Tree Keepers Workshop with the NJ Tree Foundation

This past Saturday, May 7th the Jersey City Parks Coalition had the pleasure of co-hosting the NJ Tree Foundation #NJTF at Dickinson High School. The Foundation came to teach their Tree Keepers Workshop to Jersey City residents. It was a very informative day in school!

Tree identification was first up as we were given a guide book to take us through 10 simple questions of how to figure out what trees you might encounter on the streets. Noting leaf characteristics, bark color, fruit or flowers can all provide signs, to give you a page range, where you’ll find the tree variety. After a few visual drills everyone was feeling confident. Check done!

Have you ever walked down a neighborhood street and come across a tree that doesn’t look so hot? This workshop gives you the tools and know-how to assess a few physical things that might help you figure out what could be the root cause. (sorry for the pun)  Does it need pruning?  If so, where and why?  Is it a safety hazard?  Is it dead or dying?  Can it make a “come back”? — Let’s just say you’ll leave knowing a lot more than when you walked in the door.

One of the first and most common mistakes people make (contractors and self-proclaimed tree experts included) is in the planting. You don’t need a REALLY big hole. You don’t “have to” take the burlap off completely. Here’s what you do do…

Tree planting 1 Tree planting 2

These photo shows you a couple of basic planting tips : dig a hole no more than 1 foot wider then the root ball, plant ONLY as deep as the collar (The collar is where the trunk slopes out from the root system forming the trunk. Sometimes you have to dig down into the ball to expose it.)

“You aren’t planting telephone poles!” says Lisa Simms, the Executive Director of the NJ Tree Foundation.

Here’s a big one: remove the wire basket used for transport and/or twine before you plop it in the hole. Once in the hole…pull the burlap off of the top and tuck it in around the sides. Check for straightness on the first 3 feet from the ground. (According to NJTF the top will follow suit as it grows.) Next, shovel soil back in around the root ball (don’t put any soil on top) and really stomp the soil down in around the ball so there are zero air pockets (watering a bit can help). To finish: place a 3″ layer of mulch 6″ away from root collar, in a donut formation around the tree then WATER, WATER, WATER!  Trees need at least 2″ of water per week until the tree is established, about 2.5 years after planting. 

So, what was the biggest take away you ask?

The biggest take away from the workshop is how easy it is to plant a tree. It’s much harder to keep a tree healthy with water, proper pruning and maintenance. This is why the JCPC believes, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how many trees we plant in Jersey City over the next 5 or more years. What matters is how we care for them. Do we have the infrastructure in place to water and prune all the existing trees in our city today? No. Will we have everything we need for success within the next five years? Probably not. It’s taken cities, larger than ours, 20 plus years to combat apathy towards trees. We will need everyone’s help to create a culture of planting and caring for trees in Jersey City. As with most things in life it all comes down to education.

PS. If you are interested in attending a Tree Keepers workshop in the Fall please use the contact us form and ask to be put on a list. We hope to provide many more opportunities for residents and city staff to learn how to plant and care for the trees that help us breathe.

Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change with Dr. D. James Baker

130503_4pm_Baker Don’t miss our special talk with Dr. D. James Baker on May 14, 2016, at 1:00 PM at New Jersey City University School of Business. A focus of the talk will be on the role of landscapes in mitigating climate change. Dr. Baker has an extensive background in science and science administration, having served as president of the National Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and Under Secretary of Commerce in charge of NOAA in the Clinton Administration.  In his current position, Dr. Baker works with forestry programs in developing countries.  He was scientific advisor on Al Gores film An Inconvenient Truth, and he is a co-founder of The Oceanographic Society.  The author of Planet Earth: The View from Space, he has contributed to numerous scientific publications.  Admittance is free; a $5 donation is suggested. Funds in excess of expenses will be used for tree planting in Jersey City. For more information visit:

713789-250The Embankment Preservation Coalition and Jersey City Parks Coalition are organizers of the talk. The Embankment Coalition has worked since 1998 to raise environmental awareness in Jersey City, specifically through its advocacy for the energy-saving preservation and sustainable reuse of the historic Harsimus Branch Embankment and through related trail initiatives.

The Parks Coalition, the umbrella organization for neighborhood parks groups, is embarking on a five-year tree-planting program. Parks Coalition president Laura Skolar notes, One way to slow climate change is through reforestation. City of Trees is our modest local initiative to increase tree canopy in Jersey City. We hope to learn more about what we all can do here from Dr. Baker.

New Jersey University School of Business is hosting the talk.  Many nonprofit organizations, including the East Coast Greenway Alliance, Friends of Liberty State Park, Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, NY/NJ Baykeeper, and Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association, and others are contributors. Goldman Sachs is a Jersey City Parks Coalition City of Trees 2016 Education and Engagement Sponsor.