Thursday, June 30, 2011

Suckers - One Born Every Minute?

Contributing Writer - Shawn Walker, Urban Forestry Instructor 

What are Suckers?

In the world of tree care, the term suckers refers to unwanted twigs that grow rapidly on abnormal parts of a tree. They typically grow as a result of a wound or stressor (e.g. drought, disease, insects, and root zone disruption) and can often be harmful to a tree’s health.

Sucker growing from pruned tree - adventitious growth.
Photo credit: Todd Watson, Texas A&M University,

A few facts about suckers:
  • They often originate from the root zone or the base of the trunk, but can be found anywhere on the tree.
  • The leaves that emerge from sucker growth are generally larger (much like shade leaves), exhibiting atypical characteristics.
  • Tree pruning can contribute to the formation of suckers.
  • Other specific terms that indicate various types of sucker growth include epicormic growth, adventitious growth and water sprouts.

Examples of sucker growth can be found throughout D.C.’s urban forest. The District's American elms often have sucker growth along the lateral stems in the tree’s crown, as a reaction to urban stress or pruning activity. If you live in central D.C., check out the stately willow oaks that line Rhode Island Avenue on the blocks just east of North Capitol Street and you may see a few with suckers in their crowns as well.

Sucker growth from emerald ash borer damage.
Photo credit: Michigan Department of Agriculture,

Should I remove them?

Yes - in most cases. Because of their rapid growth, suckers tap into the valuable food stores that keep trees healthy. Additionally, suckers can be hazardous both to pedestrians and to the strength of a tree’s structure.

Occasionally, suckers that develop along lateral branches of a tree’s crown can be advantageous. You can preserve some suckers to encourage the formation of new interior branches, as long as they are attached to the main stem and will not grow to eventually conflict with existing limbs.

As a general rule, the removal of suckers will benefit your tree. Winter is the safest time to remove unwanted suckers, as wounds are less likely to form and diseases and insects are inactive. But if sucker growth is clearly posing a hazard or is an obvious detriment to the overall health of the tree, the best time to prune is now. See our post on summer pruning for tips on how to prune a tree.

OK, let’s say it together: ‘So long, suckers!’

Summer Tree Care: Making Gardening and Lawn Care Safe for Trees

Summer is a time when lawn or garden maintenance can present dangers to your trees, often lurking in your own hands. While all trees are susceptible to trunk damage from lawnmowers, weed whackers or other garden-care tools, immature or newly planted trees are especially vulnerable. An injury to its trunk can prevent vital nutrients and water from reaching the tree, ultimately causing it to die. Luckily, this can be easily avoided by taking a few precautionary measures.

A weed-whacker claims another victim.

Placing a tree trunk protector around the base of your young trees is one of the cheapest and most simple safety measures. These plastic protectors shield your trees from bladed tools and expand as they mature with time and care.

Trees with trunk protectors and proper mulching planted at a Community Tree Planting event.

Spreading mulch at the base of your tree is another great way to avoid damage from a lawnmower or weed-whacker. Whenever mulching, we suggest following the “3-3-3 Rule” – spread three inches of mulch in a three-foot circle with a three-inch space around the trunk. Not only will the mulch protect your tree from getting weed-whacked, it also helps keep the soil moist and control weed growth at your tree’s trunk. Make sure to avoid volcano mulching at all cost. This improper mulching method will retain too much moisture around a tree’s base, causing bark decay or root girdling.

A well planned mulch island can greatly increase protection to your trees. Photo credit: colleen

A third option in tree safety is sculpting a mulch island – sectioning off a portion of your property for trees and other plants to be filled with mulch, without surrounding grass. While this safety precaution might be the most costly, it’s also an inviting, low maintenance alternative if you want less lawn to maintain and more protection for your trees.

For more tree care tips, check out the resources available on our website.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our ad in the Cap Comm. News - a friendly reminder to water trees

Summer Crew Update #2: Why I Joined Summer Crew

Contributing Writer - Mitchell Holmes, Summer Crew Team Member

Mitchell Holmes carries water at a tree care event at Michigan Park in Ward 5.
I applied to work on Casey Trees' Summer Crew for three reasons.

First, I expected the work would be physically stimulating and keep me outdoors. I wanted work that would challenge my body and keep me moving. Working on the Summer Crew has proven to be just that. With all the bucket carrying, running hoses and traveling across the city, it has pushed me to my limits as I had hoped.

