Celebrating Trees: A Creation Care Resource
This fall, Plant NOVA Natives/Plant NOVA Trees is launching a multi-year campaign to plant and preserve native trees in Northern Virginia in order to increase and protect our life-giving tree canopy. The Department of Environmental Quality is asking Northern Virginia to plant 600,000 trees by 2025.
Here’s how you can help. According to Alexandria City arborist John Marlin, our church and property-owning parishioners and friends can have a substantial impact on this effort to increase tree canopy. Since most available land in Northern Virginia is private property, we won’t meet the goal without planting thousands of new trees in our neighborhoods and in our own private spaces. We CAN make a difference!
Benefits of Trees
Did you know that trees sequester carbon, making them crucial partners in reducing our carbon emissions? They help purify the air!
Other benefits include:
It’s fun to see the National Tree Benefit Calculator. It’s a simple estimation of the benefits individual street trees provide. Check it out at http://www.treebenefits.com/calculator/index.cfm
Tree Planting Recommendations
Plant native trees. A tree is native to our environment if it evolved within the local food web and has the intricate relationships with animals and other plants that this implies.
https://www.plantnovanatives.org/ and https://www.plantnovatrees.org/
Plant large, shade trees where practical as they provide exponentially greater benefits than smaller ornamental trees. (Shade trees are the medium to large trees in our region such as oak trees.)
Plant a diverse mix of trees to ensure that no single invasive pest or disease can destroy your entire planting.
Diversity also means that instead of just planting 5 different oaks, consider planting one oak, one maple, one elm, one hackberry, etc.
The Alexandria City Arborist encourages us to support or plant some of the less common species, such as blackgum. A recommended list of trees to consider in the City is attached.
Where to Buy the Right Tree
A great resource for choosing native plants of all types for landscapes is
Several small nurseries grow more obscure native plants and could probably make some recommendations as well:
Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria are Northern Virginia volunteers who take the lead to enhance a sustainable urban forest through volunteer activities and public education programs.
Volunteer activities include:
How to Plant a Tree
Select the right tree for your location. Check that it will fit your site when it grows, and remember that roots grow and spread as well.
Don’t add “better” soil. Native trees prefer local soils.
Dig a hole twice the diameter of the roots. Spread the young tree’s roots and place it in the hole so the root crown is level with the surface. Add the soil back to the hole, a little at a time, watering as you go to settle the soil around the roots.
Mulch lightly to control weeds, but don’t pile mulch up to the tree trunk. Leave a gap between trunk and the mulch.
During its first year, make sure the tree gets water regularly.
Fall is the best time to plant most trees, because fall is when most root growth happens.
Young trees may need protection from deer.
Plant small - it takes one year per inch caliper for trees to establish and they will need watering that entire time. Smaller trees also transplant better.
After getting established in their first year, native trees require little or no care, because they are perfectly adapted to local conditions. More details about native tree planting and maintenance can be found here: https://www.plantnovanatives.org/native-trees
The Celebrating Trees Resource Guide was gathered by Immanuel’s Creation Care Action Team in support of the Episcopal Church’s Covenant to care for God’s Creation. If you would like more information about Creation Care activities at Immanuel Church, please contact Denise Freeland at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Glassco at email@example.com.
A Poem: Advice From A Tree
By Ilan Shamir
English Spanish Gujarati Hindi
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!
(When you plant a tree, you’ll grow a friend, a friend you’ll have for life!)
Recent Books on the Importance of Trees in Our Yards and Communities
The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees
by Douglas W. Tallamy
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard
by Douglas W. Tallamy
The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden
by Richard Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy