Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Expectant Tree Yard

Here at Casey Trees, there's little that tickles our fancy more than an empty tree yard waiting for it's first delivery of the season.

Between tomorrow and mid-April, 652 trees will come through our tree yard before being planted all over the District. The trees will be planted in Community Tree Plantings or as RiverSmart Homes in neighborhoods, schools and parks in every single ward.

Will you be planting any of these trees? Help us bring a little green to our communities and get to know your neighbors by signing up for a Community Tree Planting event today.

Last Chance to Vote for Casey Trees!

Tomorrow is your last chance to vote for Casey Trees as the Best Place to Volunteer and the Best Non-Profit in Washington City Paper's 2012 Readers' Poll. If you haven't voted yet, there's no better time than right now! Go ahead — we'll wait.

Great! Now that you've voted, pass the message along to friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, and make sure to tell them to vote by 11:59 p.m. EDT tomorrow.

Remember, your vote spreads the word about all the work that we do here at Casey Trees planting trees around the District and educating the public on just how important our tree canopy is.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Casey Trees, GW Contributes to ABA's One Million Trees Campaign

On Friday, February 24th, students from the George Washington Law School’s Environmental Law Association (ELA) partnered with Casey Trees to plant 23 trees on GW’s Foggy Bottom campus. This is the first time that the GW ELA has contributed to the One Million Trees Project, a nationwide effort led by the American Bar Association to plant one million trees across the United States by 2014, aiming to educate citizens about the benefits of trees and their role in helping to fight climate change. 

Begun in March 2009, the One Million Trees Project has already planted 11,718 trees across the country with the help of lawyers and students. On Friday, 25 students and volunteers braved the afternoon rain to plant Zelkovas, Chinese elms and Willow oaks along the streets of the Foggy Bottom campus. GW’s Grounds Department also contributed to the effort by helping the students dig, plant and stake the trees.

This planting event was funded by the GW Streetscape Grant which is working to making GW’s campus more sustainable and increase its tree canopy. Through the grant, Casey Trees has partnered with GW to consult on campus development projects, analyze GW’s tree canopy and advocate for more trees on its campus. Future projects include reaching out to stakeholders regarding low-impact development.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What It Could Be: 2100 MLK Ave. SE

The streetscapes of D.C. could bring beauty and benefits to our neighborhoods if only their potential was realized. The Planning & Design department looks at some of the rough patches and then demonstrates “What It Could Be” if it incorporated bioretention that promoted the growth of large shade trees. The most recent stretch of street to get a digital makeover is 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE. 

The drawings shows two different streetscapes, the current one on above and the imagined one below. Notice the before design constrains roots whereas the after design gives larger trees more space for their roots, in turn preserving the sidewalk, encouraging growth and making streets biodiverse.

The extra soil space allows for stormwater capture, which removes pollution and helps prevent dirty water from entering our waterways. In many street boxes in the District, like those in the photograph on the left, additional vegetation impedes on a tree’s root growth and sends polluted water to the river through the sewer system.

“What It Could Be” is a new recurring feature in our e-newsletter, The Leaflet. Subscribe to The Leaflet to catch stories like this one and more.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spotlight: Jim Sherald brings years of horticultural expertise to Board of Directors

When Jim Sherald retired in 2010 from the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), he knew he wanted to stay in the horticulture field, even if it was in a different capacity.

Enter Casey Trees, which Sherald worked with in the early days of the organization’s history as an advisory board member. Last year, Sherald became a member of the Board of Directors.

“Joining Casey Trees again was an opportunity to remain in the field and share my experiences from NPS with an organization I thought very highly of,” he said.

Sherald was instrumental in getting the 2002 D.C. street tree inventory completed and in his second stint with Casey Trees, he is glad to help plan for the future.

“The current focus is to stay the course and build on our D.C. programs,” he said. “In the long term, as places become more urbanized, we have to make areas sustainable and hospitable. It’s important for Casey Trees and D.C. to be a model.”

Trees — American elms in particular — are Sherald’s first love, one he gladly shares with Casey Trees. But the aspect of Casey Trees that he finds most important is citizen engagement.