Second, I wanted to learn more about the environment. One of our initial training sessions involved learning how to correctly identify trees and about the physical, financial and social benefits they provide. Trees play an important role in our environment - much more than most people realize. Trees provide cooling shade, mitigate stormwater, provide oxygen and much more.

Summer Crew members learning tree identification from Casey Trees staff member Meg Johnson.
Lastly, I wanted to explore the city through different eyes. It is easy to not see beyond D.C.'s buildings and construction. Working for Casey Trees, I have come to notice how many trees are in the District and how much they contribute to my overall enjoyment of the nation's capital.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Class Recap: Trees 101

Congratulations to the new Citizen Foresters who attended our free Trees 101 class on Saturday! 25 participants from the District and Maryland came out to our headquarters on Saturday morning for the introductory class. Attendees enjoyed a light breakfast while they learned about Casey Trees, the urban forest, tree anatomy, tree functions, and basic tree identification.

During the last hour of Trees 101, instructors Priscilla Bocskor, Shawn Walker and Katie Heffernan led the class on a tree walk around the area. Participants enjoyed the beautiful weather and practiced their tree identification skills during the walk. A contest was held at the end of the morning for attendees to guess the diameter of a large basswood (Tilia americana) in the neighborhood. Winners received free Casey Trees t-shirts.

Tree walk outside the Casey Trees headquarters.
Interested in learning more about the District's trees? Check out our calendar for upcoming summer events, including a Tree Walk at Tudor Place on July 23.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Crew Update #1: First Impressions

Contributing Writer - Zana Holden-Gatling, Summer Crew Team Member

Team-building exercise on the first day of Summer Crew.
We learned so many things in our first week of Summer Crew that it was almost overwhelming. Even the first day was a lot to take in. The staff explained the mission of Casey Trees, urban tree canopy goals (going from a 35% canopy rate in D.C. to 40% by 2035), safety procedures, responsibilities of Summer Crew members and opportunities for career development. I'll admit I was concerned - could I handle all of this information?

The next day we had an introduction to tree species identification. I felt like I didn't know the answers to any of the questions and I wondered how I would manage to keep up. It became clear that I would have to stay focused and determined.

Learning the basics in orientation.
Arriving at the tree yard on the third day, my confidence was up and I began to feel more comfortable in my role on the Summer Crew team. Despite getting my shoes and clothes soaked, things started to look up. On the first day I couldn't tell a silver maple from a red maple or a sweet gum from a black gum, but I'm on my way to becoming a tree ID expert. I now feel like I can be there to help out my fellow team members. I'm excited to learn more about job responsibility, career development and most importantly how to care for our city's trees.

Tree Care Event: Washington Mystics at Michigan Park

Karima Christmas helps Summer Crew member Grace Poole water a tree planted by Casey Trees.

This past Friday, June 24, members of the Washington Mystics joined Casey Trees’ High School Summer Crew to help water trees at Michigan Park in Northeast, D.C. Victoria Dunlap and Karima Christmas – both rookies for the Mystics – were the players in attendance.

Between the efforts of the Mystics and the Summer Crew, 54 trees were watered, including all of the recent Casey Trees plantings as well as plenty of other trees in the park. Casey Trees planted 21 new trees at Michigan Park during a particularly rainy Community Tree Planting event last April. (View photos on Flickr) In the District, summertime is an especially critical time to monitor your trees’ health, so this week’s watering provided some much needed care to these young trees!

To learn more about watering, check out our Tree Watering Guide – a best practices guide to keeping your trees hydrated in the summer’s heat. To know just how much water your trees need for the week ahead, follow our tree watering recommendations on Facebook or Twitter every Monday throughout the summer. This week's watering recommendation is "Normal" so watering is optional, although there are likely plenty of hot and dry days ahead this summer so be sure to keep them watered well.

See more photos from this tree care event at Michigan Park on Flickr.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Arbor Kids on the Go teaching youth about trees

Casey Trees is hitting the road!

Our education department is launching a new program coined "Arbor Kids on the Go" to connect District youth to the City's urban forest. From June 28 until August 17, Casey Trees staff will travel to registered summer programs and engage youth in interactive tree focused activities.

Already 16 camps, schools, and churches, representing more than 1,000 youth, have signed up to participate. The good news is that spots are still available!

