Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Have you walked by a tree getting the short end of stick? Be a friend to that tree and report it.

Trees in urban environments have it rough. Not only do they have to deal with getting hit by car doors, being backed up into and foot traffic, they need to withstand construction going on all around them.

The Tree Act, passed in 2002, serves as a valuable accounting exercise for removal and replacement of trees. While it does nothing to address how trees are cared for if not being removed there is a DC ordinance that makes it a crime to willfully top, cut down, remove, girdle, break, wound, destroy, or in any manner injure any public tree (DC ST sec 22-3310).

Before working in the public right-of-way, one needs a DDOT Public Space Permit. The terms and conditions of that permit require that: the applicant will not cut or injure trees, or pile earth or other material within 8 feet of trees, unless such trees are properly protected in a manner approved by the Director of the Department of Transportation or his representative.

Contact 311 and/or DDOT to report:

  • A possible violation DC law
  • A possible violation of the terms and conditions of a DDOT Public Space Permit, or the absence of such a permit
  • A possible violation of the terms and conditions of a contractor’s contract with DC government, if the work is being done under one, due to the stocking of material and inadequate/compromised tree protection device.
Be sure to take note of where you see the possible infraction (street address or cross streets) and if possible take a picture. Put that camera phone to good use.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Casey Trees and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) have done it again.

Beginning this spring,
Casey Trees through the DDOE's RiverSmart Homes program, will plant shade trees on the property of DC homeowners for $50.00 per tree. There is no limit to the number of trees that can be planted. Front yard, side yard, back yard. No problem. Here is how the program works.
  • Complete and submit the short online contact form. Wait patiently.
  • In late winter/early spring 2010, a Casey Trees representative will contact you to schedule a tree siting to discuss which tree species and locations in the yard help meet your goals. Homeowners will be able to select from a list of 10-12 shade trees with the help of the Casey Trees representative. Right Tree, Right Space, Right at Home principals will guide the tree selection.
  • Once the species and locations are agreed upon, Casey Trees will then schedule the planting for between March and May.
Only homeowners in the District can take advantage of the RiverSmart Homes program. If you want to plant trees at an apartment building, coop, church, school, etc. located in DC and can identify locations for ten or more trees to be planted you can apply for a Community Tree Planting (CTP). Casey Trees provides the trees, tools and technical assistance for free.

Now what if you want to plant a tree that is not included on the RiverSmart Homes tree list? Another no problem. You can still take advantage of Casey Trees Tree Rebate. Purchase and plant a tree at your home and you can receive up to $50 back per tree (limit 3 trees per property). The only trees that are ineligible are Ash trees and invasives.

Another great tree planting program is the Treescape Design Workshop where Casey Trees Staff will help you design a custom treescape plan for your yard and then deliver a shade tree to your home – all for free. The next workshops will take place on Tuesday, March 11 and Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Register today.

For more information or to sign up for the RiverSmart Homes program, visit the DDOE website.


In April 2009, Casey Trees launched the Casey Trees Map, an interactive online tool to help users determine the existing Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) and planting opportunities for any address in the District and identify every tree Casey Trees has planted since 2003.

Just today in a soft launch we rolled out an enhanced version of Casey Trees Map featuring our new Trees of Note program and Add-A-Tree feature.

Trees of Note is a program that connects people to trees in the District deemed special because of their size, history and/or personal significance. Anyone can nominate or locate trees in three distinguished categories – Big Trees, Witness Trees and My Tree.

  • Big Trees are those valued for their sheer size and eligible for nomination to the National Register of Big Trees. The Register lists 826 species of trees. So far DC only has one Champion Tree, located on the U.S. Capitol grounds. Can you find another?
  • Witness Trees are trees present during a historical event or period. Frederick Douglass mentioned the White oak on his front lawn in his journal entries. Think of what that tree saw.
  • My Trees are those with personal meaning. This can be a tree you think has the prettiest blossoms in your neighborhood or even one you got married under. If it is special to you, we want to know about it.
Trees in DC are nominated to the Trees of Note program using the new Casey Trees Map point and click Add-a-Tree feature. The Add-A-Tree feature also allows you to add trees to the Casey Trees Map that you have recently planted in the District. Trees that you add to the map will count towards the City’s Urban Tree Canopy Goal of 40 percent by 2035.

In spring 2010, we will add a new tool that will allow you to update or delete a tree’s information in the event the tree has been removed or misidentified.

Nominating or adding a tree is easy to do own your own but I’ll walk you through the basic steps.

