Category Archives: Trees

2021 Recap: West Chester Tree Team and Living Landscapes

by Courtney Finneran

Even in the midst of the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 turned out to be a successful and dynamic year for the West Chester Tree Team and the Living Landscapes Committee. Our community chose to prioritize spending time outside, gardening in the soil, and educating themselves on the benefits of native planting. Below is a recap of some of the highlights. Stay tuned next month to learn about some exciting things that our committee has planned for 2022, including several native planting volunteer events at Goose Creek and Chestnut Street Garage. If you are interested in supporting our group, please email and let us know! 

Street Tree Plantings in 2021

Over the spring 2021 and fall 2021 planting seasons, the West Chester Borough Arborist planted a total of 190 new trees in street right-of-ways and parks across town. We are still counting on our Tree Team volunteers (that’s you!) to keep an eye on our street tree canopy in your travels across town. Remember that in the Borough, a permit is required for any tree work performed on street trees as well as use of a preapproved landscape firm. 

Goose Creek Invasive Removal Project (April 2021)

WCGT partnered with the Tree Commission in organizing a volunteer invasive removal and native planting project. On April 17, 2021, approximately 20 volunteers showed up to remove invasive vegetation from a 200-ft length of the banks of Goose Creek near Greenfield Park.  Once the area was cleared, volunteers laid down a thick layer of wood chips provided by the Public Works Dept. Invasive species removed include: Multiflora Rose, Porcelain Berry,  Oriental Bittersweet, Japanese Honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard, Knotweed and more. 

Following the removal, local Borough residents Linda Glaum and Woody Lathbury have continued to care for the project area by showing up regularly to continue to remove invasive species, and planted native perennials and grasses alongside the native riparian trees planted by the Borough Arborist. Native plantings donated by the Glaums include Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a PawPaw, Virginia Willow (Itea virginica), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), and false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides),

This project was led by the West Chester Green Team in partnership with the Public Works Department, the Borough Arborist, and the Borough Tree Commission.  

Lawn to Native Pollinator Garden Conversion (May 2021)

In May 2021, members of the West Chester Transition Team’s Living Landscapes Committee created a publicly accessible native pollinator garden located in the 500 block of South Maryland Ave in West Chester Borough to showcase an affordable DIY project to convert a monoculture lawn into a gorgeous and ecologically beneficial native pollinator garden. 

Accessible from the sidewalk, the new 200-square-foot native pollinator garden provides nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds and food for caterpillars. Native plants have evolved to act as hosts to our native insects and therefore provide a highly valuable resource that cannot be provided by non-natives.

Green Man Garden Tour (June 2021)

In June of 2021, the WCGT developed a self-guided walking tour of 10 home gardens across the Borough. The tour included a scavenger hunt where each of the home participants hid a green man/woman in the landscape of the garden area. The WCGT website contained all the details including the sample walking route.  The tour focused mostly on showcasing native gardens including lawn conversions across various scales, including some established, some new, and some in process. This may be an annual tradition, so reach out if you are interested in supporting this effort in 2022! 

Chestnut Street Hellstrip Garden (September 12, 2021)

The WCGT Living Landscapes committee organized a native planting project for the “hellstrip” along East Chestnut Street at the Chester County History Center.  This strip of dirt between the curb and sidewalk now includes a 7 ft long x 3.5 ft wide strip of native plants — all donated by WCGT members — including “shorter” perennials, grasses, and cover.  

E. Prescott Alley / Chestnut St Garage Garden (October, 2021)

The West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) reached out to the WCGT to help beautify one alleyway in downtown West Chester in an effort to achieve an important goal in the BID’s five-year plan. Members of BID and WCGT together recognized the urgent need to install a native pollinator garden which would provide an educational component with informational signage, an ecological oasis providing habitat for pollinators, and a beautiful landscape component of the urban environment. Phase 1 efforts completed in 2021 included planning and design, and a volunteer-led work day where approximately 20 individuals removed the original mature invasive shrubs, installed a new garden path, planted several redbud trees and 12 native shrubs. In Spring 2022, volunteers will be asked to help plant over 2,000 perennial plugs to help complete the project. This new garden is located at the base of the Chestnut St Garage (on the East Prescott Alley side) and serves as a highly visible entrance point for visitors to the West Chester Borough business district. 