Here is why Arbor Kids on the Go is a great idea:
  • Our staff will travel to you. If your regular meeting site does not have an outdoor area with trees, we will coordinate an alternate meeting place such as a park near you.
  • Repeat visits. You can request up to three instructor led activities, each lasting approximately an hour. Each lesson is geared toward youth ages 3 to 15.
  • Variety of activities. Arbor Kids on the Go activities include tree identification, tree anatomy, tree benefits, scavenger hunts, tree measurements, leaf and bark rubbings and more!
  • Inclusion of all attendants. We ask that groups include 20-30 youth, with one adult per 10 children. Larger groups can request multiple sessions so everyone can be allowed to participate. 
  • Free lessons. Arbor Kids on the Go is free... but donations are welcome.
If you are interested in bringing Arbor Kids on the Go to a youth summer program, contact Sophia Shiaris or Liz Ball at 202-833-4010, extension 108, or by email: Sophie at and Liz at
    Meet the Instructors: Liz Ball (left) and Sophia Shiaris (right). Coming to a camp near you!

    This is the perfect opportunity to keep your kids occupied with fun activities and to foster lifelong learning. Don't miss out! And don't forget to check out our Arbor Kids page for fun tree activities to do at home.

    Summer Tree Spots: National Zoo

    If you live in or have ever visited the Washington D.C. area, you have spent an afternoon at the family-friendly Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

    The lions, tigers and bears are impressive but so is the Zoo's diverse collection of trees. Tree species you can find throughout include Himalayan pine, Turkish hazel, green and white ash, yellowwood and golden catalpa. Although trees usually take a back seat to the animals - especially the pandas - the National Zoo is one of the best places in D.C. to practice your tree identification skills and find some cooling shade during our notoriously hot summer months.

    A moment of serenity in the National Zoo. Photo credit: Mo Kaiwen

    While we have yet to coordinate a Community Tree Planting (CTP) event at the Zoo - hint, hint - we have coordinated GIS scavenger hunts for our Summer Crew team members on the grounds and helped the Smithsonian Institution do an inventory of their trees. If you want to check out some of the Casey Trees-planted trees nearby, stroll down to Kalorama Park in Adams Morgan. Casey Trees hosted CTPs at Kalorama Park in the fall of 2008 and 2005. You can also locate other Casey Trees-planted trees in close proximity to the Zoo using the Casey Trees Map.

    The Zoo is Metro accessible, free to the public and open 10:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. during the summer. If you haven't visited the Zoo recently, find some time this summer to enjoy all its natural offerings - trees and animals alike.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Thank You, Advisory Board Volunteers!

    Kudos to all the volunteers who helped out at a tree care event yesterday! 5 volunteers from The Advisory Board and one resident from Petworth came out to help us water 25 trees at Sherman Circle and 15 trees at Saint Gabriel's Catholic Church.

    Casey Trees hosted a Community Tree Planting event at Saint Gabriel's last November (see photos from this event), and one at Sherman Circle last April. It's important that the young trees we planted at both sites now receive proper care and adequate water. Yesterday, Thursday June 21, we were able to attend to their needs with the help of the volunteers. Thank you so much for your time and effort!

    A volunteer waters one of the 25 trees that were cared for at Sherman Circle on Thursday.

    Volunteer groups will be helping us follow 25 to Stay Alive for our newly planted trees all summer. If you are interested in organizing a tree care event, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Carol Herwig at Feel free to check out our other volunteer opportunities as well.

    Announcing the Summer Almanac

    Marking the first day of summer, we released our Summer Almanac, a tree care guide to help individuals prepare trees on and surrounding their property for D.C.'s hot, dry summer months.

    Casey Trees advises District residents to:
    • Practice 25 to Stay Alive. Trees, especially those that have been in the ground less than three years, need 25 gallons of water - approximately 1.5 inches of rainfall - per week in the spring, summer and fall to survive and thrive.
    • Weed. Remove summer grasses from around the trunk.
    • Check Trunk Guards. Weed whackers and lawn mowers can cause severe damage to a tree's circulation system. Add tree guards to the base of the tree if landscaping equipment is used around the tree. Check installed tree guards to make sure they are installed properly.
    • Check Arbor Ties. Your tree started growing in height and girth in the spring and will continue to do so this summer. If your tree is still anchored by stakes and arbor ties, check the ties. Remove them if they are too tight or girdling the tree trunk. Anticipate your tree will put on some new girth.
    • Mulch. Mulching helps keep the soil moist and controls weeds. If you did not mulch in spring, now would be a good time. Apply the "3-3-3 Rule" - three inches of mulch in a three-foot ring with a three-inch space around the tree trunk to prevent decay.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Class Preview: Trees 101

    There are still a few spots left in our next free class! Trees 101 will be held on Saturday, June 25th from 9 a.m. until noon at the Casey Trees headquarters, 3030 12th Street NE. Registration is required if you want to attend, so be sure to sign up!

