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Newton Tree Conservancy
84 Fenwick Road
Newton, MA 02468




Invitation to Apply for 2014 (Spring & Fall) Community Tree Plantings

Are there empty spaces on the berms in your neighborhood where street trees formerly provided shade and beauty? Would you like to work with your neighbors and the Newton Tree Conservancy (NTC) to plant new trees? The NTC is now accepting applications for our 2014 spring and fall Community Tree Plantings.

Grants from Newton Community Pride's Stella and Leo Levi Tree Endowment Fund and contributions from the community have enabled the NTC to plant more than 250 trees over the past four years.

We have available funding and logistical capability to plant another 100 trees in 2014. We are inviting applications for 2014 Fall plantings now, with an application deadline of June 1, 2014.

General Information

In order to plant where the need for trees is greatest, and for logistical reasons, our preference is to plant in clusters of eight or more trees where five or more homeowners, in relatively close proximity, have empty spots. Because we like to fully plant whichever blocks we do, we will plant more than one tree per requesting property if there is more than one appropriate space on the berm. (For past planting locations, see map here.)

In order to plant as many trees as possible with limited funds and people, we ask that each group provide one planter/helper per property on planting day, and that at least three of these people attend Newton Tree Stewards planting training. Please note that while some digging ability is helpful, we will have a crew to get the holes started, and we need people to hold the trees upright and spotters to make sure they're straight as the hole is filled, so not all jobs are strenuous. Also, bare-root trees are not heavy and are therefore much easier to plant. (For a look at the process, see this video from 2009.)


Also please note that the planter-helper and the caretaker (person who will water and weed the tree) do not have to be the resident/owner. If you have elderly neighbors who would like a tree but are not up to physical participation, or absentee landlords, we encourage the group to ask for the participation of other neighbors to help with the work. Having neighbors as backup to water will also be helpful during vacation absences.


  1. The group's organizer should submit the Community Tree Planting Group Application, including Attachment 2 - Summary (list of requesting addresses) and Attachment 3 - Supporting Detail (copy to be filled out be each requesting resident/owner). You can download the Group Application as a fillable Word Document or as a PDF file (opens in new window).
  2. Each requesting address should have a suitable empty spot on their berm (the grass strip between sidewalk and street) and have a person willing to water the newly-planted tree weekly for the first two years of its life and keep its mulched area weeded. We must ensure that any trees we plant will have sufficient water; otherwise they will not survive and your efforts and our money will have been wasted. To facilitate watering, each tree will have a TreeGator drip irrigation bag, which will need to be filled with 20 gallons of water approximately once a week from spring to fall.
  3. Species will be selected in consultation with Newton's Director of Urban Forestry, Marc Welch, taking into consideration the presence or absence of utility wires and other location factors, and availability of species when ordering. (Species planted in 2011 included serviceberry and crabapple under utility wires, and red oak and disease-resistant American elm, not under wires.)
  4. Applications should be submitted by December 6, 2013 to allow time for review of locations, species selection, and ordering for spring 2014 plantings. Applications not accepted for spring or fall of 2014 will be held for future consideration.

Projected Timeline

Late March (after ground thaws) - Testing for gas leaks at planting sites.
April 19, 2014 - Tree Stewards Planting Training starts at 9:00AM.
April 26, 2014 Spring Community Tree Plantings, 9:00AM start.
(NOTE: Plantings will proceed in light or moderate rain, which is a favorable condition for the trees. If heavy rain is expected, a rain date will be scheduled).
June 1, 2014 - Application deadline for Fall Community Tree Plantings.
November 8, 2014 - Tree Stewards Planting training.
November 15, 2014 - 2014 Fall Community Tree Plantings.


Tree Pruning

(Three classes required)
In-class: TBD
Hands-on training: TBD

  tree pruning

Gas Leaks

You may have read in the Newton Tab or Boston Globe about the problem of underground gas leaks affecting trees by depriving their roots of oxygen. (The effect is actually three-fold: the methane displaces oxygen in the soil, it dries out the fine roots, and it leads to the proliferation of methane-eating bacteria which further use up oxygen.) The Newton gas leak survey done by Bob Ackley in 2009-2010 on behalf of the Massachusetts Public Shade Tree Trust found 378 leaks in the root zone of existing or recently removed trees. You may refer to the report to the City to see if your address had a gas leak during the survey period (see Table 1 in report here), and if it was in the area of your potential planting spot (see leak maps here, PDF file, 29.5 MB). However, we will test all planting locations for gas, as some leaks may have been repaired, new leaks may have occurred, and the survey did not cover leaks where there had not recently been a tree.

If you want a tree but think you have a gas leak:

  • Call National Grid if you smell gas.
  • You can still fill out Attachment 2 as part of a group application, noting the actual or suspected gas leak, and whatever information National Grid has told you. If your leak is repaired before spring testing, we may be able to plant if a tree becomes available. And if not, it is useful to know where gas leaks have prevented us from planting.

For further information of questions regarding your application, please call Julia Malakie at 617-332-2940, or email info@newtontreeconservancy.org

gas leak tree

GIS work/Tree Inventory

An inventory of street trees is the single biggest key in determining the condition and management needs of Newton's street trees. Without the knowledge that an inventory provides, Newton cannot accurately address these needs or plan for the associated costs. There are several methods for conducting a street tree inventory, ranging from precisely focused to broad and fully encompassing.

Inventories are only useful when they are managed and updated on a regular basis. Information that was collected as few as five years ago may not provide an accurate picture of existing conditions. Newton's inventory has not been substantially updated in over ten years. To effectively manage the City of Newton's tree inventory, the data must be updated.

A two-pronged approach is recommended for gaining information on Newton's urban forest. The first aspect is to conduct a random sample survey of the trees in Newton. This relatively inexpensive and rapid method will allow the mangers of the urban forest to understand the current overall status of Newton's trees. This information will be used to better allocate existing resources and make more responsible fiscal decisions. Over the long term the City's ultimate goal is to inventory each tree in the urban forest. This process can be costly and time consuming. The benefits will be an extremely accurate picture of the needs of the urban forest and the necessary resources that will be needed to properly care for the trees as outlined in this manual.

Any inventory in the City of Newton is to be recorded in a computer management system specifically designed for trees. This system will include a component linked directly to a Geographic Information System (GIS). Once collected, this information will be used to develop certain conclusions. Firm action plans will be developed for the maintenance of Newton's tree population. Comparisons will be made against the data that was collected in 1991 to determine the effectiveness the Newton's urban forestry program. It will illustrate trends and areas requiring the most attention.



Programs for care-taking and monitoring of the City's tree population will involve private participants as well as schools and schoolchildren. Details of these programs will be announced as they are developed.


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