Blog Post By Casey Manning

Crew transitions into summer – Essay

Even as the last tree of the spring season goes into the ground, the work of the Casey Trees Tree Planting Crew doesn’t slow down. Urban Forestry Manager Neil Irvin reflects on the Crew’s transition into the hardest months for a tree in D.C. in his own words:

From early on into the season until late into fall, the Crew chimes in with stories and tales belaying their hard work to keep trees clean and caught up to all that needs to be done before the fall season begins.

Yes, this time of year comes around and we transition, clean and reset trucks and tidy up the tree yard. This includes cleaning tools, sharpening shovels and winterizing our gear. Dusting off the shorts sleeves and giving our shovels the summer off.

All the while Casey Trees arborists are scheduling plantings (including Community and School Tree Plantings) for following seasons. I interview teenagers for positions on our Summer Crew and buy new equipment for the team all the while working to make all of our processes more efficient. I’m always thinking “efficiency.” The work load will always be there season after season but how can we as a Crew work smarter and not harder?

This downtime also allows for our Arborists to discuss the ups and downs of the preview planting seasons with the rest of the Casey Trees staff. What went really well, how things could be better and looking forward to what is in the pipeline for next season.

The Crew uses this time to remove and replace trees from previous seasons that for one reason or another didn’t survive.  If we see a dead tree when we’re out in the field but don’t have the tools or time to remove it then, we use an app to mark this tree and pull a query on trees that need addressing during this time.

Finally, the Crew will use this time to visit the DC Water plant in Southeast to pick up a trailer load of bio-solids. We’ll spend two weeks sending out crews daily to add bio-solids and mulch to the trees we’ve planted over the past year. We specifically target sites that had poor soil structure. Ledroit Park, for example, was a site where the soil was especially dense with construction fill in. Our tools had a tough time digging in and we came away drenched in sweat and with a couple broken pick axes to show for our work.  But thanks to the committed volunteers who stuck it out, the trees planted that day all leafed out and we didn’t lose one.

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