    Staff members Priscilla Bocskor and Shawn Walker will teach you a bit about everything, from Casey Trees’ programs to understanding the basics of tree anatomy. You will also learn about the benefits of trees and how to identify tree species. For the last hour of the class, you can practice your new tree identification skills during a tree walk in the Brookland neighborhood led by Shawn. A light breakfast will be provided.

    Whether you're looking to become a Citizen Forester or just to learn more about the District's trees, Trees 101 is a great way to connect with our city's urban forest. If you can't make it this Saturday, don't forget about our other summer classes, including Trees 201 on July 16 and Stand Up for Trees on August 27. Be sure to check our calendar for more upcoming events as well. 

    What kind of tree do these leaves belong to? You'll learn the answer and much more at Trees 101.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    High School Summer Crew Season Begins Today

    Contributing Writer: Priscilla Bocskor, Education Coordinator

    Today is the start of our 2011 High School Summer Crew! This is the 10th year of Casey Trees High School Summer Crew where 10 local students age 16 and older work for eight weeks over the summer. Our crew members were selected from many highly qualified students who applied, interviewed and attended our Field Try Out. We were fortunate to have over 100 applicants for the positions and we are really excited about this year's group.

    Summer Crew, Class of 2011

    The main duty of the summer crew students will be to water, weed and mulch trees Casey Trees has planted in the past three years. Newly planted trees in the stressed urban environment need extra care to become established. These trees need 1.5 inches of rain a week or 25 gallons of water to develop healthy root systems.

    Six of the Summer Crew Students will be traveling around D.C. performing maintenance in trucks while four of the students, along with two Casey Trees staffers, will make up the Casey Trees Water-By-Cycle team. The Water-By-Cycle team will bike around D.C. in order to reach their designated maintenance sites.

    In addition to this work, the Summer Crew students will have a chance to participate in four Career Development Days. These Career Development Days are rewards for meeting their tree touch goals (every time the students visit a tree to water, weed, or mulch counts as one tree touch). Students will have to work closely and effectively together to reach these goals. The Development Days include planting elm trees at Dangerfield Island, learning to climb trees at the National Arboretum and doing a tree identification scavenger hunt at the National Zoo.

    Watering trees next to the Casey Trees office.

    The 10 Summer Crew students will each be writing a blog post about their experiences so check back to read all about it. We will also have posts from Casey Trees staff about Summer Crew and Water By-Cycle. Keep a look out - you might just see the Summer Crew hard at work in your neck of the woods this summer!

    View more photos of the Summer Crew's first day on Flickr.

    Thank You, Independent Sector Volunteers!

    Thanks so much to everyone from Independent Sector for helping us keep our trees healthy! This past Friday, 15 volunteers from Independent Sector planted and watered 10 fruit trees (replacements and new trees) and watered 50 trees along the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Casey Trees hosted community tree planting events in April and this past December on the Met Branch Trail. Kelly Pack from Rails to Trails Conservancy also attended along with seven Casey Trees staff members.

    Volunteer groups will be helping us follow 25 to Stay Alive for our newly planted trees all summer. If you are interested in organizing a tree care event, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Carol Herwig at

    A couple of trees planted by us on the Met Branch Trail in April.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Friday Photo Feature - June 17, 2011

    Our Tree Yard on a sunny and rainy afternoon.
    View more on Flickr or submit your own photos of trees.

    Class Recap: CSI for Bugs

    Finding chewed or discolored leaves on your beloved trees and plants? How do you know what is responsible and what you can do about it?

    This past Wednesday night, Dr. Michael J. Raupp, Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland, College Rark presented a class at the Fort Dupont Activity Center in Ward 8 titled "CSI for Bugs." The focus: how to spot these pests that love to chow down on the plants you work so hard to care for and what actions you can take.

    A group of 12 - along with a number of Casey Trees' staff - came prepared for this serious lesson in bug identification, learning how to I.D. and determine what measures to take if your plant or tree has fallen prey to a bug.

    Professor Raupp presented the 'symptomatology' method of diagnosis. Rather than focusing on who is responsible for the damage, focus on what type of damage is present. It can be difficult to properly identify insects, but a plant's symptoms are usually very clear. Oftentimes no further action needs to be taken, as the delicate balance of nature and the interactions of other insects will be enough to preserve the plant's health. However, in the case that symptoms are present on 50% or more of your tree or plant, intervention may become necessary.

