five trees of impressive size and shape: three native oaks, one native ash, and one native sweetgum between 30 and 40 inches DBH. Continue reading

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Winter Tree Care

Tree limbs are built to handle most snow storms; removing heavy wet snow must be gently done to avoid damage

The winter months are a great time to catch-up on tree maintenance and prepare for the spring growing season.  During the summer months, it is important to water trees but generally not perform maintenance (i.e. pruning or pest treatments); while during the fall season we try to keep-up with raking the leaves. With the onset of winter, trees enter their dormant season. Leaves have fallen, photosynthesis has stopped, and roots stop sending nutrients up the tree.  Continue reading

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Volunteer Training Class starts February 3, 2015

Poster with children viewing

TreeStewards enjoy providing education at community events.

Help us make a Difference and Join! Next Volunteer Training Class will be held on Tuesday evenings, February 3 -April 14, 2015 at Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington. Class will also include two Saturday and one Sunday morning sessions. For details click on the “Join Us” tab at the top.

To apply, fill out the application (link on Applications to the right) and email to or mail as instructed on form. We’re looking forward to volunteering with you next year!

team planting tree

TreeStewards provide expertise and brawn to planting events.

Posted in Community Service, Education, Events

Give a Tree Book for the Holidays

books on shelf arranged to be a treeThe Christmas/Hanukah season has a strong connection to trees. Buying a stately Fraser fir or setting up the synthetic Christmas tree is standard operating procedure for many families at this time of year. Although it is less likely now, dreidels used to be made out of wood, as were many toys of the past. And how about “Over the river and through the WOODS to Grandmothers house we go?” Trees galore! So, how about a book on trees for the holidays, especially for someone who is beginning their journey into the natural world or on the other end of the spectrum for someone who has a deep interest and can’t get enough information? Here are a few Tree Stewards favorites to consider for the newbie tree aficionado or the seasoned veteran on your list.

Sibley bookThe all time go to book for tree lovers is “The Sibley Guide to Trees” by David Allen Sibley.  Sibley is best known for his books on birds and to help bird watchers he decided to write and illustrate a book on trees.  The book has become a classic.  Full of illustrations of trees, leaves. and fruit, it can help you identify many species both in the winter and the summer.

Nora Palmatier, TreeSteward’s president likes “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propogation and Uses” by Michael Dirr.  This is Nora’s go to book because it has information about every common tree and most of their cultivars.  Details that are hard to remember are what it specializes in: rate of growth, diseases and Insects, size, hardiness etc.  This is one tomb of a book (1330 pages), definitely for the serious tree student. If you are thinking of this, be sure and get the hard back copy if you go that route. The paperback copy is not as hardy (no pun intended) and if used too much will fall apart. It is now available on iPads but not on Kindles.

PeppermintWhat about for kids? There are many books introducing children to our natural world and listing all the books would be a book in itself. For something different Rod Simmons, Alexandria’s Natural Resource Specialist, suggests a lovely brand new children’s book, “Isabella’s Peppermint Flowers”. Young readers can learn about Virginia’s colonial history as well as key aspects of botany. The book is available from All profits will be donated by the author, Susan Leopold, to the Flora of Virginia Project

Locally we are very fortunate to have another newly published book “Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington D.C.” by Howard Youth. This is a beautiful book that not only shares information on local trees but wildlife (from the lowly earthworm to raccoons and deer), plants (even mushrooms) and birds. The book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous prints that are frame worthy.

Native treesAnother one of our Tree Stewards, Bonnie Petrie, claims her favorite tree book is “Native Trees for North American Landscapes” by Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson.  According to Bonnie the pictures in this book are “simply gorgeous”.  For someone who is simply seeking to satisfy curiosity that arises during a hike, this book is a winner.

And lastly if you’re looking for inspiration, try Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.” Beth Bosecker (a 2014 Tree Stewards graduate) has a favorite quote from the book: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This book inspired her when she was young to keep up her interest in nature and trees and it helped in her decision as a young person to move forward in her career as an environmental scientist, a master naturalist, and a tree steward.

The Lorax is an inspiration for all tree lovers

The Lorax is an inspiration for all tree lovers

Hope this scratches an itch and just so you know, I found all these books on either Amazon or ABE books.  Many, if not most, are available digitally as well.

Happy Reading,

TreeSteward Eileen Grant

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Christmas Tree Choices: Living, Cut, or Artificial

After 50 years of reuse and recycling, this artificial tree is green!

‘Tis the season in which many believe the holidays would not be complete without a decorated tree. For those who care about their own environmental impact, the good news is you can follow your traditional celebration with a clear conscious! Just remember the environmental golden rule to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle whatever your choice. Below are points to consider:

Artificial Trees create a larger carbon imprint at the beginning, yet with yearly reuse and not purchasing new models, this can be spread out over a long time.  The tree to the left is basically a wooden pole with green wire bristles from 1960 – so old it is now chic, and holds 50 years of family history. Continue reading

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Continuing Care and ID at Four Mile Run Park

volunteers at hawthorn

Deer guards were wrapped around the trunk of this Hawthorne

Just like human babies, newly planted trees need ongoing care and protection. In April 2013, TreeStewards and Casey Trees planted twenty-five young trees in Four Mile Run Park off Mt. Vernon Avenue.  And over the last two summers, TreeSteward Kurt Moser has filled the water bags as needed and watched over them.  The Hackberry, Redbuds, Hawthorn, Yellowoods, Kentucky Coffeetree, Swamp white oaks, London Plane tree, and American Elm are all doing well and show new growth. Unfortunately the hophornbeam planted closest to the path fatally attracted deer last winter that used the trunks as rubbing posts. Something had to be done to protect the remaining trees!

DSC03518At the fall workday of November 2, TreeStewards removed the summer’s watering bags for winter storage, examined each tree to ensure no trunk damage and wrapped each trunk loosely with a stiff plastic deer guard. Now deer will come in contact with the plastic and not the sensitive bark, we are hoping. The tree guards cost about five dollars each, less than 1% of the value of the trees worth in benefits from clean air and stormwater management so we know it is worth the attempt.

wire cutting into tree trunk

An example of bad staking that used wire: this tree’s trunk will never recover. (TS did not plant this one!)

Note in the photo that these trees were staked although best practice is to allow young trunks to strengthen as they sway with the wind. Also note the ties between trunk and stake is loose to allow this movement. In this particular location, strong winds can blow young trees over before they have established structural roots so staking is necessary the first year. And stakes continue to provide protection from the human element: mowers, weed wackers, dogs, stray soccer balls. What is vitally important is that wires and ties are removed from trunks before they can damage it! These trees are regularly checked and the ties removed as needed.

The trees are beside Alexandria’s Sunday morning Farmers & Artisans Market, and border a popular walking path so it is the ideal place for outdoor education. Eleven tree identification signs were loosely hung on a sample of each species while the remaining fourteen have none. Test your winter tree ID skills by visiting the site and examining the Acer rubra sign – then find the other Red Maple. Then revisit next summer to test your leaf identification skills. Hint: not every species has two specimens and some have more.

ID sign of hawthorne

ID signage was attached loosely around the branch. Park maintenance preferred this method to signage in the ground.

TreeStewards will be holding tree identification walks in the area through the seasons.

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