  • To start, go to The Casey Trees Map is found under Geographic Resources -> Interactive Maps.
  • Simply hit the ENTER button on the opening screen. The second screen provides you with basic prompts including a PAGE HELP button. When you are ready, hit the CLOSE button.
  • To nominate or add a new tree zoom in on the map using your mouse or the zoom tool in the left corner until the button at the top right of the map labeled ADD TREE fills in.
  • Go ahead and click it. Next choose what type of tree you want to add. The button on the left is for trees you have planted, the one on the right is for the Trees of Note program.
  • Scroll on the map to the approximate location you believe the tree is locate and click your mouse. A short form asking you a few questions about the tree will pop up immediately.
  • Fill out the form to the best of your knowledge. If you do not know the genus or species, you may select OTHER from the drop down bar. You may also add a photo. The more information you provide the easier the tree will be to find and confirm.
  • You're done!
What happens after you take the time to add a tree to the Casey Trees Map? A Casey Trees Citizen Verifier will visit the tree and confirm the information submitted. If the nominated tree is on private property the Citizen Verifier will arrange a time that is convenient for you to come out.

The District is much more than bricks and mortar. We hope the Casey Trees Map and Trees of Note program better connects you to the City’s trees, encourages you to visit the neighborhoods these trees are in and gets you to help protect and care for existing trees so we may have more Trees of Note in the future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Casey Trees and Trees for Georgetown are partnering to plant 47 new residential street trees in Georgetown. Planting is currently underway and will conclude at the end of the December.

Planting locations include street tree boxes that are empty or those that have dead trees or stumps and stretches of sidewalk that can accommodate new tree boxes.
The District Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) is removing any dead trees and stumps, taking existing tree boxes down to sidewalk level and coordinating the cutting of two new tree boxes.

Casey Trees will amend the soil, plant the trees, hang tree care instruction tags and return to water them twice during the summer and to prune them following the second year. Trees that fail during their first year will be replaced the following planting season.

Trees for Georgetown, an all volunteer committee under the auspices of the Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG), dedicated to the planting, care and maintenance of residential street trees in the village of Georgetown raises funds through its spring fundraising event and personal solicitations to purchase and plant trees for its residential streets each year. Donations are accepted year round. Trees for Georgetown has donated a portion of these proceeds to Casey Trees to help offset tree purchase and labor costs associated with the beatification project.

In addition to sponsoring new trees for the village, Trees for Georgetown has underwritten custom-made wrought iron fences for each newly planted tree box to shield trees from vehicle doors, yard maintenance equipment and foot traffic.

In the spring, Trees for Georgetown Chair, Betsy Emes, will launch a neighborhood watering campaign emphasizing 25 to Stay Alive – 25 gallons of water (1.5” of rainfall) per tree per week in times of little or no rainfall. Neighbors are encouraged to use irrigation bags, provided free of charge by Casey Trees, to ensure their trees receive the proper amount of water.

“One of the most effective ways a resident can improve the social, ecological, and economic value of a neighborhood is to help ensure that new trees thrive,” said Emes. “In the first two years especially, these new trees need attention to get established. We ask that residents share that responsibility, and in the end we will all benefit from a beautiful tree canopy across Georgetown”.

Eight species of trees will be planted in Georgetown including Nuttel oak, Swamp white oak, Parrotia persica, Sweetgum, London plane, Chinese elm, Zelkova, and Shumard oak.

Photo - Casey Trees field crew in action in Georgetown

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Contributing Writer - Sue Erhardt, Director of Education

We have all heard that it is better to give than to receive. Casey Trees has had the great fortune to be on the receiving end of people’s time and hard work this year.

It has been Casey Trees privilege to have welcomed over 1700 Citizen Foresters and volunteers over this past year. These dedicated individuals have helped us plant and care for trees all over the District. I would like to thank them for donating over 5300 hours of their precious time to help us advance our Urban Tree Canopy Goal of 40 percent by 2035.

I would also like to highlight the 11 schools that invited Casey Trees to their campuses to plant trees with their students. Schools have different reasons for plantings trees. Sometimes they plant trees for beautification, sometimes they want to incorporate the trees in a science or environmental project, and sometimes reasons can be a combination of both.

The Latin American Montessori Bi-cultural School (LAMB) wanted to plant trees with different leaf shapes to help their students learn about shapes and sizes. For most of the 500 LAMB students this was their first experience planting a tree. It is a great experience to help children feel a sense of accomplishment, and to show them what working together can accomplish. It is truly a powerful experience.

Just below are just two of the many thank you notes we received from LAMB School students following our tree planting with them.

If you like to join the group of selfless people who have chosen to be the change in the District go to and sign up for a class or a monthly Tree Walk.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Every so often you may notice spray paint marks on street trees and sidewalks. What do they mean?

The Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) whose mission is to establish a full population of street trees within the District and to assure those that those streets trees are maintained in a healthy and safe condition marks trees with spray paint to indicate to its crews what tree maintenance is scheduled for those locations.

