Report Your Plantings: Every Tree Counts!

Photo: Courtesy of Plant NOVA Trees

From Plant NOVA Trees:

Every tree counts! And counting every tree also helps show whether Northern Virginia is meeting its environmental goals. The Virginia Department of Forestry is counting planted trees to see if Virginia is meeting its stormwater goals to protect the bay, and the Department of Environmental Quality is asking Northern Virginia to plant 600,000 trees by 2025.

Birch leaf_edited.png                  Birch leaf_edited.png

Since most available land in Northern Virginia is private property, this goal will not be met without planting thousands of new trees in our own neighborhoods. Help keep track of the progress and build momentum by reporting your tree planting. The tree planting reports are forwarded and added to the Virginia Department of Forestry’s My Trees Count map, which is updated a couple times a year.

As of 7/20/2023:  12,677 trees and shrubs reported!

Click to report your tree and shrub plantings


Spotted Lanternfly Egg Mass Surveys– a virtual training for volunteer community scientists, February 21st

Photo Credit: Spotted Lanternfly by Stephen Ausmus, USDA

Tuesday, February 21, 2023
12:00 – 1:00 PM EST

Brown Bag Webinar

Registration and additional details.

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that was discovered in Virginia in 2018, and has the potential to cause significant economic and ecological impacts. Help us monitor its spread by looking for egg masses in high-risk areas. This training will cover the biology and identification of the spotted lanternfly, its current distribution, how and where to conduct egg mass surveys, and how to record data.

Presentations will be given by Lori Chamberlin and Katlin DeWitt from the Virginia Department of Forestry.

These classes are approved FMN CE.  Record hours in Better Impact under Continuing Education > All Continuing Education.  For Approved CE Organization, choose VMN-State or Chapter offered.  In Description, include the name of the class.

Acorn collection for VDOF, deadline October 14th

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) collects a variety of species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Nursery (Crimora, Va.) to grow into tree seedlings that will become the forests of tomorrow. These seeds will produce next year’s hardwood seedling crop, which will be sold to Virginia’s forestland owners. Seedlings grown from Virginia-grown seed generally produces trees that will best thrive in our state’s climates.

Certain nuts can be difficult to find regionally, and availability can change year to year. At times, one species of tree in a region may produce minimal acorns, while others are abundant. This is why VDOF puts out a call-to-action for landowners across the state. The more trees that can be identified for collection, the more nuts can be potentially planted in the nursery.

Virginia landowners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are asked to review Seeking Acorns and Nuts to Grow Seedlings to learn about the species needed and procedures for collecting acorns and nuts.

This year’s deadline for receiving acorns is Friday, October 14, 2022.

Urban Wood Use, Keeping Lumber out of Landfills and More

The Virginia Department of Forestry along with the Virginia Urban Forest Council is promoting better use of urban wood from both tree removal and building deconstruction.  This is a nationwide movement to use a valuable resource, extend the carbon storage of urban wood and provide jobs.  Below is a YouTube video of a story from CBS:

Less than six minutes long!

As part of this effort they have developed the Urban and Small Woodlot Forestry Business Directory found here: This directory covers small lot management, harvesting, milling, and end use production.  If you or your neighbors have a tree they are planning to take down, consult the directory and look for something other to do with the tree than sending to the landfill or the chipper.

My Tree Counts–Help the VDOF

Photo by J. Quinn Article by Jim McGlone, Urban Forest Conservationist, Virginia Department of Forestry

In 2010, the courts determined that the EPA and its partners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed had not made sufficient progress in improving Bay water quality with voluntary measures and ordered the EPA to begin regulatory measures to clean up the Bay. The process the EPA settled on was the Watershed Improvement Plan (WIP) and directed the states in the Bay watershed to develop plans to improve water quality in the Bay and its tributaries.

In 2020, Virginia adopted WIP phase 3 or WIP III. This plan has many elements and practices, but one of the practices that is relevant to home owners is tree planting. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has been tasked with counting tree plantings to meet the WIP III goals. This year (October 1 – September 30) the goal for Northern Virginia is 28,500 trees and shrubs.

