Thursday, September 30, 2010

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.

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