The Goshen Tree Tenders, formed in May 2018 and “dedicated to growing the tree canopy of East and West Goshen,” publish a very informative newsletter, and you can download here:

Some of the topics included in this issue:
• The Land of Goshen (Goshen Township established 1704)
• Take the Next Step (offering to help with customized tree tips)
• Pruning 101 (how to prune for safety, tree health, and aesthetics)
• Calendar (events by the group)
• Tree Planting Showcase: Ashbridge Preserve (riparian planting and maintenance in Willistown; more here)
• Skill-building for Nature: Basic Tree Tender Training (Virtual) (sign up for PHS training as a certified tree tender)

See also the Goshen Tree Tenders’ web site here. And thanks for all their work to protect the essential place of trees in the natural environment!

Benefits of Trees

Two lofty pecan trees, West Chester

Trees are good for nature—of course, because they are part of nature. They retain soil and moisture, spread shade, remove carbon from the atmosphere, and provide food and shelter for innumerable species of animals, from tiny wasp larvae to chunky caterpillars, from squirrels to eagles.

Trees are also good for people, who, whether they think about it or not, depend on nature. Trees cool asphalt, enhance the attraction of city streets and yards, and soothe our daily stresses.

West Chester Arborist Mike Dunn has been heading up a tree-planting program in the Borough, and similar efforts are underway in surrounding communities; see, e.g., Goshen Tree Tenders here.

As a public education measure, our allies in the West Chester Tree Team have helped by distributing a 2-page brochure of the International Society of Arboriculture, entitled “Benefits of Trees.” (Download it from the Borough site here.)

The brochure sets forth:

• Social Benefits: Trees in our communities make us feel at home, calm, personally connected to them (and nature)….

• Communal Benefits: privacy, views, glare reduction….

• Environmental Benefits: heat moderation, air quality improvement, runoff absorption, wildlife habitats, wind reduction, reduction of pollutants….

• Economic Benefits: increased property values, reduction of heating and cooling costs, less need for storm water control facilities….

• Trees Require an Investment: of course, maintenance is needed to acquire the benefits….

For educational info from ISA, see Trees Are Good. According to the site’s Tree Benefit Calculator, one large white oak tree in our area confers benefits of about $500 a year!

See also our post “Value and Savings from 800 street trees, West Chester Borough” here. and the WC Tree Team / Living Landscape’s 2021 tree report here.

Don’t work on West Chester street trees without permission!

Under West Chester Borough’s recent tree ordinance, any work performed on a street tree in the right of way must have prior borough approval which involves filling out this form and emailing to Mike Dunn.

Please spread the word and make sure your neighbors are aware, and let us know if you see any damaging tree work being performed (as in this photo; fortunately the others in the row were saved by quick action). Fall is the time for pruning and cleaning up the tree canopy, so please spread the word.

Whenever you hire someone to do tree work, be sure they are properly licensed and insured. Otherwise there can be big trouble.

Wherever a tree is, it should not be “topped.” Topping is harmfully cutting off branches and leaving stubs that are not strong enough to support the new branches that would be needed to round out and nourish the tree. A topped tree ultimately is misshapen, needs more trimming, and even dies. Download more about why not to top trees here. Why hire an arborist for your tree work? Download here.

What is a street tree? It is usually between a sidewalk and a street, or where a sidewalk would be if there were one, but it really depends on land titles, and a street tree can be as much as 10 or 12 feet from the edge of the street. So in case of doubt check with West Chester Urban Forester Mike Dunn.

They’re Back! The Spotted Lanternfly Returns

Advice from WCU Office of sustainability Summer Bulletin No. 4: June 22, 2020

If you’ve spent any time outside in the past few weeks, you’ve likely spotted the above pictured Spotted Lanternfly Instar, or early stage nymph. The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species spreading throughout the state of Pennsylvania, negatively affecting agricultural crops and hardwood trees. In an effort to decrease their numbers, the following steps are recommended:

• Remove host vegetation (tree of heaven, oriental bittersweet, grape, etc.) but realize that when they are in their early instar stages, they are more generalist, and can be found feeding on a variety of plants, including ornamentals.

• Smash them if you can catch them – they’re very quick and jumpy at this early instar stage, so this is difficult. For these early instars, pillow cases can be placed around full branches and vines, closed around the limb, then after shaking to release the bugs from the limbs, smash in the pillowcase.

• Put up Web-Cote brand sticky bands with wire mesh to avoid birds and small mammals being caught (pictured here), or

BugBarrier bands , or

• Circle trunk traps (make your own)