“Casey Trees effectively engages citizens in understanding the value of the urban forest,” he said, “and Casey Trees’ educational tools help residents turn knowledge into active participation in restoring the tree canopy.”

Sherald participated in his first Community Tree Planting event last December at the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland. He was inspired by how many volunteers showed up and how enthusiastic they were to plant trees.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to gather with people of like mind and like interest,” he said. “It’s like a party. If you have a real — or even moderate — passion for trees, it’s for you.”

When he speaks with people about his involvement with Casey Trees, Sherald talks about how well the organization has been brought people together.

“Every person who volunteers will share the same experience and share it with neighbors.”

This Board of Directors Spotlight was featured in the February issue of our e-newsletter, The Leaflet. Read more stories from The Leaflet and sign up to updates from Casey Trees.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What an Animal!

A new batch of tree planters will be earning their Citizen Forester stripes with our first event of the Community Tree Planting (CTP) spring season, a Tree Planting Workshop at the National Zoo on March 3.

All the tree planting basics will be covered, including selecting and preparing a tree planting site, choosing the appropriate species and maintaining tree health in an urban environment. After lunch we’ll be putting our new skills to the test, planting 30 trees near the seal habitat.

Sign up online for this Tree Planting Workshop event.

A class and planting like these are the first step toward becoming a Citizen Forester, but we ask students to volunteer for two more CTP events throughout the season to become Citizen Tree Planters.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Exploring My Roots with Casey Trees

Contributing writer Reed Young, Tree Planting High School Intern

Every February, my school suspends classes and every student goes into the world and completes a two-week internship. My goal for my internships has been to develop a better understanding of my city. For the past couple years, I have worked in the D.C. public schools, but this year I decided to take a different path by working at Casey Trees. 

I've grown up in Washington, D.C., and one great thing about being raised here is that the city presents so much. In D.C., you can find places that make you feel like you're in a big city, and you can find other places that make you feel like you're in a small town. D.C. also offers opportunities to enjoy nature in Rock Creek Park, on the shores of the Potomac River, and in smaller recreational parks located throughout the city. I'm fortunate to have had Casey Trees give me the chance to take time to explore my roots and the significance of my city. 

Reed Young at Casey Trees headquarters.

The people that I worked with at Casey Trees are all quality people — the kind of people I would pick to be in a super hero movie to save our city's trees. Every day, I go out with the Tree Planting Crew and do something exciting that requires hard work but in the end is rewarding. In the past two weeks, I've pruned lots of American Elms, assisted planting Trees for Georgetown, selected trees at a nursery to be placed in the city, and attended multiple classes, including one called Stand Up for Trees. These experiences have taken me all across the city to various communities. 

Working at Casey Trees, I've also learned how a good non-profit is run. I am interested in potentially working in the non-profit field, so it has been a valuable experience to be around Casey Trees and see how the organization works. Although there are many different departments at Casey Trees, everyone who works there finds time to come together. This week on Valentine's Day, the staff held a Chili Cook-Off and celebrated everyone's hard work (the vegetarian chili was really good!). This experience and a handful of others has shown me the importance of building community within an organization so that everyone is recognized and has fun doing such great work. 

Overall, I have had a great experience at Casey Trees as a part of a team that's improving life in our city.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Buds of Spring

Dust off those planting gloves — the spring Community Tree Planting season is upon us! We are breaking records again this season, planting 726 trees at 46 planting events across all eight wards during what is turning out to be a very exciting spring.

It’s going to be a delicious season — 235 of the trees being planted are fruit or nut trees going into schools or community gardens. We will be planting pear, fig, apple, persimmon and pawpaw trees, and to gear up for that we’ll be hosting an online chat called “Bearing Fruit: Planting Urban Orchards.” Mark your calendar for March 8 at noon to sign on and join the conversation.

Spring will bring the budding of partnerships new and old, as we will be helping Bread for the City plant an orchard on University of District Columbia-owned land, and we will again be teaming up with the National Cherry Blossom Festival to plant cherry trees around the District.

