Thursday, September 30, 2010

CTP 411: Where Do the Trees Come From?

Contributing Writer - David DiPietro, Urban Forestry Manager

This fall we will plant over 850 trees consisting of 60 different species across the District at 20 Community Tree Plantings and 218 residential properties enrolled in the RiverSmart Homes program. It is up to the Urban Forestry Manager - me - to locate and coordinate the purchase, delivery and storage of the trees. It is very important to be familiar with and purchase trees from nurseries in the surrounding areas for a couple of reasons.

One, the trees will do best if replanted in similar soil. For example, a tree grown in Georgia will have a much different soil composition than one grown in the mid Atlantic, thus resulting in added stressors for the tree.

Secondly, nursery stock varies greatly, from poor to exceptional and everything in between, and so do their growing practices. High quality trees grown with care have much better chances for success.

No one nursery will have every tree species we require. It can be necessary to pull from as many as five or more nurseries to procure all the trees. Once the nurseries are identified we can coordinate our deliveries. A tractor trailer full of trees will pull up to our yard in Brookland for unloading. We utilize a small material loader and ball carts to unload and place the trees in our yard. Staging the trees is an issue because our yard can only hold about 225 trees.

On September 28th we had our first of four large deliveries, which average approximately 200 trees per delivery. At the yard we stage the trees in organized rows per species. Each tree is tagged with the species, delivery date and which nursery it came from. These trees will be loaded up and delivered to their new home - possibly yours!

Apply for a CTP. Volunteer at a CTP event. Download the fall CTP schedule. Sponsor a CTP event.

CTP 411: How Are the Tree Species Selected?

Contributing Writer - David DiPietro, Urban Forestry Manager

All of our Community Tree Plantings (CTP) start with an application. We don't tell people where trees should go, individuals and groups come to us and say we want trees here. When trees are planted where they are wanted, there is a collective interest in their long term survival. Groups that receive trees agree to water and mulch them throughout their two year establishment period. When there is not that pre-existing buy-in, trees don't get cared for or monitored and they are more likely to die.

After a CTP application has been accepted, we assign a Lead Citizen Forester to work with the Project Organizers (PO) to determine what tree species to plant and where to plant them. We work closely with the POs to make sure their treescape plan meets their goals since the goals of each are different. Some want to introduce seasonal color to their landscape, others want shade or additional privacy and so on.

So how do we decide what trees to plant and where to plant them? It's a complicated answer, my friends.

We perform site visits, utilize aerial photography and gather site history in order to establish a planting palette. CTP groups mark the planting locations on a map. That helps for planning logistics and knowing where the trees go on the day of planting. After planting, that information is added to the Casey Trees Map.

Considerations such as: overhead utility lines, underground utilities, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, environmental exposure, topography, soil composition and surrounding vegetation are taken into account when establishing suitable species. Unless the tree is considered invasive, we do not outright refuse any tree selections. Some rare or exotic species may not be available for purchase and some may not be a valid option due to the aforementioned considerations.

The urban environment is very harsh for trees. Some trees are more tolerant of urban settings than others. It is important to utilize hardy species at sites that are close to roadways, parking lots, buildings and other urban stressors. (Learn which tree species do well in the District).

One of our goals at CT is to bring people together, plant trees and enjoy the benefits. That being said, we want to accommodate our CTP applicants as much as possible without jeopardizing the newly planted trees or their future.

Apply for a CTP. Volunteer at a CTP event. Download the fall CTP scheduleSponsor a CTP event.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The CTP 411

Our fall Community Tree Planting (CTP) season kicks off this Saturday afternoon with the planting of 25 trees on the grounds of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish in NW. Those doing the planting are our new batch of Citizen Foresters enrolled in this week's Tree Planting class. This is the first of 20 tree planting events scheduled to take place this fall between October 2 and December 11. When winter hits, over 400 new trees will be calling the District home.

Thousands of volunteers have helped us plant trees across DC through the CTP program since it launched in 2005 but not everyone knows how planting sites are selected, where the trees come from, the role of Lead Citizen Foresters in stewarding the projects, how all the trees and tools magically appear the morning of the planting, who the saint is that delivers coffee and bagels and so on.

The next two weeks of blog posts will demystify the process and bring much deserved attention to those who make the re-treeing of DC possible. Our very own Urban Forestry Manager, David DiPietro, will author the posts and get us excited for fall - the ideal time to plant trees.

For those of you interested in volunteering to help plant trees, view the complete fall CTP schedule, then sign up to attend. If you would like to become a Citizen Forester, make a day of it and register for the Tree Planting class this Saturday, October 2. All our classes are free unless noted.