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Free Tree Distribution on Saturday

by Katie Pyzyk — October 10, 2012 at 9:45 am 3,867 75 Comments

The leaves may already be falling, but there’s an opportunity for you to green up your neighborhood this weekend. The county is giving away free trees to Arlington residents.

All of the trees, referred to as whips, are native to Virginia. They’re distributed in one, two or three gallon containers and typically range in height from two to four feet.

Representatives from the Arlington County Landscape staff and from TreeStewards will be on hand to offer planting guidelines and tree care tips. They can also explain characteristics of each tree species.

Distribution will take place from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Saturday (October 13) at the Arlington County nursery facility. It is located behind the baseball field at S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run. Parking is available in the lot in front of the field.

Each residential property is allotted one free tree; multi-family properties should email info@treestewards.org to obtain extra trees. Those interested in picking up a tree on Saturday should register online for a particular species. The spice bushes are sold out, but the remaining species are as follows:

  • American beech
  • American holly
  • Red oak
  • American basswood
  • Hophornbeam
  • Hornbeam
  • Sassafras
  • Persimmon

For questions, email Environmental Landscape Supervisor Patrick Wegeng at pwegeng@arlingtonva.us.

  • http://purple.com/purple.html Major Pup McPuppo

    dang… that is good stuff!!! plant some trees, y’all!!!

  • John Fontain

    In large part, this government program benefits high-income residents who can afford these trees without any government assistance. Rich people of Arlington: come get your government cheese this weekend.

    • Lauren

      Except that multi-family properties can also get trees. Not too many rich people live in multi-family properties.

      It really just benefits those who pay attention to what programs are offered at no or low cost and to those who don’t mind doing a little work by planting a tree or two.

      • John Fontain

        I didn’t say multi-family properties couldn’t get trees. I said this program, in large part, benefits high-income residents (i.e., government welfare going to the very people who don’t need it). Therefore, I don’t believe your assertion refutes mine.

        Why does this program almost exclusively benefit high-income residents? For the exact reason you mentioned – they are the ones surfing the internet and reading ARLnow to find out about these programs. The low income woman who lives in an apartment and rides the bus to work at McDonald’s most assurdedly won’t be in line to get a ‘free’ sassafras tree. She’s just trying to put food on the table and make sure she’s home to tuck her kids in at night.

        I’d love to know why a program like this shouldn’t be means tested.

        • WeiWeiQiang

          means testing = bureaucratic processes and infrastructure

          • John Fontain

            Nope, you just state on the application form: “Trees are available only for those with an income of $XX or below. Please bring a copy of your tax return for 2011 with a photo identification.” It would then take all of about 10 seconds to verify that someone qualified. And having this requirement would itself prevent most high-income folks from even bothering to try to scam the system. It wouldn’t be worth their time.

          • jackson

            All those rich scam artists, selling trees they don’t need on Tree-Bay…

          • WeiWeiQiang

            Bring a copy of your tax return … nice. Not onerous in the least.

          • John Fontain

            Yep, pulling open a file draw and grabbing a piece of paper is sooooooo onerous!

          • drax

            Not many people want to show their personal financial data to someone just to get a free tree.

            I can see them asking for a voluntary donation though.

          • Glebe Roader

            JF, you stated above that the “low income woman who lives in an apartment and rides the bus to work at McDonald’s most assurdedly (sic) won’t be in line to get a ‘free’ sassafras tree.” I’ll bet there is less of a chance she is in line if she has to provide a copy of her tax return.

          • John Fontain

            Fair enough.

          • Glebe Roader

            Thanks, JF.

          • Willard Romney

            The moocher probably doesn’t even pay income taxes and you want to give her a free tree?

          • YTK

            PLENTY of trees to go around. No one has to SCAM any system to get them.

        • drax

          Rich people won’t go get free trees because they don’t need them.
          Many poor people don’t have yards to plant them in.

          But yeah, this may go to wealthier people. What a great way to get them to do their part in using their property to improve the environment for all of us by planting and caring for trees.

          • dk (not DK)

            If I were rich, I wouldn’t be looking for free trees from the county. I’d be relying on the expertise of my first-rate landscape designer, the tireless labor of his/her employees, and the stock of whatever first-rate nursery my first-rate landscape designer recommended. Cha-ching!

        • YTK

          OH for goodness sake– just get your application in for a tree and be happy. The low income woman is also getting her free tree. Maybe she’ll celebrate her good fortune at Mikki D’s — who cares?