    Evidence abounds - a critter's presence hath been found.
    Different insects will present different symptoms and types of damage. Defoliation is likely the work of large caterpillars, sawflies, slugs or grasshoppers. The elm leaf beetle or Japanese beetle are the culprits responsible for leaf skeletonizaton. The presence of silk denotes tent caterpillars, webworms or leaftiers. One notable invasive bug that D.C. residents are surely aware of is the Halyomorpha halys, most commonly known as the stink bug. Raupp predicts that stink bugs will only grow more numerous in coming years and spread beyond their current range, further south and west beyond the Mid-Atlantic states.

    Later in the evening, Raupp led the group in a field activity so those in attendance could put their newly acquired bug identification skills to work. The group examined five tree species, including pin oak, mulberry, willow, poplar and tulip tree - each having some visible sign of insect damage. After the lesson, these amateur entomologists walked away with a good introduction to insect plant and tree damage.

    Professor Raupp takes the class outside for an identification session.
    If you missed out on this chance to hone your pest detection skills, you can still check out Dr. Raupp’s bug of the week site as well as our calendar of upcoming events. We have a variety of classes in coming weeks, including Trees 101 and Trees 201 where you can learn more about tree anatomy and identification.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Tree and Slope Protection Overlays

    Contributor: Scott Brown, Planning Associate

    The recent release of Casey Trees’ Third Annual Tree Report Card has generated much discussion about tree protection, one of the five metrics used to determine the District's overall grade of C. The tree protection metric, the measure of the effectiveness of the Urban Forest Preservation Act (UFPA) of 2002, received a failing grade.

    While the tree protection metric evaluates the success of the UFPA, there are lesser-known regulatory tools called Tree and Slope Protection Overlays in place to help safeguard D.C.’s trees. While Tree and Slope Protection overlays exist in a very small portion of the District, they merit discussion.

    What is an overlay?
    An overlay is a special zoning district for a specific geographic area that provides supplemental regulations to the underlying zoning district (R-1, R-2, C-1, etc.). In general, overlays build in additional protections often for the purposes of urban design, historic preservation or environmental buffering. Three Tree and Slope Protection Overlays in D.C. - The Tree & Slope Protection (TSP) overlay, the Forest Hills Tree & Slope Protection overlay (FH-TSP) and the Chain Bridge-University Terrace (CB/UT) - do just that. All have similar protections and are located in Ward 3. You can see each overlay in the map below.

    Each of the three Tree and Slope Overlays provide the following:
    • Total protection for all trees with a circumference of 75 inches or more. These trees cannot be removed, even with a permit unless they are dead or diseased.
    • Prevents removal of more than 3 trees measuring 38 inches in circumference. These removals cannot take place within 25 feet of a property line abutting the public right of way.
    • Prohibits removal of more than 25% of the total trees 12 inches and wider.
    • Forbids building permit will be issued for the site for seven years for violators.
    • Limits building footprints to 30% of the total lot area and no more than 50% of the lot can be covered by impervious surface.
    Learn more about the Tree and Slope Overlays on the DC Office of Zoning website.

    Summer Tree Care: Pruning

    Thanks again to everyone who helped us prune trees at Murch Elementary on Saturday! If you attended the event, kudos for knowing how to prune. And if you missed it, you’re in luck! This summer we will be blogging summer care tips every other Thursday so you can help D.C.’s trees stay healthy. Today’s topic—you guessed it—summer pruning.

    A clean final cut.
    Some literature suggests that pruning should only be done in the winter. But while winter pruning may be better for structural purposes, the summer is actually a great time to remove dead or injured branches. When a tree has its leaves, you can distinguish the dead branches from the live branches much more easily than when the whole tree is bare. Dead branches make the tree more vulnerable to insects and disease and should be pruned promptly.

    So if you’ve noticed any trees with dead or damaged parts, don’t wait until winter! You can help your tree out now. Before you begin, here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • Don't over-prune! No more than 25% of a tree’s canopy should be pruned in one year—especially if you are working with a young tree.
    • Prune parts that are threatening to the tree’s health. Branches that are dead, damaged, or crisscrossed all qualify.
    • Leave elm trees alone for now. Because of their susceptibility to Dutch elm disease, elms should not be pruned during summertime.
    • Always wear head and eye protection to avoid injury.
    • Some pruning care—such as the use of a chainsaw to remove extra heavy branches or branches far out of reach—should be handled by a professional. Check out the replay of last week’s Tree Talk Thursday for more information on certified arborists.

