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June 2022 Update

Short article to share

Please see this month’s article on free (or low priced) trees for communities at the bottom of this page and share it in newsletters and social media.

The 4th edition is almost here! Native Plants for Northern Virginia

The shipment of 5000 copies is expected this Wednesday. You can download the Guide for free from our website or see this page for purchasing information for print copies. If you need 10 or more, we are ready to take your order now for you to pick up. For 1-9 copies, you can order them online or pick them up at various locations (though it will take us a few days to restock, so please call first). Our updated version has an expanded section on trees as well as a few additional plant species.

More garden center volunteers needed

Three more garden centers have invited us this year to label their native plants with red stickers and hang tags. We are immensely grateful to the volunteers who have been doing this job and need even more people to pitch in! It is pleasant work that you can do on your own time, once or twice a month during the growing season. Email if you can help. The only qualification you need is the patience to use our lists to carefully check the origin of plants.

Get ready for Celebrate Native Trees Week - September 26-October 2

Garden centers around Northern Virginia will be promoting native trees and shrubs that week, and we will be promoting their promotions. Would you like to add to the festivities by putting on a native tree/shrub event that week or by doing a promotion of native tree-related services? Email so we can include it on our calendar.

Can you be our tree campaign liaison to your local elected officials?

As the regional native tree campaign continues, we would like to keep our elected officials informed, and we would also like to publicize the various efforts they are making. Can you volunteer to be the contact person for your Supervisor, Mayor, etc? Email

Our tree rescue goal was too low!

A couple months ago, we increased our goal for trees rescued from 2000 to 4000 by the end of 2022. Thanks to a tremendous surge in volunteerism, we have already received 150 reports of over 3000 trees rescued. Our new goal is 6000 rescued trees, and we think you can do it! Particularly inspiring is the work of Joan Schiller, who has personally rescued 185 trees from non-native invasive vines. Add your report here.

Report your native tree and shrub plantings

Please help Virginia meet its tree-planting obligations by reporting your tree and shrub plantings here.

Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Thursday, July 28, 10:00am-12:00pm. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings.

This month’s newsletter article to share – Please use this link for social media.

Free Trees for Communities

As community associations around Northern Virginia ramp up their native tree planting efforts, they are looking around to find ways to make it affordable. Burke Centre resident Craig Willett has solved that problem for his neighbors: all they have to do is fill out a simple form to get a free tree. A member of Burke Centre Conservancy’s volunteer Open Space Committee, Craig has organized a system both for private property and for common land. On private land, residents pick up seedlings from Craig’s house and plant them themselves. On common land, the Trustees of the various clusters put in a request, and Craig and his colleagues will install trees or shrubs either to replace ones that have died or to reforest open areas. You can see him pictured here with fellow volunteer Mike Hathaway, in red.

Tree grow slowly, and they also die slowly. Many neighborhoods around Northern Virginia have been losing their canopy coverage, bit by bit, so that once pleasantly shaded yards and streets where neighbors and children could gather are gradually becoming intolerable as our summer temperatures rise. Communities that wish to reverse this trend are most likely to succeed if they build a long-term routine for tree care and tree replacement into their master plans. Where there is no community association, residents will need to step forward to help each other make a plan.

Burke Centre Conservancy obtains its tree seedlings from Fairfax ReLeaf, a non-profit organization of volunteers who plant and preserve native trees on public and common lands in Northern Virginia. Individual landowners may also request seedlings from Fairfax ReLeaf.

Any community in Fairfax County that owns open space may also apply for free trees from the Fairfax Tree Preservation and Planting Fund. It is not necessary to be a 501(c)3 organization to apply as long as the open space is commonly owned. This is a solid funding source for organizations that want to plant either seedlings or larger trees. The application process looks a little intimidating at first glance because of the long list of requirements, but in fact the required steps are all ones that any organization would take anyway when planting trees.

Programs for obtaining free native trees are also available to communities in Arlington and Falls Church. And although not free, there are numerous ways to obtain native trees for a very low price. For example, the Virginia Department of Forestry sells tree and shrub seedlings for $2.00 apiece for orders of ten or more. Our local native plant garden centers all sell medium-sized trees in containers at reasonable prices. Those trees may look a little small when first planted, but they will rapidly catch up to trees that were planted when larger, since older trees suffer more transplant shock. Two wholesalers of larger trees offer their trees at wholesale cost to people who are organizing community plantings. Links to all these programs can be found on the Plant NOVA Trees website.

Since 2018, Burke Centre Conservancy has planted over 600 bare root seedlings, which is in keeping with the nature-centered philosophy of this community with its extensive network of trails through the woods. More details about their process can be found on this web page.


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