Needless to say, the VDOF needs your help to count all these plantings, so we made a web app for that. It is called My Tree Counts On this app you can report your tree and shrub plantings made since October 1, 2020. You can also read about other tree planting projects in Virginia and learn why trees are so good at protecting water quality. We want to count every tree planted this year and for at least the next 4 years, so please report your tree and shrub plantings and ask your friends and neighbors to do so as well, because MY TREE COUNTS!

VDOF Seeks Acorns/Nuts from Virginia Landowners, deadline October 16th

Photo by Dcrjsr – Own work, CC BY 3.0

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is again seeking 12 species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Forestry Center [Crimora, Virginia] to grow into tree seedlings that will become the forests of tomorrow.

Each year, VDOF asks the public from across the state to collect and donate nuts of select species to be planted at the state nursery. These seeds will produce next year’s hardwood seedling crop, which will be sold to Virginia’s forestland owners. Seedlings grown from Virginia-grown seed generally produces trees that will best thrive in our state’s climates.

In 2019, Virginians did a tremendous job collecting acorns for the nursery. “The public supplied us with tons of acorns and walnuts last year. I am always amazed at the output by Virginians every year,” says Assistant Forestry Center Manager Josh McLaughlin.

Certain nuts can be difficult to find regionally, and availability can change year to year. At times, one species of tree in a region may produce minimal acorns, while others are abundant with “acorns hanging like bunches of grapes,” says McLaughlin. This is why VDOF puts out a call-to-action for landowners across the state. The more trees that can be identified for collection, the more nuts can be potentially planted in the nursery.

Protocols and guidelines for acorn collection remain mostly the same as last year, with some minor adjustments to the collection deadline and species list. Virginia landowners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are asked to follow these guidelines.

During September and early October, it is easy to pick up nuts in many yards and parking lots. Try to avoid trees in more heavily forested areas because there may be different species of trees nearby, making it difficult to sort the nuts by species for proper planting.

The species the tree nursery needs this year are: black oak, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, chestnut oak, live oak, northern red oak, pin oak, southern red oak, swamp chestnut oak, swamp white oak, white oak and willow oak.

Place the nuts in a breathable sack or bag (no plastic, please). Minimize debris in the bag (e.g. leaves, sticks, gravel). On the bag, please label the species and date of collection.

Once the nuts are collected, place in a cool area (like a fridge or basement) until you are ready to drop them off at a VDOF office. In Fairfax County, bring the acorns to the bins on the first floor of the parking garage behind the Virginia Department of Forestry office at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA. Nuts must be delivered by October 16, 2020.

Collectors can find more detailed information about collection procedures, nut identification and frequently asked questions on VDOF’s website:

If you have questions, or if there is a tree that needs to be identified before you collect the nuts, please call the Augusta Forestry Center: 540-363-7000.

Master naturalists receive service hour credit for collecting, packaging, and travel to deliver the acorns at code S035.

Virginia Association of Forest Health Professionals, Jan 27-28

Each year VAFHP holds a conference for professionals and others interested in learning more about forest health and ecology of the Mid-Atlantic. The 2020 Conference will be held in Glen Allen, VA, just west of Richmond, on January 27-28, 2020.

Attendees include local, state and federal officials, independent contractors, consultants, horticulture and forest industry representatives and students. We encourage anyone interested in the ecology of the Mid-Atlantic to participate. VAFHP is committed to developing and providing education and training for natural resource professionals.

The Virginia Association of Forest Health Professionals (VAFHP) invites you to apply for their 2020 Conference Scholarship.

This scholarship provides you with a front row seat to pertinent Virginia forest health topics and a chance to network with professionals in forestry related fields.  You will also learn about conference logistics and provide support to the VAFHP Steering Committee throughout the conference.

