Add a Free Native Tree

Sassafras albidum

Sassafras albidum

Trees have many benefits. They provide shade, beauty and tranquility, cool the air, soak up greenhouse gases, emit oxygen, and help to shelter and feed birds and other wildlife. Native trees are especially important because they can support a huge number of native insects and caterpillars, which is what songbirds feed their young. Caterpillars also turn into beautiful butterflies and moths.

So if you can do only one thing for nature, plant a native tree. Or, if you live in Arlington, have one planted on your property at no cost to you through the Tree Canopy Fund.

Attend a meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, at Shirlington Library, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, to learn more about the tree canopy fund and how you can apply for a robust tree to be planted on your property next spring. The application deadline is Dec. 15, 2017.

For a list of the 11 available species followed by photos and additional descriptions of each tree, click: TCF 2018 Spring Species

Tree Stewards will help you select the right tree for the right place right at your home.

Posted in ACE, Education, Events, Free Tree, Tree Canopy Fund | 1 Comment

The Silent Killer in Your Yard

What’s scarier than bumping into a spider web, a witch, a black cat or a bat in the dark of All Hallows Eve?

It’s a zombie plant that harbors rodents and mosquitoes on the ground but morphs into a killer of earth’s largest living ancient species when it climbs and matures. Still stumped?

It’s English ivy, which can choke – and kill — the beautiful trees that give our yards and neighborhoods shade and character. What looks like a lovely little green plant can clamp onto trees, accelerating rot, and causing mature trees to fall down during storms.

Ivy can strangle trees, and once it is in the tree canopy, it can block sunlight from the trees’ leaves. Dense ivy cover deprives the tree’s bark of normal contact with air and microorganisms and competes with the tree for nutrients and water. Ivy is a threat. But we can beat it with simple landscaping work.

3 Steps to Remove Ivy from Trees

1. Use garden clippers to cut ivy at the bottom around the entire trunk of all infested trees. The goal is to separate all ivy vines from their source of nutrients in the soil so they will die. If the ivy is not dense, you can pull it from the soil at the bottom of the tree with your hands, especially soon after it rains. On heavily infested trees with ivy vines thicker than an inch, you will need to carefully saw through the vine and carefully, gently ease it away from the bark. Experiment with the tools below to find what works best for you.

TIP: Wear gloves and long sleeves to lessen the risk of poison ivy. Many prefer doing this during the winter months when poison ivy is less virulent, and they will have heavier clothing to reduce the risk.

2. Pull all ivy vines out of the ground around the base of the tree, making a “life saver ring” 2 feet wide all around the tree. This will protect the tree from future infestations. This is easiest to do when the soil is soft from rains; if the ground is very hard and the vines keep breaking, wait until after a rain to remove the vines. The cleared space allows you to see any emerging ivy from roots you missed. Arborists suggest laying a 2″ thick leaf or wood chip mulch for three feet around the tree to preserve moisture in the soil and keep lawn mowers from getting too close to the roots. Keep the mulch 3″ away from tree trunk to ensure air exchange for the bark, and you can spot any ivy trying to reinfest the tree.

3. Once cut, leave ivy on the tree. Do not pull it off because that could harm the tree. Ivy will gradually blend into the tree bark after it is cut. Check up your tree each winter to be sure the ivy remains off.

Please note that ivy’s leaves grow larger and more heart-shaped as the vine climbs up the tree. This mature phase of the plant produces flowers in late summer and purple berry-like fruit in autumn that birds eat and spread far from the initial source. If you’re uncertain about the identity of the vine on your tree, track a stem of it back to ground level until you are certain it’s English ivy. Then follow the steps above to kill its vines on the tree trunk.

Please contact the TreeStewards at to get a demonstration of how to remove ivy from a tree in your yard or to request a speaker.

Additional Education Material

Download 2-sided mini poster about ivy removal.

