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Free Trees Available from Arlington County

posted Apr 20, 2010, 6:03 PM by RockSpring CivicAssociation   [ updated Apr 21, 2010, 1:42 PM ]
Rock Spring has lost many of our wonderful large canopy trees due to infill and the recent snow and wind storms.  We need more large trees to provide cooling shade, help clean the air, reduce noise levels, provide homes for birds and absorb storm water runoff.  To encourage this renewal, Arlington County Parks and Natural Resources Division is this year offering a variety of tree whips for residents. The tree whips are approximately three to five feet in height and are potted in two-gallon containers.  Due to limited quantities, there is only one tree per household and the deadline for requesting the tree is April 28.   This year, volunteer Tree Stewards are available to answer your questions and assist you in selecting the Right Tree to fit in the Right Place in your yard.  To reserve a tree for your yard, please contact our neighborhood tree coordinator Sharon Jolly: 703-241-7057, or

The following large shade trees are being offered. These should be planted at least 10 feet away from any overhead wire or building, with consideration for other trees, underground utilities,  and sidewalks.  
American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) –  This is a large and spreading shade tree with showy white, cream, olive and gray bark. It can get to 80 feet high with a 60 foot spread. It is very adaptable to wet or dry soils and likes full and partial sun.  Photos at

Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) – This large shade tree adapts well to dry, wet and flooding area as well as tolerating full sun to partial shade.  Leaves are a dark green on top and whitish green underneath, resulting in a bicolor effect in the breeze. It matures at 60 feet tall and also has a 60 foot spread.  It is an excellent provider of food and shelter for wildlife of all kinds. Photos at

River birch (Betula nigra) – This is a rapidly growing shade tree with outstanding ornamental bark that can handle dry or wet sites and full sun to partial sun.  It can be single or multiple trunked.  At maturity, it can be 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Photos at

A smaller tree that can be planted  closer to overhead wires, but provides less cooling shade and air cleaning assistance is also available in limited quantities.   

Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) – This is an upright large shrub or small multi-trunked tree, having excellent semi-evergreen waxy foliage, with fragrant creamy late spring flowers. It can mature to 20 feet tall by 15 feet wide.  It prefers partial sun in moist, rich, acidic soils for best performance but can adapt to sunny or shady conditions in a variety of soils.   Photo at

Again, deadline to reserve your tree is April 28.  For more information or assistance in selecting the right tree for your yard, contact Elizabeth Rives:, or 703-486-1323. 

Additional information is available on the County website at: