Maintaining Our Tree Canopy: Ways You Can Help

A beautiful Quercus Alba (White Oak) at the Sunny Demonstration garden. Photo © 2014Elaine Mills

A beautiful Quercus Alba (White Oak) at the Sunny Demonstration garden.
Photo © 2014 Elaine Mills

Both Alexandria and Arlington support the idea of maintaining and increasing the tree canopy of our highly urbanized area, and offer residents assistance through either free or reduced rate young tree. While fall is an ideal time to plant trees, our local governments offer trees sales or deliveries in spring as well. One such program in Arlington requires application by January 7, so we are offering information to help you plan.

To help you choose trees for your properties for spring planting, we offer some information on how to choose the right tree for the right site. Among the primary considerations are height and spread at maturity as well as growth rate and how those factors relate to available space, as well as the tree’s water, light, and soil requirements. For those who choose to plant new trees themselves, we include information on how to plant them correctly.

Choosing the Right Tree

First, for help with choosing the correct tree(s), here are some links for species that tend to survive well in our climate conditions and urban areas in general and that also address the specific size and site where the tree will be planted:

Here are some links to native trees that do well in our area:

  • Native Trees – Plant NOVA Natives
  • Trees: MGNV Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

How to Plant Trees

Graphic from Texas A&M:
Trees do not need need mulching that goes vertical (up), they prefer mulch that goes horizontal (out). 3-4 inches of mulch is the recommended depth. Keep mulch off the trunk. No mulch volcanoes!

For those who seek guidance in how to plant a tree, the following links will offer information, including illustrations, on how best to plant.

Local Government Tree Grants/Sales

Arlington County is offering grants to plant or maintain trees on private property. Those interested in applying for a grant should apply by January 7, 2019. 

The City of Alexandria offers two plant sales a year (spring and fall) that sell young trees at greatly reduced rates to residents desiring to help improve tree canopy on their own lots.  This page still has information about the fall 2018 sale but will be updated in the spring.

Winter is a good time to read up on your choices and make plans for spring planting. We wish you happy planning.

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