Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Crew Starts Today

Casey Trees' High School Summer Crew takes to the streets for the first time today, kicking off an eight-week adventure of tree care and professional development. This year's crew is a diverse group of 11 high school students from the D.C. metro area. Selected from more than 100 applicants, the 2010 summer crew contains some of the area's most promising young leaders.

The summer crew will be responsible for tree stewardship activities for the next eight weeks. Tree care — watering, weeding, mulching, and pruning — is their primary responsibility. Interspersed throughout the summer will be activities in which the crew will learn about career opportunities in arboriculture.

These activities include:
  • Climbing giant oaks at the National Arboretum
  • Planting elms on Daingerfield Island with the National Park Service
  • Tree Space Design training with the Casey Trees director of Planning and Design
  • A GIS mapping tools exercise at the National Zoo

While most of the crew will travel in trucks, three will be on two wheels. Casey Trees' Water By-Cycle, the nation's first bicycle-powered program to water and care for a city's trees, is back in action this year. Led by an adult Casey Trees employee, the Water By-Cycle crew uses pedal power to get around the city. This enables them to travel faster, avoid traffic snarls and not worry about looking for parking spaces. The crew accesses water from D.C. fire hydrants with permission from DC Water. Casey Trees pays for the water used. Along with tree care and career opportunities, the Casey Trees summer crew will also learn job responsibility. This is the first job for some of the crew members, and the teamwork and leadership skills they learn will serve them well in the future.

Summer crew member Cartrell Williams, a senior at Spingarn High School in Ward 5, probably put it best when he said: “My hope is that together, we can make the community a better place. I believe this project will not only help me, but I will also take pride in knowing I can help the environment."

In the coming weeks, each crew member will write a blog post chronicling their summer experiences. In the meantime, check out their bios on the Casey Trees website.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Myth: Trees hide trouble makers.

Fact: Trees make neighborhoods more safe. A study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported that buildings with high levels of greenery surrounding them had 48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes than buildings surrounded by barren land.

The reason? Trees help make outdoor spaces more enjoyable to be in More people on the street/porches = more eyes on the street = greater risk of criminal activity being noticed = less crime. Well-cared for green spaces also serve as signal to would-be criminals that the residents of an area care about their surroundings and are engaged in the community.

And now a plea to water your trees. When you sit down to enjoy an ice cold lemonade on these hot summer days, remember that your trees get thirsty too. Practice 25 to Stay Alive and give your trees 25 gallons of water per week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Myth: Always stake trees after planting them.

Fact: Save the stakes for vampires - sorry Twilight fans - unless the tree's location warrants protection from car doors and/or law maintenance equipment.

These urban threats can sever a tree's water (phloem) and nutrient (xylem) transport systems, located directly under the bark, preventing nutrients from traveling from the roots to the leaves.

Protective stakes can be left unattached from the tree since they are only being used to keep objects away. Two or three stakes arranged around the tree is sufficient.

Staking a tree that does not need it can do more harm than good. Trunk movement strengthens the trunk by thickening it and stimulates root growth. Additionally, staking a tree incorrectly can lead to girdling.

Learn how to properly plant a tree and care for trees by visiting our website at www.caseytrees.org or by volunteering at a tree planting or care event.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Whew – it’s hot! I know you are all too aware of this. But it is not only very hot – it is very dry. And that spells trouble for trees.

Here at Casey Trees, we believe it is important to not only plant trees but also to care for them. And watering during very hot, dry spells is one of the most important things we can do for trees.

In order to keep you informed, we have created a
Tree Watering Guide. Each week on Monday, we issue a watering recommendation. The recommendation is based on a number of sources, primarily from the National Weather Service and the U.S Geological Survey.

These sources tell us that we are in our
sixth straight month of below average precipitation and that we are presently 17.5 inches below average since the end of November. For the period of the past seven days, the entire DC metro area is greater than 75 percent below average precipitation.

