Branching Out

Upcoming events of interest to Tree Stewards and tree lovers

CANCELLED due to rain. Not rescheduled. Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Dyke Marsh haul road entrance

Plant trees and perennials with Friends of Dyke Marsh.  Wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves, pants, and sun protection.  Bring water and a shovel. Sign up at

Saturday, May 19, 7:45 – 11:15 a.m., Arlington Courthouse Farmer’s Market

Tree Steward volunteers staff an information table at the market. Other dates this summer are June 23, July 28, August 18 and September 15. Contact Carol Weldon at to volunteer.

Wednesday, May 23, 1 p.m., a computer

USDA webinar on urban forest resiliency.

Tuesday, May 29, 7 p.m., Cafe Sazon, 4704 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Tree Stewards Continuing Education Committee meets to plan new programs.

Sunday, June 10, 3 – 5 p.m., Falls Church Arts Gallery, 700-B West Broad St.,

Falls Church                                                  

MEMBERSHIP MEETING + CONTINUING EDUCATION: Tree Stewards and Falls Church tree folks gather for a film about the first city in Virginia to celebrate Arbor Day. Learn how the city works to maintain and increase its tree canopy. Then take a walk in a nearby area of arboreal restoration. Afterward, join Tree Stewards for supper (your expense) at one of The Little City’s fine restaurants.

Monday, June 11, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Urban Forestry Roundtable, 12099 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax

Revisiting Air Quality: The Tree Factor. A panel discussion follows updates on the effects of urban trees on air quality and how to plant healthy air. For more information or to register:





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Apply Now for a Free Tree

Treetop and trunk.Arlington property owners can add value to their real estate, lower their heating and cooling bills, and provide a new home for birds and butterflies by applying for a tree from Arlington County’s Tree Canopy Fund (TCF). The cost of the tree and its planting in fall 2018 is paid by the TCF.

The goal of the program is to plant more trees on private property within the county. Private property includes condominiums, apartment buildings, townhomes, single-family homes, non-profits (churches e.g.).  The chief requirement of those receiving trees is to properly care for them, especially watering the trees consistently for two years while they get established, then watering in following years whenever rainfall is inadequate.

We need your help growing the tree canopy!  Trees beautify and improve our environment. Trees are being lost as new homes sprout up around us. And a healthy, mature tree can add $8,000 to $9,000 to the value of your property while providing shade and other benefits.

Tree Steward volunteers are available to help you choose the right tree for your place. One will be assigned to you or your neighborhood if you email your name, contact information, address and civic association to:

If you wish to apply directly, do so at this link:

The trees available to choose from are listed here:
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Species information and illustrations are here:

TCF Species 2018


All trees will be planted November 2018 through January 2019.
More information, including the program guidelines for 2018-2019, is available at

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We’re Digging This Spring

Press Photos (4)

Volunteers from INTUS Windows add soil around a White oak tree they planted in Alexandria’s Ben Brenman Park on April 5 with guidance from Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria. From left are Jim McGorty, Karina Sicherle, Olena Prykhodko, and Connor McGorty. Photo by Sean O’Rourke for INTUS Windows.


Pre-schoolers from the Children’s International School in Rosslyn joined their parents and grandparents Sunday, April 29, in planting 32 trees in a previously weedy area along the southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway ramp to Key Bridge. Volunteers from Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria, who already had planted 80 trees and shrubs in Alexandria in April, guided them, along with arborists from the National Park Service and Arlington County.

The planting, designed to enhance the atmosphere for commuters crossing Key Bridge between Rossyln and Georgetown, is the pre-school’s community service project and was joined by three other Children’s International Schools in Arlington to help the environment. Continue reading

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Barking Up the Trees

Bark tells a lot about a tree. It is key to identifying deciduous trees in winter, when most have lost their leaves and buds may be out of reach or sight. Naturalist Michael Wojtech advocates learning bark as a means of learning trees with the goal of becoming a native with the surrounding woods.

Mockernut hickory bark

Michael Wojtech notes the diamond pattern in bark of a mature Mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa).

He wrote the book on bark, and last Saturday (March 10), he illustrated the dozens of variations in bark in both slides and a walk with about three dozen tree lovers at the National Arboretum in the District. Casey Trees, the D.C. tree-planting non-profit, invited volunteers and others from the area to experience Wojtech’s straighforward method.

Examine the bark at eye-level. Try not to look up for other clues, such as branching habit or remaining seeds or leaves. Consider where the tree is growing: wet, dry, uphill or lower. Think about the tree’s age: young, mature, old. And then match the patterns you see with about a dozen patterns typical of trees in our area and further northeast. Touch the bark. Is it smooth, tight, peeling, rough, furrowed, scaly, or pocked with lenticels?

Bark with furrows and ridges

Touching bark gives an added sense of its nature, in this case furrows and heavy ridges.

All are clues to the species of tree, though when a young or mature tree gets up in years, its bark can change radically. An exercise with photographs of 10 younger trees and photos of them later in life stumped all but three of the groups trying to match them up. As with most worthwhile endeavors, identifying trees by their bark takes lots of practice. So, go to your favorite trees. Get to know them. Give them a gentle pat. You’ll be rewarded with knowledge.

White ash branches and samaras

It’s hard not to look up, especially when the samaras of a White ash (Fraxinus americana) are hanging on.


Michael Wojtech’s book, which contains a handy key to identify bark and dozens of photos of bark at various ages, is Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast. His website is





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Forestry Webinars to Watch

It may be sunny outside, but the light shines brightly from your home computer if you tune in to hear or participate in urban forestry webinars that are offered free. Most, if not all, are archived about a week after their live date, so you can watch and listen at your leisure and clock those Continuing Education hours on Track It Forward.

Logo of Southern Regional Extension Forestry's Webinar Series: Understanding Urban and Community Forests
The first of a year-long series by Southern Regional Extension Forestry starts at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday, March 14). The topic is Nature and Health in Communities: A Review of Best Available Science. Later this year, our own Nora Palmatier will participate in discussing Tree Stewards: Case Study of Two Virginia Urban Tree Volunteer Programs. For more about the webinar series, which is designed for extension agents and personnel but valuable for Tree Stewards too, click here.

If you ever wondered if size matters when selecting a tree to plant, check out this most recently archived of Can simple production or propagation decisions impact landscape performance of container-grown trees? What are the returns on your investment in the size of planting stock? Will the “little dogs” catch the “big ones” in the end? In this webinar, Dr. Michael Arnold of Texas A&M University will consider the big impacts of small planting stock selection decisions. Some of the findings might surprise you.

Tree Stewards are not confused about the term “urban forestry,” but just to clear up any misunderstandings, let popular Tree Stewards lecturer Dr. Jim McGlone explain in a webinar produced for Virginia Master Naturalists and available to all at noon Thursday, March 22. Details.



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It’s Invasive Species Week

Posted in Community Service, Events, Pests, Tree Care