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Urban Forestry

Takoma Park places special value and pride in its robust urban forest canopy.   The City’s Urban Forestry program seeks to preserve and improve its urban forest canopy through tree planting, tree care, private property regulation, education, and more.  Read on to learn about permit requirements, hiring tree care professionals, tree care best practices, and other useful tree knowledge.

Urban Forestry Updates:

Arbor Day

Arbor Day is a time to celebrate the immense and unique value that trees provide us.  Imagine all the umbrellas you would need to provide the shade that our urban canopy trees do.  Or, imagine all the extra storm drain capacity we would need to install if we didn’t have the rainwater catching and absorbing capacity of our trees.  Or, imagine how high our collective air conditioning bill would climb if we didn’t have trees cooling the air and our homes.  Trees truly are a wonderful and useful asset to our city, and beautiful too.

Arbor Day is also a time to recognize that a city can be a hard place for trees to live, and that they need our tender love and care!  It is a time to redouble our commitment to providing our trees what they need to thrive in our urban environment.  One of the most important acts you can take to support our urban forest is to plant a tree where there wasn’t one.  Residents and property owners across the City are planting trees this season in solidarity with this mission.  For the trees you already have, remember that a broad area of woody or leafy mulched soil for the roots to grow in is ideal.  And, don’t forget to water your new trees.  Typically, fifteen gallons once a week is sufficient for a new young tree, though watering twice a week can be a good idea during times of drought.

This year, Maryland Arbor Day is April 5th while nationally recognized Arbor Day is April 28th.  Tree planting is best done earlier in the spring, but any time is a good time to celebrate trees! See the following pages on the City’s website for more information on planting and caring for trees:

Join us on Saturday, April 22nd at 10:00am at Circle Woods for a celebratory gathering and tree walk.  The City’s Urban Forest Manager Marty Frye will lead the session identifying some of our choice native trees and expounding upon their virtues.  We will also have rain gauges and trunk guards for deer protection to give away; first come, first served!  Please RSVP on Eventbrite so we can keep tabs on expected attendance: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/takoma-park-arbor-day-celebration-and-tree-walk-tickets-592522329237

Contact Information:

Marty Frye, Urban Forest Manager
Email: urbanforestmanager@takomaparkmd.gov
Phone: 301-891-7612

Table of Contents for Urban Forestry



Spotlight Topics of Interest: The Spotted Lanternfly


The spotted lanternfly is an insect pest that recently arrived in Maryland.  It sucks sap from trees and can weaken them but rarely kills them.  It is of most concern to tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), grapes, and nursery and orchard trees.  The Takoma Park Urban Forest Manager has not yet confirmed a sighting of the spotted lanternfly in the City but it has been sighted in Montgomery County, which is currently designated as part of the quarantine zone.  See the resources linked below for additional information.

What can residents do?
  • Maintain the health of your trees so they can cope with any stress caused by potential spotted lanternfly feeding.  This includes mulching the soil tree roots are growing in, maintaining appropriate soil fertility, and watering during dry times.
  • Report any sightings of the spotted lanternfly to the Urban Forest Manager and to the Maryland Department of Agriculture via the link below.
  • Check vehicles and outdoor items for spotted lanternfly egg masses, nymphs, and adults before moving  them out of the quarantine zone.
Further Details

Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to China. In 2006, this planthopper spread to South Korea and then in 2014 to Pennsylvania. Since then there have been confirmed sightings in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Its favorite host is Ailanthus altissima, the Tree-of-heaven, also native to China but is known to feed on a wide variety of plants. As this invasion is an on-going issue, we don’t yet know the full range of affected plants. Currently, the plants that are affected by this insect include; Almond, Apple, Apricot, Basil, Blueberry, Cherry, Cucumber, Grape, Hickory, Hops, Horseradish, Maple, Nectarine, Oak, Peaches, Pine, Plum, Sycamore, Walnut and Willow. The current understanding is that the insect is of most concern to tree-of-heaven, grapes, and potentially nursery and orchard trees. It seems likely that the health impacts to many of the other species will be minor. However, we must remain vigilant and adapt as new information emerges.

The insect damages these plants in two different ways:

  • The nymphs and adults use their piercing mouthparts to feed off the fluid from the stems or leaves. This causes reduced yield, stunted growth, localized damage and in some cases, death.
  • The second way damage is caused is through the sugary secretion the Spotted Lanternfly makes while feeding. This substance is called honeydew and attracts ants, wasps and other insects as well as is readily colonized by mold. The mold then causes parts of the plant to blacken which reduces photosynthesis.

For current information please refer to the following links:

Urban Forestry Sections