Beginning next Monday, our
High School Summer Crew will go to work watering trees planted by Casey Trees and our volunteers. Our Water By-Cycle Team, along with two additional Summer Crew teams, will visit these trees with supplemental watering over the summer. But DC is a big city and there are many, many trees. We need your help!

As we enter the 90 and (it seems inevitable) 100 degree days of summer, trees will show signs of water stress. And just as we cannot go without water for extended periods and then drink a lot of gallons at once to catch up, neither can trees go long without adequate soil moisture.

Please help us keep DC’s trees alive by:

  • Following the Tree Watering Guide weekly. It is posted on our home page, Facebook account and on Twitter Feed
  • Practice 25 to Stay Alive - give your trees the recommended 25 gallons of water per week during dry times
  • Pledge to water your trees and get a Casey Trees rain gauge to help you monitor rainfall at your home
  • Contact Casey Trees to get a free 25-gallon Ooze Tube drip irrigation bag to provide slow-release watering to your tree.
Thanks for helping us tree DC!


Myth: The deeper you plant a tree, the stronger the roots will grow.

Truth: Planting a tree too deep is one of the most common mistakes. Some trees will show signs of stress immediately but most likely you won't see the real harm until a few years down the road. Too deep and the roots don't have access to sufficient oxygen to ensure proper growth. Roots in poor health = reduced growth rate, increased disease susceptibility and atypical leaf size.

When digging a hole for a new tree, make the hole about three times as wide as the diameter of the root ball. As for depth, a tree should never be planted more deeply than the top of its root ball.

Learn how to properly plant a tree now.


Myth: A thick mulch layer is good for trees.

Truth: Mulching a newly planted tree is a great way to conserve soil moisture, minimize root damage and suppress weed growth.

However, too much mulch can actually can harm a tree. Girdling, bark decay and branch dieback can all occur. Remember, apply using the 3-3-3 method and avoid volcano-mulching.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I'm a little worried. There is a volcano just down the street from where I'm sitting.

Are you picturing an opening in the crust spewing lava or a too high mound of moisture-rich mulch? Both are hazardous, the latter is completely avoidable.

When mulch is pushed up along the sides of a tree trunk, it is referred to as "volcano mulching". Some people think this is attractive and mistakenly believe it helps trees establish themselves after being planted.

Mulching IS great for trees but only when done properly. Mulch conserves soil moisture, moderates soil temperature and reduces competition from roots of weeds.

Volcano mulching can lead to fatal consequences for a tree. Here are three reasons why you should abandon creating a reproduction of Mount Vesuvius at the base of your trees.

Bark decay - Mulch holds moisture but when it is stacked up against the trunk of a tree it can create conditions where the bark begins to decay. This allows openings for pests, fungi, bacteria and insects to get under the bark and cause internal problems.

Girdling - Tree roots naturally grow outwards. Layers of moist mulch can be too tempting for trees to resist and their roots will grow up into the mulch. Since most volcano mulching is circular, the roots try to stay in this moist environment by circling itself. This circling reduces the span of the root structure preventing the tree from accessing water and threatening its overall stability.

Branch die back - Some mulch (hardwood bark) releases the metallic element manganese into the soil when it decays. After repeated applications, the level of manganese can reach a point to where it starts to rob the tree of the iron it needs. In the end you get smaller leaves, leaf yellowing and branch dieback.

As I said, mulching is great for trees when done properly. Apply mulch using the 3-3-3- rule and your leaf and needle friends will thank you with cooling shade during the summer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Tall, cool and commanding, that tree outside your door seems like the ideal spokesperson for your upcoming yard sale or to announce to the world just how much you love the holidays.

But, before you grab your construction paper and twine, or strings of lights, consider the potential harm of using trees as signposts and permanent beacons of holiday cheer.