Owners of underground facilities i.e. Washington Gas and Pepco use spray paint to mark facilities they own or manage before a homeowner or excavator digs or alters the ground. Miss Utility
, a one-call notification center, notifies subscribing underground facility owners of proposed excavation plans. (Before you dig, call Miss Utility. It's free and the law.)

Here is your cheat sheet for knowing what markings commonly used Feel free to use this info as an ice breaker at an upcoming holiday party.

  • Trunk marks in orange indicate a tree marked for removal.

  • Trunk marks in yellow indicate a female Ginkgo tree scheduled to be injected or sprayed to limit fruit production.
  • Curb paint marks the location for new street tree plantings. Spray painted dots are usually the size of an apple, color used to vary depending on the availability of the particular paint in the hands of the arborist. Older dots used to vary from green to yellow to white to red, but current marking is more uniformly done in fluorescent orange or pink.
  • Painted lines along the road, curb and grass, perpendicular to the road/sidewalk mark underground utilities. Yellow marks gas (Washington Gas), blue marks water lines and meters (DC WASA).

Have a concern why a certain tree or sidewalk is marked as it is? Contact the UFA at 311 or 202-673-6813 or Miss Utility at 800-257-7777 and ask them what type of work is scheduled, why and when.


The holiday season is upon us. I attempted to doing my shopping yesterday and was less than successful. Lines were long, shelves were a mess, I was overheated in my jacket, scarf, gloves and hat and nothing appealed to me. No one in my life needed a talking mounted bass fish or a snuggie.

Don't be like me. Save yourself the grief. As you begin to make your holiday shopping list, consider sponsoring a Commemorative Tree in recognition of someone as a gift instead of buying that reindeer sweater you are sure to buy in pure desperation.

By purchasing a Commemorative Tree you are not only buying a cool and interesting gift for someone you are also making the District a cleaner, healthier and more beautiful city and advancing our Urban Tree Canopy Goal of 40 percent by 2035.
There are two Commemorative Tree options - a public or a private dedication.

At a public dedication, the tree is planted during a spring (March - May) or fall (Oct - Dec) Community Tree Planting. Volunteers can plant the tree for you or you can choose to plant the tree with the help of your friends, family, etc. and Casey Trees staff.

At a private dedication, you decide when, where and the species of tree to be planted (from a pre-approved list). All you need to do is ensure you have the permission of the property owner of where you want to plant the tree. As with the public dedication, you can choose to help plant the tree or have our crew do it for you.
In addition to the tree planting, the recipient receives photos of the event and other commemorative items and the tree dedication is acknowledged online on the heavily trafficked Casey Trees Map.

So if you have been trying to come up with the perfect gift why not try giving that friend, loved one, boss, post man, your favorite barista, etc. something different and plant a tree in their honor.

Learn more about Commemorative Trees.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Guest Contributor - Jim Woodworth, Director of Tree Planting

As an arborist with a passion and bias for native species, it took me a while to come around to fully embracing and appreciating the Ginkgo tree for all its fascinating virtues. It is quite a curious tree.

Consider that the gingko biloba is the most ancient of tree specie
s dating back over 200 million years to a region in China and it's also an urban survivor, tolerant of pollution, abuse and tight growing spaces. Its form and habit is so upright and oddly architectural, it strikes quite a pose, framing the narrowest of city streetscapes.

The ginkgo has my vote for the most vibrant and stunning yellow fall color, and the unique, fan shaped leaf (biloba, meaning "two lobes"--if you look closely you will see) even served as stationary letter head for the 1400 Monroe Street NW block association.

The fruit, produced by female trees, is the main reason the ginkgo tree gets a bad rap. Considered to produce an offensive smell by some, the fruit is highly valued by some Asian cultures for its taste and key to longevity. While the fruit can admittedly emit a strong odor, the smell is truly the culprit of individuals allowing the fruit to drop and remain uncollected. The simple solution is to collect and dispose of the fruit on a regular basis. Collecting the fruit when done routinely takes just a few minutes.

The obvious question is "why not just plant male trees if female trees produce the fruit?" Great question, tricky answer. The species has evolved the ability to change sex as needed to ensure an appropriate ratio of male and female. You may plant a male tree but presto chango, the tree may become a female down the road. Nothing you can do.

What about chemical control or reproduction you say? Unfortunately, spraying and injecting does not seem to reliably do the trick and can prove expensive and a time waster.

We continue to plant ginkgo trees for several reasons. They make great shade trees and diversity is the key to a healthy urban forest. No matter what tree you plant, all trees present some potential social negatives such as leaf or fruit litter or conflicts with hardscape. So instead of shaking your finger at the ginkgo, allow yourself to appreciate it.

Read more about the curious ginkgo tree and other DC Arbor Issues.