• Watertown Tree News Archive

Congratulations to this year's student winners of Trees For Watertown's Big Tree Contest!  

November 2017:  Big healthy city shade trees are good for human health, good for the environment, and good for community well-being.  TFW's Big Tree Contest gives Watertown students in Grades K through 8 an opportunity to win a prize for reporting the biggest Watertown tree they can find, with a focus on six specific tree species each year.  The biggest entry reported for each species wins a gift certificate to Belmont Book Store. 

Lily Finton with linden

Lily Finton with the winning 65" diameter Linden at 24 Garfield Street

Congratulations to the following four students for reporting the most impressive specimens of four contest species this year:  Cameron Burke from Cuniff School found a 63" diameter maple tree at 17 Nyack Street, Lily Finton from Hosmer School found a 65" diameter linden tree at 24 Garfield Street, Liiana Ng from the 3rd grade at Hosmer School found a 58" diameter oak tree on the Hosmer playground, and Ryland Schrader from Hosmer School found a 54" diameter sycamore on Casey Playground.

Three more students won Honorable Mentions for finding impressive trees that were not on this year's contest list but are nevertheless worth noting.  Nairi Davidian from the Lowell School found a 49" diameter willow tree at 239 Edenfield Avenue; Caleb Kaufman from the Cuniff School found a 34" diameter spruce tree in Ridgelawn Cemetery, and Annabel Sasser from the Atrium School found a giant beech measuring 79" in diameter at 249 Common Street.  Annabel also found a huge rare pignut hickory tree at 183 Common Street. 

Next year the Big Tree Contest will be back.   Tell your kids to get ready for next year's contest by keeping an eye out for big beautiful trees in Watertown! 

Trees for Watertown is a non-profit volunteer citizen group dedicated to caring for our community and environment by making sure Watertown neighborhoods are beautified and protected by healthy shade trees, now and long into the future.

TFW's inaugural 2017 Teen Tree Stewardship Summer Program

August 2017:  Watertown's Teen Tree Stewards put together a downloadable Tree Identification Guide to 11 common Watertown shade trees, with interesting facts about each species.  Click to see the color booklet!

Read this excellent August 2 Watertown News article by Charlie Breitrose about our Teen Tree Stewardship Program.

And here's another excellent article about TTSP:  August 11 in the Boston Sunday Globe, by Sophia Eppolito.

July 2017:  With grant support from the Watertown Community Foundation and Trees for Watertown, a team of six local teens are learning how trees grow and how to care for trees, are discovering the many vital benefits city trees provide, and are exploring ways to help Watertown's trees and to share what they learn with the Watertown community.
For program info contact David Meshoulam:  david.meshoulam@gmail.com

Teen Tree Stewardship Program 2017

Above:  the Team with Program Coordinator David Meshoulam (4th from left) and Nature Conservancy Presenter Rachel Holmes (holding the Team Tshirt) at the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities training conducted by Ms. Holmes on July 13.

January, 2017:  Trees for Watertown has a Facebook page!

                                           Find TFW on facebook

June 30, 2015:  Watertown Town Council unanimously approved the following tree-protective language in Watertown's Design Guidelines:

Design must allow for proposed trees to grow to their mature size.  Planning documents should specify measures to ensure that there is sufficient space for water penetration and root growth and that the location is appropriate to the mature size of the proposed tree.

This formal acknowledgement of the importance of trees as critical green infrastructure is a real first, a watershed moment for Watertown.  Now to make sure Watertown can follow through!

May, 2015:  TFW planted the last three Osage Orange trees from our Grove Street tree nursery into fairly harsh street sites.  This is the second phase in our experiment to see whether this hardy tree species does well as an urban street tree.  This is also an experiment with bare-root street tree planting.

As of May 2015 the five Osage Oranges planted in Spring 2014 were doing excellently under the care of their neighborhood tree stewards.