This was developed for TreeStewards and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists under a grant from the Tree Canopy Fund of Arlington, Virginia. These materials, created by the Biodiversity Project of Chicago, may be adapted and distributed by anyone who wants to protect their trees.
We’d like to know how the campaign is succeeding. Please notify us when you clear ivy from trees or if you are using the materials in your work by emailing

Posted in Uncategorized

Have a Free Tree Planted in Your Yard

Arlington County Tree Canopy Fund Information Session
Monday, November 6, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Shirlington Library, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA 22206
Are you interested in getting a tree for your yard or property? Please join us for an information session about the Arlington County Tree Canopy Fund program through which property owners can apply to get a native tree that provides canopy planted on their properties. This session is being organized by Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) in partnership with the TreeStewards and will include an overview of the program and application process and details about the tree species available and where best to plant them. The Tree Canopy Fund is administered by ACE and the County’s Urban Forestry Commission. For more information and to register visit
Elenor Hodges
Executive Director
Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment
 Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment is featured in the DC Catalogue for Philanthropy
“One of the best small charities in the Greater Washington, DC region”
3308 S. Stafford St. Arlington, Virginia 22206 ● 703-228-6427 ●
Combined Federal Campaign #83504


Posted in ACE, Free Tree, Tree Canopy Fund | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Can This Tree Be Saved?

How about it, Tree Stewards and arborists?

What’s your prognosis for an Eastern redbud Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ with a see-through split trunk? Click each image for a better view:

This perky redbud caught our fancy as we conducted the census of specimens planted by Arlington County’s Tree Canopy Fund in the Langston-Brown/Halls Hill neighborhoods. It was decked with plastic Mardi Gras beads, and its owner said that in New Orleans, such bejeweled trees are called “Tree of Life.”

Our tree, however, has several problems. Obvious is its mulch volcano. And although the strands of beads are lightweight, they could burden the branches.

CLUE: Our tree had crossing branches. The one on top sprouted from the back of the larger branch it is weighing down. The trunk split near where these branches originated.

When we examined the trunk, we found that it had been badly split long enough ago for the heartwood to have dried. Tell us what you think!

Continue reading

Posted in Education, Tree Care | 5 Comments

Four Mile Run Valley Project Needs Tree Stewards’ Help


Arlington is in the process of designing the Jennie Dean Park at Shirlington/Four Mile Run — and our participation at one of these events is very important. There are groups interested in more ball fields, dog parks, playgrounds, concert spaces, etc. If Tree Stewards show up at just one of these events and share our expertise on why trees are important, why their roots need space, and vote for the importance of natural areas with trees, we can make a difference. More info here and below.

TS Nora Palmatier is on this committee. She says her fellow committee members love trees and want more — but many of them lack the knowledge of what trees need to thrive. The entire event is important, but if your time is limited (and we know it is!) just come down to the Open Planning Studio (runs 3 days) for a half hour to share your knowledge with the park consultants. It really will make a big difference.

Here’s a description of the event and details on the schedule:

Help us Develop a Vision for Four Mile Run Valley
Bring your ideas for the future of the Four Mile Run Valley to a multi-day community visioning workshop on Dec. 2 – 6. Through hands-on design exercises and engaging conversations, learn and share about land uses and urban design; parks, playgrounds, recreational programming and open spaces; the dog park; street design and transportation; stream restoration and environmental improvements; historic and cultural resources; and more! Learn more at, search 4MRV visioning workshop.

· Kick-Off Event, Fri., Dec. 2, 7 – 9 p.m. @WETA, 3939 Campbell Avenue, 6th floor

· Hands-on Design Workshop, Sat., Dec. 3, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. @Drew Model School, 3500 23rd Street S

· Open Planning Studio, Sun., Dec. 4 – Tuesday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m. –6 p.m., 2700 Quincy Street, 3rd floor

· Closing Open House, Tues., Dec. 6, 7 – 9 p.m.,Drew Model School, 3500 23rd Street S

The overall goal of the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) initiative is to develop a comprehensive vision and policy framework and specific strategies for the area through the adoption of a Four Mile Run Area Plan, a Parks Master Plan, and a design for the Nauck Town Square. These plans will help guide public and private investment, including County operations for the long term, along with the preservation and enhancement of natural resource, open spaces, and future development, in a manner compatible with the surrounding area and consistent with the County’s overall policies. Learn more here.

Posted in Advocacy, Education, Events

Membership Meeting in the Crypt: This Sunday, Oct. 30


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