This opportunity is available for first-time conference attendees and will fully cover registration costs (hotel accommodations and travel costs must be covered by scholarship recipients). Two scholarships will be available; one for recent college graduates and one for professionals or citizen scientists without dedicated travel funds. The deadline to apply is December 6, 2019, recipients will be notified by December 16, 2019.

Please visit for conference details and registration.

 Learn how to plant a riparian forest

September 11, 9:00-2:00pm

Virginia Department of Forestry Training Room                                                                           

900 Natural Resources Drive Suite 800

Charlottesville, VA 22903                                                                                                           


This training is being offered to 

Master Naturalists and Tree Stewards.

There is no cost to you and lunch is included.

Learn from professionals with years of experience 

  • Techniques used to plant forest buffers that can be applied to the Virginia Total Maxiumum Daily Load commitment to the Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.
  • Why planting in riparian areas takes a unique skill set than other tree plantings.
  • How to select a site and species that will result in a successful riparian planting.
  • How the professionals handle seedlings, draw up plans for planting sites
  • Little tips that save dollars but don’t compromise results
  • Learn outreach words and techniques that speak to landowners’ needs, concerns, and stewardship ethics.

The desired outcomes of the training are: 

There will be Master Naturalists and Tree Stewards willing to select planting sites, recruit groups of citizens to help with plantings, and shepherd planting projects from start to finish.  You will have the assistance and support of those who have the experience to produce sustainable tree planting projects in riparian areas.  All trees, and needed supplies will be supplied and available for plantings. 

**Continuing education credits will be made available

Resources for working with native seed mixes in large areas

This resource is meant to be a living document that our community can enrich as they learn. Thank you for sharing generously. If you have additions, go ahead and suggest them in comments, and we’ll update the post.

Seed Companies

Earth Sangha 
May be able to supply a large amount of native plants to plant including seeds if you give them a year to first grow them at the nursery

Ernst Seeds
Virginia Northern Piedmont Mix:


Preparation of the site and the exhaustion of the bank of weed seeds will be critical. Tilling will release a trove of weeds. Future mowing regimens should also be established to mow the annual cool-season weeds in Spring but before the warm-season perennials have taken off.  Mowing will also keep the woodies at bay.

 Consider using seeds for the grasses/flowers, but later use plugs for other flowers, as your budget allows. The flower plugs allow you to have more of an immediate visual impact without breaking the bank. The grasses become the foundation of your planting with the flowers as a smaller, but important, component. (Source: Joe Gorney, President, Fairfax Master Naturalists)

Notes from October 2018 issue of The Acorn, Earth Sangha

Additional notes on plants and conditions, courtesy of Lisa Bright, Executive Director, Earth Sangha 

For meadow-type gardens, you would need sunny and dry-tolerant species to partial-sun and moist-loving species:

  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
  • Andropogon virginicus (Broomsedge Bluestem)
  • Purple-top Grass (Tridens Flavus)
  • Beaked Panic Grass (Coleataenia anceps)
  • Southeastern Wildrye (Elymus glabriflorus)
  • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
  • Purplelove Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis)
  • Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium)
  • Roundleaf Thoroughwort (Eupatorium rotundifolium)
  • Hyssop-leaved Boneset (Eupatorium hyssopifolium)
  • Flat-topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  • Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens)
  • Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
  • Grey Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)
  • Narrow-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)
  • Wild Bergamort (Monarda fistulosa)

For edge of meadow bordering woodlands (sunny most of the time):

  • Deertongue Grass (Dichanthelium clandestinum)
  • Squarrose Sedge (Carex squarrosa)
  • Slender Oatgrass (Chasmantium laxum)
  • Georgia Bulrush (Scirpus georgianus)
  • Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix)
  • Common Patridge Pea (Chaemecrista fasciculata)
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium fistulosum)
  • Rough Boneset (Eupatorium pilosum)
  • Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus sturumosus) & (Helianthus divaricatus)
  • Broadleaf Ironweed (Vernonia glauca)
  • Carolina Wild Petunia (Ruelia caroliniensis)
  • Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)
  • Hyssop Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia)
  • Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata)
  • Rough-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)
  • New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-anglie)
  • Lyre-leaf Sage (Salvia lyrata)
  • Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