September, 2014:  Contractors for the MassDOT Trapelo Road/
Belmont Street Corridor Project continued to explicitly violate the
excellent comprehensive tree protections in the MassDOT contract
for this work
despite repeated alerts to MassDOT and Belmont. 
The result has been severe and continuing tree damage.

Trapelo Rd contract violation July 2014

Crushing and tearing injuries to roots and root suffocation
due to soil compaction are insidious.  Loss of structural roots
will destabilize the tree. 
Depending on the extent of loss of
feeder roots and of opportunistic infection, it may take
several seasons for healthy trees to show decline - long after
the contractors have packed up and left.

This is why protective measures are so important.

CLICK HERE to go to a photo album of MassDOT Project damage
to Belmont trees.

On Saturday, April 5, 2014, TFW transplanted five Osage Orange
trees from the Grove Street Community Garden tree nursery 
to street sites where neighboring citizens have volunteered
to water them.
Big thanks for a successful effort go to Watertown's Tree Warden
Chris Hayward and Leo's Landscaping for preparing the planting
sites, to our hard-working TFW transplant team, and to our
volunteer neighborhood tree stewards! 

Here's the new Standish St. Osage Orange with two of its
neighbor tree stewards.

New Osage Orange on Standish St.

TFW's Osage Orange saplings spent three years in TFW's tree nursery. 
See how tall they were in Fall 2013! 

These trees were transplanted to sites on Watertown streets in Spring, 2014.  We'll update you on how they do.

Osage Oranges Fall 2013


Ready to help out by visiting a few of your neighborhood street trees with a list of items to check?
Please contact TFW to learn how you can help! 
Here's a useful pamphlet on an easily-preventable problem for many young street-planted trees.


Janet Bunbury tree planting

On a sunny Saturday in October 2012, Trees for Watertown, the Church
of the Good Shepherd, and several dozen friends and appreciators of
Janet Bunbury joined Janet and her family on the front lawn at the
, to plant a handsome "Valley Forge" elm in her honor. 

With good care and a bit of luck, this lovely shade tree will grace
Mount Auburn Street for the next couple hundred years.

CLICK HERE to link to a text of the wonderful Blessing of the Janet Bunbury Elm by Pastor Amy McCreath.

CLICK HERE to link to an album of pictures from the event.


In Spring, 2011, TFW and Mount Auburn Cemetary collaborated to plant "whips" of Osage Orange
'White Shield', a thornless, fruitless variety of this tough and handsome tree, in Mount  Auburn
Cemetery's tree nursery, to grow until they were tall enough to be planted out on the street. 
Look how tall and healthy these seedlings were just seven months later!

Osage seedlings October 2011

In Spring, 2012, in order to make room for construction of a new greenhouse in the Cemetary,
the little trees were transplanted across the street into a bed in the new Grove Street Community
Garden, where they have spent a growing season re-establishing their root systems.  We are now looking for good sites for this test variety of street tree.  Suggestions are welcome!


    Boston.com/yourtown, September 18, 2011
    More towns consider municipal electrical utilities
    after long NSTAR  Irene outages

    Boston.com/yourtown, October 3, 2010
    More NSTAR complaints south of Boston

     Boston.com/yourtown, August 11, 2010
     NSTAR to halt pruning in Watertown - again

     Wicked Local Watertown, August 11, 2010
     Watertown Town Council votes unanimously
     to halt NSTAR utility pruning

     Wicked Local Newton, August 10, 2010
     Newton puts a hold on NSTAR pruning

WCTV "Voices Near and Far" interview, August 4, 2010
     Host Eileen McKlusky interviews TFW President Ruth Thomasian

     Watertown Tree Warden memo, August 5, 2010
     Recommended changes in utility pruning protocol

     Wicked Local Watertown, August 2, 2010
     NSTAR to continue pruning Watertown trees

     Enterprise News, Lexington, Aug 27, 2009
     NStar Must Provide Real Reason for Outages
     Boston.com/yourtown, August 2, 2010
  Arlington to residents: report NSTAR pruning to police