    A twisted branch can harm an otherwise healthy tree. Photo credit: HaeckDesign

    Since pruning is a skill that takes practice, it is best to learn how to prune from an expert before trying it on your own. We suggest becoming a Citizen Forester. Citizen Foresters can participate in our pruning events, which will take place once a month for the remainder of the summer. For dates and locations see our calendar. If you’re interested in becoming a Citizen Forester, sign up for our next qualifying class: Trees 101. If you really want to get into pruning, we also provide training sessions in the winter where you can officially become a Citizen Pruner.

    For more pruning information, check out the Department of Agriculture's "How to Prune Trees" pamphlet. Thanks for helping us take care of the District's trees, and don't forget to check back for more summer tree care tips!

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Murch Elementary Pruning Recap

    This past Saturday morning, 12 volunteers attended a pruning workshop at Murch Elementary School in Northwest D.C., the first of four opportunities this summer developed to help Citizen Foresters improve their pruning skills and provide much needed structural pruning to some of the District's trees.

    Freshly cut and piled branches.

    Casey Trees staff demonstrated a number of pruning techniques - always emphasizing safety - and introduced participants to a number of pruning tools - some familiar, others new. Many of the pruned trees were those Casey Trees' volunteers had previously planted at the school through its Community Tree Planting (CTP) program. Murch has partnered with Casey Trees on four CTP events over the years. This weekend's pruning exercise was another investment by Murch and Casey Trees in ensuring the trees thrive. See more photos from this event on Flickr.

    Casey Trees' Urban Forestry Instructor Shawn Walker demonstrates for two volunteers.

    Our pruning workshops are intended to be informative but are primarily are work days and as such are reserved for Citizen Foresters who have previous pruning experience and can examine and prune trees properly and efficiently. More than 100 trees were "touched" by Casey Trees volunteers.

    If you're interested in becoming at Citizen Forester or learning more about the program, you can visit the Citizen Forester webpage or sign up for an upcoming Citizen Forester-qualifying class, Trees 101, on Saturday, July 25 at 9:00 a.m. The class is free and it is a great way to learn about trees and meet like-minded people.

    Sometimes pruning can really draw a crowd.

    The second pruning event will take place at Simon Elementary School on Saturday, July from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Southeast. If you are a Citizen Forester and want to sharpen your pruning skills, email Shawn Walker, Urban Forestry Instructor. Those who participate in three or all of the pruning workshops will receive a pair of their very own pruning shears.

    If you are not free to attend, be sure to continue caring for trees on and surrounding your property this summer. Check our website for pruning and other tree-care tips.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Friday Photo Feature - June 10, 2011

    The dried out base of a street tree. Practice 25 to Stay Alive and water your trees in this hot weather!
    View more on Flickr or submit your own photos of trees.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Summer Tree Spots: Fort Dupont Park

    Staying in town this weekend and need suggestions for where to go? All this summer we’ll highlight spots across the District boasting tree canopies that make them ideal locations for an afternoon picnic, relaxing walk or bike ride.

    This week’s Summer Tree Spot is Fort Dupont Park. Located in Southeast D.C. at the intersection of Minnesota and Massachusetts Avenues and adjacent to Ridge Road, Fort Dupont is a historic site that once defended the District from Confederate attack in the Civil War. The 400-acre sites features a hiker-bike trail, athletic courts and fields, picnic areas and community gardens. Remains of the fort are quite evident (located at the picnic groves off of Alabama Avenue SE) along with an amazing and diverse urban forest.

    Bike path in Fort Dupont Park. Photo Credit: dannyfowler
    Fort Dupont is home to a wide range of tree species, many of which are native to the Washington area. Whether you are a Certified Arborist or just simply want to seek refuge in the shade on a warm summer’s day, the park’s impressive selection of tree species is a sight anyone can appreciate. By the Minnesota and Massachusetts Avenues entrance there are clusters of silver maple; black locust; and southern chestnut. Another section of the park is native woodlands, comprised of chestnut oaks, boxelders, sycamores and American beeches.

    In Spring 2006, Casey Trees hosted a Community Tree Planting event at Fort Dupont Park. You can view  photos from this event on our Flickr photo archive and locate the Casey Trees-planted trees there using the Casey Trees Map. Why not take a walk or ride to Fort Dupont and take a look at how our trees are doing in person? Fort Dupont Park is metro accessible and parking is available on site.