Partial-sun woodlands: 

  • Slender Oatgrass (Chasmantium laxum)
  • Wood Sedge (Carex blanda)
  • Long-awned Wood Grass (Brachelytrum erectum)
  • Cattail Sedge (Carex typhina)
  • Virginia Wildrye (Elymus virginicus)
  • Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix)
  • Riverbank Wildrye (Elymus riperius)
  • Poverty Oatgrass (Danthonia spicata)
  • White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)
  • Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
  • Common Dittany (Cunila origanoides)
  • American Alumroot (Heuchera americana)
  • Erect Goldenrod (Solidago erecta)
  • Silverrod (Solidago bicolor)

Streamside woodland edges, full to partial sun: 

  • Deertongue Grass (Dichanthelium clandestinum)
  • Georgia Bulrush (Scirpus georgianus)
  • Common Wood Reedgrass (Cinna anundinacea)
  • Lurid Sedge (Carex lurida)
  • Northern Long Sedge (Carex crinita)
  • Redtop Panic Grass (Coleataenia rigidula)
  • Crown Grass (Paspalum floridanum)
  • New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
  • Blue Swamp Verbena (Verbena hastata)
  • Canada Germander (Teucrium canadensis)
  • Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)
  • Crooked-stem Aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides)
  • Green Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
  • Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
  • Common Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Rain garden: 

  • Deertongue Grass (Dichanthelium clandestinum)
  • Crown Grass (Paspalum floridanum)
  • Lurid Sedge (Carex lurida)
  • Frank’s Sedge (Carex frankii)
  • Georgia Bulrush (Scirpus georgianus)
  • Beaked Panic Grass (Coleataenia anceps)
  • Redtop Panic Grass (Coleataenia rigidula)
  • Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
  • Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris)
  • Blue Swamp Verbena (Verbena hastata)
  • Green Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
  • Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale & H. flexuosum)
  • Allegheny Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens)
  • Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
  • Fall Phlox (Phlox paniculata)


If “large area” means more than 2500 square feet, including a 10 foot buffer around the bed and any disturbed access to the site, it is a land disturbing activity and may require a permit from the county.

If a “run off” pond is connected to a perennial stream, it may also have a Resource Protection Area (RPA) defined; again you would need a permit. Contact the Fairfax County Land Development Services before proceeding if the project is in Fairfax. Prince William and Arlington Counties have similar restrictions. Loudoun does not have RPAs but does have restrictions on land disturbance. (Source: Jim McGlone, VA Dept of Forestry)

Seeding a large area can turn into disaster, one gigantic weedy mess. Look at the meadows others have tried that just turned into a mass of Japanese stiltgrass. Who is going to spend the hours and hours necessary to do the weeding? An alternative strategy would be to start with a small area and expand over the years, or start with one or two species of grass and absolutely nothing else, get that established, then add the forba later. The fewer the species, the easier the weeding job for people who are not botanists. Spend the first year or so simply killing what is there already, letting more weeds sprout, then killing them as well, before doing any planting at all.

In a public setting, most people do better with a more traditional landscaping approach, using mulch initially between plants and not using seeds. For covering very large areas, there is a lot to be said for using shrub and trees with nice wide paths, plus some groundcover wherever you can afford to pay for enough plugs, and a manageable size pollinator garden somewhere in the mix. (Source: Margaret Fisher, Plant NOVA Natives)

Further Reading

Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change, by Larry Weaner

Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes, by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, by Rick Darke

Help with Water Quality Field Day, May 30

The Fairfax County Urban Forest Management Division is looking for volunteers to help out with a Water Quality Field Day. 175 Fort Belvoir 6th-grade students will come in small groups to various activities. Urban Forest Managment’s will be a game demonstrating how water moves through soil of various types.

Thursday, May 30
10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Contact Katharine Layton to volunteer: 703-324-1857 or [email protected]