    Watertown Residents Vote 88% In Favor of Town Placing Restrictions on Pruning
    Watertown Tab & Press Poll, July 2010
    Town of Watertown web site, July 30, 2010
    NSTAR will resume pruning August 9

, July 21, 2010
    Arlington:  NSTAR suspends pruning after complaints

    WickedLocal.com/Maynard, July 16, 2010
    Maynard:  NSTAR suspends pruning after complaints

    Watertown Tab&Press, July 9, 2010
    LTE:  NSTAR gets away with more in Watertown

    Boston.com/news/local, July 8, 2010

NStar puts a hold on tree pruning

    Watertown Tab&Press, July 2, 2010
    NSTAR halts tree pruning in Watertown

    Boston.com/yourtown, July 1, 2010 
    NSTAR agrees to temporary halt to tree pruning in Watertown

    Watertown Tab&Press, June 25, 2010
    NSTAR pruning crews are damaging trees in Watertown

    Watertown Tab&Press, June 25, 2010
    Letter from Watertown resident Joel Hencken to Lucas Trees



Asian Longhorned  Beetle poster       Download TFW's ALB flyer

Beetle FAQ's

       WGBH-TV Channel 2/HD, August 15, 2010
       LURKING IN THE TREES:  Special Broadcast
on ALB, Sunday, August 13, 1 pm
       Boston.com/yourtown, July 15, 2010
       No new ALB have been found in
       Boston, but search continues

       Boston.com/news, July 11, 2010
       Worcester:  a recovery takes root

       Boston.com/news, July 6, 2010

       Asian Longhorned Beetle discovered
       near Arnold Arboretum in Boston
(includes video)

Topic:  The Arsenal Apartments Courtyard will stay!

Courtyard in Springtime
    Gilbane Development Company, Rhode Island-based manager    
of Watertown's Arsenal Apartments housing for senior and disabled
     residents, intended to convert a tree-shaded central courtyard
      into a parking lot.  

      At a hearing on September 14, 2011, the Watertown Planning    
Board voted unanimously not to approve the project.
      Gilbane subsequently withdrew its petition for Zoning Board
approval, which was required for the project to go forward.

to see the presentation from Arsenal Apartments
       residents to the Planning Board in defense of the Courtyard.

       CLICK HERE to see a slide show illustrating the value
                                                                            of this beautiful courtyard.



In May, 2011, Trees for Watertown sponsored a moderated public conversation at the
Watertown Public Library.  Seven speakers gave 5-minute slide show presentations
on the value of trees from the perspectives of their professions:  energy conservation,
real estate, public health, arboriculture, and religious guidance,  as well as from the
vantage points of a Watertown parent of young children and a Watertown town
councilor.  The discussion continued afterward with questions and comments from
interested members of the public.

You can watch the full event on YouTube. 
The presentations begin at about 12 minutes into Part I (of 4).
Total duration:  110 minutes 

CLICK HERE   to watch the video on YouTube

             CLICK HERE   to download a one-page description of the event

             CLICK HERE   to download the panelists' slides
(3 MB PDF) including
                                      resources & web sites the panelists recommend
• Reports and Documents

The Successful Tree Planting Initiative is a series of articles from the Massachusetts Urban & Community Forestry Program detailing how to improve urban shade tree survival. (Quick summary:  plant them right!)

Here are links to these hugely informative articles.

     Part I      Conducting a Site Assessment
     Part II     Tree Selection
     Part III    Tree Establishment

Occasional TFW articles in the Watertown Tab & Press give quick, easy-to-read information about best practices for urban home landscapes.  You can link to published articles here:

     Part I     What's So Bad About Leaf Blowers?
     Part II    What's So Bad About "Mulch Volcanoes"?
     Part III   What's So Great About a Shade Tree?

Ten Major Values of Trees
What a large urban street tree can do for you

      22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees
            An illustrated brochure by
Dan Burden, Senior Urban Designer.
            Glatting Jackson and Walkable Communities, Inc; May, 2006

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