Find information on all of our plantings on our calendar of events, where you can also sign up to attend the events. Our first planting event will be March 3 at the National Zoo.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Photo Feature: Feburary 17, 2012

A pleasant winter in Brookland.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mayor Gray Issues Proclamation Congratulating Casey Trees on 10 Years of Service to D.C.

Ten years ago today, Casey Trees opened its doors with a clear mission - restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of the nation's capital. Together we have planted more than 10,000 trees across the District, educated thousands of adults and youth alike, tracked the health and condition of trees and worked with elected officials, designers and builders to protect existing trees and create spaces to sustain large healthy trees.

Become a Tree Champion today and we can do more. Tree Champions provide Casey Trees with a reliable stream of financial support that enables us to make our trees through our Community Tree Planting program available free of charge to worthy groups and institutions.

For a limited time, our friends at Bare Tree Apparel are thanking individuals like you who become a Tree Champion at the $25 a month level by sending them a hand printed "Plant a Tree" tote. Take satisfaction in knowing that over the course of a year, your monthly gift will sponsor the planting of a single tree and that you will be planting the seed of environmentalism in the mind of every person that sees you carrying your tote.

Pledge to be a Tree Champion today. Hurry, only the first 50 new Tree Champions are eligible to receive a "Plant a Tree" tote.

Today, Casey Trees Turns Ten!

Cue the eco-friendly confetti drop. Hug a loved one. Give your pet an extra treat. It’s time to celebrate.

Our friends at Bare Tree Apparel are marking this milestone by offering a very special gift – a hand printed, limited-edition tote bag - to our friends who become Tree Champions by May 1.

Made from recycled cotton, this eco-friendly tote is perfect for trips to the farmer’s market, library, or a stroll around town and it conveys what we and you consider important – adding trees across D.C. And you will be doing just that when you sign up to be a Tree Champion.

Tree Champions are among our most loyal and dedicated supporters. Their monthly gift of $25 or more – just 82 cents a day – provides us with steady, reliable support to continue providing trees and educational programming at no cost to schools, public parks, recreation centers and other deserving institutions.

When you give monthly, you'll join a community of supporters working tirelessly to forge a green legacy in our nation’s capital for future generations to enjoy. 

Hurry! This gift offer is limited to the first 50 new Tree Champions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tune in for Tree Talk Thursday Tomorrow!

Don't forget that we're having another Tree Talk Thursday tomorrow from noon until 1 p.m. We will be discussing treescaping and how to design and build with trees in mind, so start thinking about your questions today.

Our hosts this month are Casey Trees' Director of Planting and Design, Maisie Hughes, and guest host Meredith Upchurch, landscape architect with the District Department of Transportation. They will have plenty of answers for your treescaping questions in the hour-long interactive chat.

The chat will be on our website tomorrow at noon, so grab your lunch and join us for an informative hour. If you're afraid you might forget, enter your email address on the page and we'll invite you to the chat when it begins. You can also submit questions ahead of time by emailing us at or tweeting us at @CaseyTrees.

Have you missed out on past Tree Talk Thursdays? Past chats are archived online on a variety of topics from the Emerald Ash Borer quarantine to choosing an arborist.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An Unseasonably Warm Pruning Winter

Contributing writer - Jabbari Brew, Tree Planting Crew

Pruned branches at Casey Trees headquarters.

The first month of the new year is behind us. The field crew's work in January focused on American elms - both planting and pruning. So far we have pruned trees all over the District, along corridors like Massachusetts Avenue, Piney Branch Parkway, East Capitol Street and Nebraska Avenue. We have touched 300 trees in some way, whether it was removing dead or broken branches, structurally pruning, or raising the crown. Pruning trees in the winter is the best practice, as the trees are dormant and the risk of pest problems associated with pruning cuts are minimized, plus the tree has all of the growing season ahead to compartmentalize the wounds. Also the tree is naked in the winter, so it is a lot easier to see the structure of the tree.