          • arlmimprov

            Agreed. The people J. Fontain despises generate a ton of tax renevue for the county. There wouldn’t be any money or people coming into Arlington if we all ‘kept it real’. The yuppies invest in the infrastructure and help keep crime rate down and schools good. If you have to throw them a free tree every now and then- so be it.

            At least the tree benefits everyone.

          • John Fontain

            I don’t despise high-income folks, I just think it’s a waste that the county is using our tax dollars to give high-income folks government cheese.

        • Lauren

          Yeah, you must be right. This program is only promoted on this website. High income people have it easy and have all the time in the world to surf the Internet looking for free tree programs for their huge yards and million dollar homes.

          • John Fontain

            The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Go take a look Saturday at the cars pulling in to pick up the ‘free’ trees. Then come back and tell me whether it looked like people with financial need were the ones taking the trees.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Many of us with little financial need have our weekend beater pickups for the home depot and free tree runs.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Fairlington and The Arlington condos are filled with county trees on the southside of the county. The trees are meant to fill the county with CO2 to O2 converting natural machines. Why would we want to limit them by means testing? And most of our McDonalds workers live outside of Arlington.

        • Maggie

          The low income woman living in multi-family housing won’t be eligible for a tree … the multifamily housing complex will be eligible.

          As to why …. Arlington is desperately trying to restore it’s tree cover. Many of our trees have reached or passed their life expectancy. People are having to remove trees. This is one way the county can assure that people will replace trees they remove.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Needed to be done starting fifty years ago…..

        • b0rk

          You don’t think our collective tax dollars should benefit everyone? Even if it’s someone that isn’t hovering around the poverty line?

    • drax

      Trees benefit us all.

      • CW

        If the intent is to benefit us all, then why can’t the County plant those trees in parks, medians, and other public spaces rather than giving them away to the few that can afford $1M+ houses with yards?

        • YTK

          Hey CW– I struggle to pay my monthly rent and my Arlington County trees are FLOURISHING on my balcony. My balcony IS my yard. and I am VERy proud of my free trees. You should smell how nice they make the air smell in the Spring– (in the summer, Fuggehdaboutit– the air stinks no matter where you are in Arlington.)

        • drax

          They do that too.

          But most of our land is private land. We need people to plant – and care for – trees on their private land too.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Due to the cost of labor, it is cheaper to distribute them to the general population to plant as they see fit. I have planted many in our neighborhood over the years. They are all doing well. I wish they had some more River Birch, they have done very well along Four Mile Run.

          • CW

            Now that sounds like an act that will benefit the community. I applaud you!

    • 350sbc

      Really? It’s a tree. Get over yourself.

    • j

      Troll much sparky?

    • Vincent

      These trees are just as free to people in affordable housing, son. If anything, this could be considered a redistribution of wealth, but it’s hardly favoring the rich.

      • John Fontain

        “These trees are just as free to people in affordable housing, son.”

        No one disputes that these trees are available to anyone regardless of income. My point, which was made very clear, is that the vast majority of participants gettting these ‘free’ trees are people who don’t have any financial need for them. They could easily go buy these whips themselves. It’s government welfare for the wealthy. Why do we need to use taxpayer money to fund what is, in effect, a welfare program for the wealthy? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on helping residents who actually need help?

        • arlmimprov

          …And these are the people that will plant them.

          Most of the affordable housing is in apartments as far as I know with nowhere to plant the trees.

          More trees benefit everyone on this planet. How did this become a political issue?

          • John Fontain

            No one is debating whether trees benefit the environment. The issue is whether the government should use our tax dollars to buy trees for people who clearly don’t need the assistance. Means test. Sell them at cost. Buy why use a poor person’s tax dollars to buy a rich person a tree?

          • drax

            This isn’t for people with the yards to plant trees, it’s for everyone.

            It’s just like when the county plants trees on public property, for everyone. This is one way to get people to plant them on private property too. Too many people cut down the big ones or they fall, and don’t replace them for whatever reason.

          • speonjosh

            Well said.

          • John Fontain

            Likewise, everyone benefits from the visual beauty of gorgeous landscapes. Even people who don’t own a property can walk down the street and appreciate the beauty of a handsome yard. So should the County pay for landscaping services on private property too? After all, even though the property owner gets the vast majority of the direct benefit, others get a small, incidental benefit too (just like with the ‘free’ trees).