    Casey Trees volunteers after a Community Tree Planting at Fort Dupont in March, 2006.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    This Week on Tree Talk Thursday, Certified Arborists

    Let your arborist handle the tricky work.
    Have you ever needed an arborist for your tree-care needs? While most people are capable of tending to their trees’ most basic needs like watering and mulching, more technical or sometimes dangerous tasks should be handled by a certified arborist.

    Tune in tomorrow, Thursday June 9 at 12:00 PM EDT for a live, online discussion with MAC-ISA Board President Todd Nedorostek on the benefits of hiring a certified arborist.

    To submit a question in advance, email or tweet @CaseyTrees. Tree Talk Thursday is held regularly on the second Thursday of the each month from 12:00 to 1:00 PM EDT and can be accessed here.

    Class Preview: CSI for Bugs

    You didn't see it, but you know it's been there. The tiny pest that's inhabiting your plant has yet again left its mark. Try as you might to seek out and identify the little bugger, all that is left is another discolored leaf or flower and your irrevocable frustration.

    Do you give up? Allow the pest to feast? Hire a private investigator? No need. On June 15 you can become the private investigator when you attend our instructive class, CSI for Bugs: Honing Your Diagnostic Skills. Michael J. Raupp, Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist from the University of Maryland will instruct the class, which will be held at the Fort Dupont Activity Center from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m.

    Thrips are only one milimeter long, but they can discolor your plant significantly. Photo credit: Maximilian Paradiz
    Throughout the evening, you will learn how to identify pests and insects based on the evidence they leave behind. If leaf discoloration is the problem, you'll learn what clues to look for: if there are streaks, for example, you're probably dealing with thrips. In addition to discoloration, the class will also cover distorted plant parts, eggs, and other common types of damage.

    Learning to identify the perpetrator is an important step in effectively getting your plant's pest problem under control. At the end of the evening, you will get to put your new skills to the test with a field activity. We know all the evening's talk about your pests' dining habits may make you hungry, so don't worry. A light dinner will be provided.

    Register online for the CSI: Honing Your Diagnostic Skills class. Space is limited and registration is required. You can also read about instructor Michael J. Raupp's Bug of the Week here.  Also don't forget to check out the rest of our upcoming events. We hope to see you June 15 at this fun and informative event!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Capitol Grounds Tree Walk Recap

    This weekend, ten participants braved the downtown Race for the Cure crowds to come out to our Capitol Ground Tree Walk. Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C. led the Saturday morning walk.

    Melanie Choukas-Bradley shows the group how a leaf can help identify a tree

    The walk began at the Botanic Gardens and ended with a contest to guess the size of a large willow oak tree (Quercus phellos) on the Capitol lawn. Along the way, Melanie introduced over 15 trees around the Capitol grounds. A wide range of tree types were represented, including native trees such as the Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and non-native trees such as the Silver Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica). “D.C. is a great place to learn about non-native trees,” Melanie told the group. “You can travel to other places in the world and usually find a tree you’ll recognize.” 

    One of the tree walk’s highlights was a bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) near the corner of First Street Northwest and Maryland Ave Southwest. The tree is one of the oldest oaks in the District. It is also a citizen-nominated Tree of Note and can be seen on the Casey Trees Map.

    A view of the Capitol on the tree walk.

    Casey Trees' Urban Forestry Instructor Shawn Walker said the dedicated participants "could not get enough."  So even though the walk was scheduled to end at noon, the group decided to stick around for an extra two hours to learn more about the history of the trees, their fruits, and ways to identify them. Melanie pointed out that though tree guide books can help identify species, the differing leaves and bark can get confusing. The only way to really hone your identifying skills is by exploring trees with an expert. And what better way to do that than participate in a tree walk?

    Casey Trees' staff member Scott Brown inspects a shingle oak's budding acorns.
    View all the photos from this event on Flickr.
    You can sign up here for the next Tree Walk, which will take place on July 23 at Tudor Place. Don’t forget to check our summer tree classes as well! A full event calendar can be viewed here.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Friday Photo Feature - June 3, 2011

    Casey Trees headquarters at 3030 12th Street NE in Brookland.
    View more on Flickr or submit your own photos of trees.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    How to Water Your Trees This Summer

    A slow-release watering bag filled with water.
    You know to give your trees 25 gallons of water per week, but how do you get the water to them? Here are some tips for moving water to trees this summer.

