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Volunteers plant street trees in Silver Spring neighborhood

Volunteers planted a dozen trees in the Montgomery Hills neighborhood of Silver Spring Saturday morning. Nonprofits Casey Trees and Conservation Montgomery organized the community tree planting.

Volunteers set a new tree upright. All photos by the author.

Based in Brookland in the District, Casey Trees was founded 10 years ago to help restore the city's dwindling tree canopy. Since then, they've planted over 10,000 trees in DC. For Saturday's tree planting, Casey Trees' first project in Montgomery County, they teamed up with Conservation Montgomery, an environmental group advocating for a range of issues from tree-lined streets to watershed protection. The same day, they held another planting in conjunction with energy company Clean Currents at the Blairs in downtown Silver Spring.

About 20 volunteers from around the region came out to plant a mix of swamp white oak, sweetgum and redbud trees along Seminary Road, Columbia Boulevard, and in Public Parking Lot 12, located at the corner of the two streets. Volunteers were given a demonstration on tool safety and planting before setting out with saplings and shovels.

Casey Trees Volunteer Planting, Columbia Boulevard
Newly-planted trees along Columbia Boulevard.

Conservation Montgomery drew up plans for where each tree would go, working with a county arborist to avoid underground utilities, overhead wires and other barriers. They also consulted with neighbors. "We moved one [proposed] tree because it would create too much shade in one gentleman's garden," said Arlene Bruhn, who sits on Conservation Montgomery's board of directors.

Jim Woodworth, director of tree planting for Casey Trees, noted the "traffic calming benefits" of street trees, which will not only look good and provide shade but encourage drivers to slow down. The planting site is less than half a mile from the Georgia Avenue/Capital Beltway interchange, one of the state's busiest intersections. Studies also show that one street tree can result in over $90,000 in direct benefits, ranging from increased property values to less air pollution.

Visiting Casey Trees and Conservation Montgomery's tree planting in Montgomery Hills reminded me of a tree I planted myself a few blocks away. As a first-grader on the Woodlin Elementary School student council, I participated in the planting of this tree on the school grounds in 1993. I was surprised to find it's still there, though it could probably use a little pruning, as it's gotten very scraggly.

Tree I Planted in 1993 . . .?
I helped plant this tree almost 20 years ago.

Casey Trees will hold additional community tree plantings through December, though there aren't any more scheduled in Montgomery County. You can learn more about them and their volunteer opportunities by visiting their website. You can also visit Conservation Montgomery's website to learn more about their organization as well.

Dan Reed is an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard. He writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own. 


It's nice to be able to read a feel good story like this every now and then!

by Gull on Nov 5, 2012 3:00 pm • linkreport

One question I had - why were you surprised the tree was still there? [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

What I have to say on tree planting is so predictable I'm almost sick of saying it (nearly). These stories are what I call 'starting line stories.' We never seem to get past them. Where is the conversation with the director of maintenance or watering or pruning? These things are just as important if not more so than tree planting. When you don't prune the tree after it is newly established, then you've lost so much, and possibly wasted the investment you made in the tree to begin with - ie, thrown money down the drain. Without pruning, you encourage a tree architecture that is less wind-resistant and more prone to disease. This happens all over the city, but because we don't have reporters with knowledge of this kind of thing, residents don't know about it. Planting (starting line) is all they know about. When trees finally do get pruned, it's sometimes too late, they seem to get overpruned, and can't withstand a strong wind. There's an art and a science to it, but we have suffered and lost a lot of people with knowledge and dedication. It takes patience, dedication and intelligence to learn how to take care of a tree.

I'm less sure about sweet gum, but redbuds are ornamentals at best, a perennial favorite of friends groups with extremely limited knowledge of trees. The trees are fine, as long as you are under no illusions about the amount of shade they are going to provide. Also, after their bloom, they look and are quite raggedy.

With extended periods of drought, followed by downpours and high winds, the need for demonstrated, tested knowledge of big trees is greater than ever.

Our tree groups may be filled with earnest people, but they are led by no one (that I can tell) with much deep, proven knowledge.

by Jazzy on Nov 5, 2012 5:03 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Jazzy on Nov 5, 2012 5:38 pm • linkreport

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