          • drax

            Nice try, John, but trees are different because:

            - they take decades to grow to mature height
            - they are really cheap
            - they are about more than just enjoying scenery

            So I would support free trees, but not free landscaping. You?

        • jackson

          Maybe Arlington should hire an intern (from their red-light reading program) to search Google Streetview and mark treeless yards in lower-income neighborhoods so a hired crew can drive around in a county truck and offer trees to those needy folks. Or they could save more than the entire cost of the program and just keep doing it this way, since their satisfaction rate seems to be 95% (minus you).

          • John Fontain

            How does a satisfaction rate of 95% mean they are “saving more than the entire cost of the program”? Not following your logic.

          • jackson

            Not hiring someone to locate needy yards.

            Not hiring a work crew to hand-deliver trees to those with “need.”

        • Arlington, Northside

          Middle and Upper class are more likely to use the W&OD Trail for recreation and exercise, as the working poor do not have the free time for such activities, does that mean it dis-favors the poor when we fund it?

        • Pernilla von Mettenheiem

          Wow you sound bitter – why don’t you go buy some trees and enjoy your time planting them while you think abnout what you are doing for your children and the air quality and life quality for those benefiting (all of us!) from having trees around.

  • AH

    Persimmons can be grown in containers – possible solution for apartment dwellers. Might require a south- or west-facing window.

    Agreed, project could be cut to save taxpayer dollars. But in the people’s republic of Arlington, seems unlikely. To change policies, start a petition or talk to county council, etc. If that doesn’t work, the people have spoken.

    • drax

      This is a way of getting private property owners to grow, and care for, trees (to everyone’s benefit). Doesn’t sound very socialist to me.

    • http://purple.com/purple.html Major Pup McPuppo

      tell me more… about the first part.

      i’m planning on moving out of my apartment in april… i have a balcony now… would it be ok you think to keep the persimmon in the container until then? or would it grow too much?

      • YTK

        Major PMP — right now would be the best time to cut open the container, plant the tree without disturbing the roots, into a larger container– a Giant Food 10 or 11 gallon garbage pail ($6.99) with some clean rocks and sand at the bottom, and about 1 foor of dirt. Once the tree is in that container, fill around it with more dirt. Carefully cut some drainage holes at the bottom get a saucer at Ayers or Home Depot for water runoff, water regularly even thru the winter — and your tree will be grateful. See the post (above? below?) I wrote about Giant Food Lawn and Leaf bags.

      • Canine Rank

        When did you get promoted?

    • YTK

      AH– you are so right!! Trees can be grown on balconies as well– I had 4 maples I grew from seed on my balcony for about 10 yrs. Persimmons are a spindly tree – well suited, IMHO for balconies, and I would think that if they start to get too big on the balcony the owner can cut them back (Google How To Prune Persimmon trees — before chopping) — at the very worst what you will have are large Bonsai persimmons with edible fruit. COVER them in the winter — Giant Food lawn and leaf bags are great for this purpose — cut a hole on the NON Windy side of the tree so you can water them in the winter.

  • JimPB

    From morphing into McMansionville North Arlington:

    RE: who will benefit from the free to take paid for by taxpayers trees.

    Few if any of my neighbors with McMansions will get a tree. One — they don’t do yard work. Two — the available space for a tree would obstruct the front view of their McMansion.
    Few of those living in the ramblers will get a tree because many are seniors, and they recognize that when their property is sold, their rambler will be demolished and most of the yard will be churned up, so what’s the point of expending time and effort to plant a tree that will likely be removed in a matter of years.

    Would be interesting to know the addresses of those elsewhere in ArlCo who get a tree.

    Myself, I’d rather buy a fruit tree(s). All the benefits of a tree plus fresh, organic fruit. I’ve had apple, cherry and pear trees. Their yields were annual treats.

    • OldYeller

      I’ve gotten two gubmint trees over the past few years, one whip that’s just now approaching 10′ and one of the larger ones given out last fall. My street didn’t have any front yard trees on it until I put these in. I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten around to planting trees if the county hadn’t had this program in place. I’m thankful and hope others will take advantage of it.

      • YTK

        Every yard deserves the blessings of trees. My nabes once had a PEACH TREE in their front yard– they were so TASTY! (The peaches) Then they moved away and the new nabes CUT THE TREE DOWN!! The same thing happened with the other nabe with the huge fig tree– the new owners cut it down – those were MORTAL SINS!!!