    Transporting water:
    • Use a hose. If you have one of these connected to a water supply you're in great shape. Conquer any distance by attaching hoses together.
    • Get creative. Use old buckets or water cooler jugs to transport and pour water.
    • Carry water in a wheelbarrow or wagon. Hand-propelled vehicles lighten any load.
    • Use teamwork. If you work together, you can accomplish a lot more. Bring your friends or your family along to help you water trees.

    Delivering the water to the tree:
    • Install a slow-release watering bag (such as an Ooze Tube). Use bags that hold the recommended 25 gallons of water. Watering bags can be purchased at most home improvement, garden and nursery stores.
    • Use a funnel. Funnels effectively pour water into watering bags and reduce waste from spilling.
    • Turn a hose on a low trickle for half an hour. If you don't have a slow-release watering bag, set up your hose to run on a low setting. You can stick around or walk away, but remember to turn the water off after you are finished so that you don't waste water or over-water the tree.
    • Make your own slow-release watering device. Add holes to the bottom of a bucket and place at the base of a tree. You can fill it up and then walk away.

    Our watering tips in action.
    Remember to take care when watering trees, especially young ones. They will need 25 gallons of water per week on average, delivered slowly and carefully. Street trees in your neighborhood may also need water as they tend to not have much permeable ground nearby to gather water for their roots. It is the responsibility of residents to take care of watering street trees near their property.

    Ready to water your trees? Take the 25 to Stay Alive Pledge and receive a rain gauge to determine whether your trees are getting enough water. We send them free to anyone who signs the pledge and lives within 25 miles of Washington, D.C. Casey Trees announces the watering recommendation for the coming week every Monday morning to let you know how much watering is needed. If you need a quick update on the current watering conditions, visit our homepage (this week it is very hot, so your trees need the water!). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on tree watering and other news from Casey Trees.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Tree of the Month: Northern Red Oak

    Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st but it seems the weather didn’t get the memo. D.C. has been sunny and beautiful lately, but brutally hot. Heat advisories were issued last week when high temperatures far surpassed the average for May. And with forecasted temperatures in the nineties again this week, escaping the early summer heat may seem an impossible feat.

    Cue the northern red oak (Quercus rubra), our Tree of the Month for June. With dense leaf coverage and a typical height of almost 100 feet, the Northern red oak is one of the best shade trees D.C. has to offer on scorching afternoons.

    Photo credit: Nigel Cox.

    The northern red oak is native to the northeast region of the United States and southeast Canada. You can recognize the tree by its distinctive bark, leaves, and acorns. Mature trees have dark grey or brown bark with broad, shiny strips on the trunk’s ridges. Its leaves are lustrous dark green on both sides, with seven to eleven sharp lobes. The tree’s acorns are typically two to three centimeters long and have a reddish-brown cup on one end. Unlike the white oak, a red oak’s acorns stay on the tree through the winter.

    Pointy lobes and brownish-red stems and twigs of a northern red oak. Photo credit: Maggie.

    Red oak seedlings need to be planted in open areas, as they require a light intensity of about 30 percent to grow. Small sprouted trees should be given a planting space of at least 8.5 square meters. If you are interested in planting a northern red oak tree, don’t forget about our Tree Rebate Program! The red oak qualifies as one of our rebate program’s large shade trees likely to thrive in the District. You can find red oaks in a lot of places in D.C. including: McPherson Square, Cleveland Park, Dumbarton Oaks, Logan Circle and Woodland-Normanstone.

    Northern red oak facts:
    • Northern red oaks can thrive in forests and cities, as long as they have enough space. 
    • They have a fast growth rate of about 2 feet per year.
    • Northern red oaks’ acorns are a treat for many animals, including ruffed grouse, blue jays, wild turkeys, fox squirrels, bears, deer, and raccoons.
    • On rare occasions, the red oak can live to be 500 years old! More commonly, they tend to stay healthy for about 150 years.
    Red oak in November in Mount Pleasant.
    To find all the northern red oak trees Casey Trees has planted around DC, check out our Plantings Map and search for “oak, red” under the category Casey Trees’ Plantings. You can also find Northern red oak street trees on our DC Street Trees Map, or read a blog post that we wrote on a notable northern red oak last spring. As temperatures continue to climb, keep your eyes peeled for these wonderful shade trees. They can help you escape from the blistering heat but still enjoy the beautiful weather!