Girdling - Twine, wire or hose, all of these thing can cut into the trunk of a tree. As noted in yesterday's post, a tree's vascular system is located directly under the bark. Like a constricting snake these seemingly innocuous cords can girdle the tree, preventing vital water and nutrients from getting to where they are needed.

Holiday Lights - Everyone enjoys a holiday light show but these little beacons of joy can girdle trees if left on after the holidays. Strings of lights should also never be added around the trunks of trees to create permanent light shows. Two eastern redbuds in front of Hostelling International show scaring on their trunks from just such an oversight.

As you can see, hanging from trees is not the way to go, but hanging with trees is a different story! Find a time to hang out with some trees by checking out our upcoming Programs and Classes.


We have all seen them. Sets of initials carved into the bark of trees, the letters often kept company by an encircling heart.

While the relationships so commemorated may end up going the way of autumn leaves, the scar and damage to the tree is permanent. The reason?

A tree's food and water transport systems, the phloem and xylem respectively, are directly under the bark of the tree. When you cut into the tree, you sever this thin vascular system, preventing nutrients from traveling from the roots to the leaves.

Cutting into the bark also provides an opening for pathogens and resulting tree diseases.

So rather than a commemorative carving, how about a Commemorative Tree planting?

Monday, June 14, 2010


Like many urban dwellers, trees in the city make do with less space. The urban tree’s “apartment” is a tree box, an open and unpaved area in the sidewalk specifically set aside as a home for a tree.

Street trees are a valuable part of our urban landscape. These trees provide shelter for wildlife, shade from the hot summer sun, and clean our air. To ensure that your tree box residents stay happy and healthy, keep these guidelines in mind:

Do NOT disturb or harm tree roots.

If you decide to add plants to a tree box already housing a tree, do not use a rototiller or mechanical device to break up the soil. Most of a tree's roots are found within the upper 6 to 12 inches of soil and they can be easily severed by these devices. Severing one major root can cause the loss of up to 20 percent of the root system and affect its ability to anchor the tree.

Do NOT add plants that will compete with the tree.

Tree boxes are designed specifically to accommodate trees. Flowers and other small plants can compete with the tree for water and other nutrients potentially stunting its growth.

If you must add plants, follow the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Landscaping Design Criteria (47.5.2 Plants). Use plants that have a shallow root system, do not grow taller than 18 inches and will not extend outside of the box borders.

Also remember that tree boxes are considered public space. The District reserves the right to enter the tree box for construction and maintenance activities. DDOT will notify the abutting property owner if any beautification materials need to be removed to complete their work so that the owner may do so prior to the start of construction.

Do NOT change the grade or height of the tree box.

You may only add mulch to the tree box. Apply using the 3-3-3 Rule.

Do NOT build a solid border around a tree box.

Tree boxes must allow water to flow. Tree boxes made of brick or wood divert water around the box robbing the tree of water and contributing to stormwater runoff. The best type of tree box border is one that allows water to flow into the soil while also protecting the tree from the denizens of the sidewalk.

It should be three-sided, with the street side left open to prevent damage to vehicles. It should also be tall enough to prevent being a tripping hazard. 4 to 12 inches is a good rule for border height.

Read our Tree Space Design Report for innovative ways to create ideal environments for urban trees.

Do water your tree regularly.

Newly planted trees, those that have been in the ground less than three years, need regular watering to become established and thrive. Practice 25 to Stay Alive by watering trees on and surrounding your property 25 gallons of water per week. Casey Trees provides complimentary Ooze Tubes (drip irrigation bags) to help DC residents water their trees.

If you make the 25 to Stay Alive pledge, we will also send you a complimentary rain gauge to monitor rainfall totals at home. If you receive less than 1.5 inches of rain, it is time for you to water your trees.

Do remember that tree boxes are first and foremost for our trees.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Got weekend plans?

Join us this Sunday for the Brookland House and Garden Tour. Casey Trees' under construction headquarter and tree yard will be one of 14 host sites on the tour route. All sites are open to the public from 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. A reception for ticket holders takes place from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Come check out our tree yard and stay for one of the several activities we have planned during the afternoon.