        • speonjosh

          Maybe they were trying to spite you for calling them “nabes.”

          • YTK

            They nevah knew

          • speonjosh

            Now you’re just baiting me.

            You big meany.

    • dk (not DK)

      I personally tend to be in favor of government programs that encourage people to do the right thing. Planting trees is one of those things. Not to mention the fact that there are positive externalities for us all that trees provide–in other words, their value to the community as a whole may exceed the value to the individual who plants the tree. I am thrilled to read that Old Yeller took advantage of this program in a way that improved his entire block. Don’t forget that trees when they are grown and provide shade help reduce energy use and pollution for everyone.

      I would be first in line for a sour cherry tree. I’ve wanted to plant one for a while, but other priorities have to come first in my budget and time. However, if someone were giving cherry trees away, I’d make the time.

    • Arlington, Northside

      There is an entire block of late-1990s fill in McMansions in Clarendon that has rows of county trees as rear and side borders. It is a great program, little costs and big pay out for home owners(the county’s largest tax pool of tax payers) and residents.

  • Roycroft

    I have a Willow Oak that I picked up from the county 10+ years ago. I remember walking home with this from Courthouse in my hands. It was at most 2 feet tall. Today that tree is over 30 feet tall and is providing great shade for the yard while also producing oxygen for all to enjoy, stopping water runoff, cleaning the air and working as a carbon sink. Yes, I am getting benefits from this free tree but so is everyone.

  • YTK

    I gots myself a tree reserved for me!! And I have no other away to get it home except by… taada- METROBUS!! Wish me luck!! IF they throw me off the bus I will catch the one behind it and if they throw me off THAT bus I will catch the one behind THAT bus and so on — eventually I will get home.

  • YTK

    All the trees I have gotten from this program in the past years have FLOURISHED! Thank you Arlington County.

    I SO CANNOT believe I am actually complimenting Arlington County — but in this case they dun good.

  • soarlslacker

    Hey. There are renters of a single family home on my street who will go get a tree and plant it in their yard. The owners had to go back their home country due to the bad economy. I’d perfer that the neighbor’s yards look nice. Every one in this county is not wealthy and can’t afford to go out to Merrifield Garden Center and buy trees.

    • Arlington, Northside

      The County trees have done better for me than the Merrifield and Meadows trees.

      • WeiWeiQiang

        /\ true dis /\

  • JA

    These trees are small, and cost less than $10 a piece.

    • dk (not DK)

      I think this program also reduces the paradox of choice problem, wherein you go to the nursery and see 50 different types of trees and have no idea what the heck to buy. People appreciate being told which trees are native and so are likely to do well here. It’s not a big thing, but when you add up the inconveniences (research time, driving time, shopping time, paying for the tree–likely more per unit than the county pays–getting it home, digging the hole, figuring out how to take care of it), the little things can sometimes make or break the transaction. There might be many times we stand in our yard and think: a tree would be nice in that spot; but then we think of what we don’t know about trees, and the other hassles involved in getting one, and so no tree ever gets planted.

      The county is taking a few of the downsides out of the decision-making process. More people may therefore decide to acquire and purchase a tree.

      • drax

        That’s one benefit of natives in general – easier choices.

        Plus they require much less care. They’re adapted to live here after all.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Far less than $10 a piece. They are grown from seeds in the county green house or just on the land in recycled/donated containers. It costs us the price of the water.

  • Sunshine

    I got a Serviceberry and an American Hazelnut from this program several years ago. Both are over 15 feet tall now and thriving. I have made Serviceberry pancakes (yum), plus the birds get some berries too. This year was the first year that I got a substantial amount of hazelnuts. We cracked them open and ate them. They were delish. Plus, the squirrels got some too. We had lost some trees to storms over the past five years and I was very appreciative of this program. The trees offered are native to our area and I most likely would not have known to choose these trees if I had gone to a nursery. The trees we chose have provided some food for us and for wildlife in our yard. I have chosen a Holly this year. I have the perfect spot for it. I hope it will grow to be a part of a living wall along the side of our yard that is on a busy street and that it will provide shelter for birds.

    • DCBuff

      Pancakes? Free trees=pancakes? Did IHOP hear about this? Another attempt by the commies running ArlCo to drive the IHOP out of Ballston. Dilemma. Do I take my free tree while running the risk of being responsible for driving IHOP out of ArlCo?

      • drax

        When IHOP starts offering serviceberry pancakes, sure.

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