At the beginning of January, I fretted about pruning in the cold winter. The thought of climbing up a six-foot ladder to reach a couple of branches in freezing temperatures gave me the shivers. But to my surprise, it has been a pretty warm pruning season. The average temperature on a working day in January was 49 degrees Fahrenheit, and the last day of the month was 65 degrees. It was so warm it felt like we should have been planting trees - not pruning. The warm weather has made pruning more enjoyable. I spent more time with the tree, finding defects to fix and enhancing the structure of the tree, instead of hustling to get back in the warm truck.

Our pruning work focuses on establishing good tree structure and reducing the risk of failures from, for example, co-dominant stems, which are very common in elm trees. Structural pruning is beneficial for several reasons: it helps the tree establish a strong leader, enhances the tree's appearance and form, and influences the ultimate size of branches.

In the field it is fairly easy to judge what works needs to be done in a tree. We like to say, "hit 'em up, hit 'em hard," when the trees are young. Structural pruning is easier on younger, established trees because it is easier to reach the limbs from a ladder and make the cuts. More importantly, the size of the wounds from the cuts will be smaller, and the tree will be able to seal those wounds quicker. For trees that aren't established (trees that have been in the ground for less than two years), we only inspect for damaged or broken branches. On older trees our work is limited to how high we can safely reach with our tools from the ladder. Also with larger limbs, sometimes greater than five inches in diameter, the work becomes more dangerous to both the crew and the tree.

Jabbari pruning a young American elm last winter.

Warm weather has made this pruning season really enjoyable, but it may cut our work short. There's a saying that "pruning is a double-edged sword" - a double-edged saw, I would rather say. Pruning a tree can help or hurt a tree depending on where, when and how the cuts are made. Over the next few days and week we will be carefully observing whether buds are beginning to swell and break. We don't want to prune during bud break or when the leaves are flushing out. I don't know if six more weeks of winter are in store, but the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow today, so maybe I will still get some of that dreadful cold winter weather. Fingers crossed.

Punxsutawny Phil Strikes Again

Everyone's favorite groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter this morning, but spring planting for Casey Trees still starts March 3 at the National Zoo with our free Tree Planting Workshop. Advance registration is required; space is limited. All other spring Community Tree Planting events will be made available to volunteers starting next week.

Did you know? A groundhog and a woodchuck are the same thing, and the name woodchuck has absolutely nothing to do with wood or chucking, but is actually a mangled version of the Native American name, otchek.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tree of the Month: Deodar Cedar

Winter is officially upon us, bringing the cold, snow, and barren deciduous trees. Thankfully, tree lovers can take time to appreciate evergreen trees like the deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara), our February Tree of the Month. While the tree's natural habitat is in the Himalayan Mountains from Afghanistan to Nepal, it has become a popular ornamental tree in the United States. Woody plant expert and horticulturist Michael Dirr calls the deodar "the most graceful cedar" for good reason. The tree is desired for its tall silhouette and gently drooping branches.

The full canopies of deodar cedars in a forest.
Photo credit: draconianrain

The sanskrit root-word for "deodar" roughly translates to "wood of the Gods." An apt name for a tree that can grow up to 250 feet in its natural habitat. These heights are not reached by their ornamental kin in the U.S. Expect to see deodars closer to 70 feet with a maximum spread of 40 feet. Most deodars have a strong pyramid shaped canopy, although some older trees can take on a flat-topped and wide-spread appearance.

The evergreen leaves of the deodar are needles of 1-2 inches in length and are green or silver green in appearance. The needles droop gently from the tree, giving them their signature appearance. The cones of the Deodar stand upright and are barrel or egg shaped. The cones measure approximately 3-4 inches long and take 2-3 years to develop as they turn from blue to reddish-brown.

The cone of a deodar cedar.
Photo credit: arthur_chapman
Some additional facts about the deodar cedar:
  • The tree grows quickly and has a dense canopy, making it ideal for natural wind breaks.
  • The deodar's wood is desirable as a building material because of its ability to resist rot, durability, and fine grain.
  • The tree's canopy makes an excellent home for smaller animals including birds because of its density
Deodar cedars are common throughout the District. Those wishing to see the trees in public settings can find them at Dumbarton Oaks, the National Arboretum, the National Zoo, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and on the White House grounds.