12:30 p.m. - Headquarters Preview Tour
1:00 p.m. - Mini Tree Walk
1:45 p.m. - Tree Care Demonstration
2:30 p.m. - Headquarters Preview Tour
3:00 p.m. - Rain/Rooftop Garden Preview
3:45 p.m. - Mini Tree Walk

Tickets are $10.00 per person and available for purchase in advance and the day of at Petals, Ribbons and Beyond at 3906 12th Street NE.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Do you like deals?

Do you like trees?

I do.
I like them a lot.

Casey Trees has forged a new partnership with
Deals for Deeds that will allow us to plant more trees in the District. However, the number of trees that we plant is entirely dependent upon you. That's right....YOU!

For every 250 people who sign up for a
FREE Deals for Deeds member account by October 1, 2010, Deals For Deeds will sponsor the planting of one tree. Sponsored trees will be planted in the fall through Casey Trees’ Community Tree Planting program.

Launched in April, Deals For Deeds is the only deal-of-the-day website to facilitate community development and social giving. When purchasing a deal, members select a featured charity for Deals For Deeds to donate five percent of their total purchase to.

For new accounts to apply towards tree sponsorship, participants must sign up on Deals For Deeds’ Plant a Tree in DC web page and live within a 30-mile radius of Washington D.C.

Sign up today to start getting great deal offers and help us add new trees in the District this fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



I have three weddings to go to this summer. I cannot and will not buy any more Squirting Dish Scrubs, Roast and Serve Turkey Lifters, Banana Hangers or Expandable Shoe Racks - all actual items listed in my nephew's registry. Your gift options get even worse the closer to the wedding date.

While I know that registries are meant to simplify gift giving and ensure that the recipient receives items he or she wants, many of the listed items fail to convey the significance of the event. I really doubt that my nephew will be transported back to the day he exchanged vows with his love after eyeing the Banana Hanger I bought him for his wedding day. I could be wrong but I do not think so.

I prefer to give gifts with greater meaning such as a Commemorative Tree. Through Casey Trees Commemorative Tree Planting Program you can sponsor the planting of trees in the District to honor the lives and accomplishments of loved ones and commemorate special events.

You can select a public dedication where the tree is planted at a Community Tree Planting site or a private dedication where you select the location and date. The recipient receives a commemorative card and a framed leaf of the tree. No matter where the tree is planted it will serve as a lasting legacy.

Think of all the summer events you need to attend this summer - weddings, graduations, baptisms, bar and bat mitzvahs, etc. You can't go empty handed and you don't want to be the person who brings the banana hanger.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Last month we highlighted the Sweetbay Magnolia, a beautiful, sweet-smelling ornamental tree. Today we want to highlight its larger cousin, the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) or bull bay.

The Southern Magnolia is native to the southeastern United States, stretching from coastal North Carolina, south to central Florida and then west to Texas. It is found on the edge of bodies of water and swamps.

Like most Magnolia species, the Southern Magnolia has large, fragrant, cream-colored flowers and evergreen leaves that make it a wonderful tree for ornamental use and an effective windbreaker or street tree.

The Southern Magnolia can grow up to 80 feet and have a spread of up to 40 feet if given the proper care. The leaves are dark green, stiff and leathery. Each grows about 5 to 8 inches long and has smooth margins. The bark is brown to gray, thin and smooth when young. The white, citronella-scented flowers bloom from April to June and attract birds and insects.

Facts about the Southern Magnolia that you can use as ice breakers at your next party:
  • Symbolic of the American South, the Southern Magnolia is the state tree of Mississippi and the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana.
  • The largest known Southern Magnolia is located in Smith County, MS. It is 122 feet tall and has a diameter of 6 feet.
  • In some parts of England, the flowers are pickled and eaten.