Tree pruning in Polish Hill on Sunday March 11

If you’d like to learn a little more about tree pruning, stop by as the Tree Tenders come to Polish Hill to take care of the street trees.  A number of new trees have been planted throughout Polish Hill, and they’re in need of pruning to help them grow tall and true.  Due to the technical knowledge required for proper tree pruning, only graduates of the Tree Tenders program may register for this event.  But anyone is welcome to come out, watch, and learn.

Meet at the PHCA office at 3060 Brereton Street at 10:00 a.m.  If you are a Tree Tender and wish to register to help prune, please CLICK HERE. For more info on this event, contact

For more info on the Tree Tenders program, check the website or contact

Trees need watering, too

For those of you who have young street trees that were planted in the last three years, we bring you this reminder from Tree Pittsburgh:

“Young trees need at least 25 gallons of water each week to establish and survive. So set your hose on low and let your trees get a good drink… or fill a five gallon bucket with holes in the bottom and sit it next to your tree a few times.. or use a fancy gator bag [pictured above] to water.. but be sure to water your trees!”

For more information about tree care, see this handy chart on Tree Pittsburgh’s site.  Or check out this info sheet.

Tree climbing championship and kids climb May 7th in Allegheny Cemetery

The Penn-Del Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) will host the Western Tree Climbing Championship in the Allegheny Cemetery, at 4734 Butler Street in Lawrenceville, on Saturday May 7th.  Beginning at 8am, twenty-five of the region’s best male and female arborists will take to the limbs in hopes of competing for the state title, which grants them a chance to climb against other champions from around the world in Sydney, Australia at the ISA Annual Conference.

The competitive games will provide an opportunity for tree lovers to see professional climbers perform skills used in the tree industry where both speed and precision count.  A series of five contest events challenge climbers in the ways of daily work situations: the belayed speed climb, work climb, secured footlocking, throw line event, and aerial rescue.

Do you have what it takes to be a professional tree climber?  This year, the Western Tree Climbing Championship features a Kid’s Climb, inviting aspiring climbers to attempt some of the skills they will see at the competition.  All children are welcome to wear a tree climbing harness and climb with the aid of ropes under experienced supervision.

The Tree Climbing Championship is free, family friendly, and open to the public.  Refreshments from local vendors will be available.  In case of heavy rain, the competition will be held on Saturday May 14th.

For more information contact Matt Erb, Event Chair, at 412-362-6360 or email

(photo by Becky Stein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

City giving away free trees tomorrow

The City of Pittsburgh’s annual tree giveaway will be happening tomorrow, Thursday April 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Grant Street portico of the City-County building.  This year, 1,000 dogwood saplings will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The tree giveaway was created to help with the TreeVitalize initiative to plant 20,000 trees by the year 2012.  The event is scheduled to coincide with Earth Day, which is Friday.

To see if your yard has the right conditions for a dogwood tree to flourish, check this how-to.  More information is available on this info sheet from a tree help site.

Apply now to get a free tree next fall

If you’re interested in applying to get a free sidewalk tree from the City next fall, it’s time to fill out an application and get it in by the deadline on March 25.  Applications are also available at the PHCA office.

A free tree does come with some responsibilities.  By signing the Tree Planting Request Form, you, the property owner, agree that:

• A representative of the City of Pittsburgh will inspect your location and determine whether it is an appropriate site for a tree(s) to be planted.

• The City shall determine an appropriate tree species for your location.

• If the site requires it, you give permission for a tree pit to be cut in your sidewalk or pavement. (tree pits are required to be 30 square feet — typically, that’s a 3′ x 10′ cut)

• You will water the tree (approximately 20 gallons per week− the cost is less than $1 per year) March through December for two years.

• You will protect your tree from damage by cars, lawn mowers, etc.

• You will notify the City of Pittsburgh if the tree appears to be sick or damaged.

• If you cancel the tree installation after signing this form and the pavement has been cut, you will be responsible for replacing the pavement at your expense.

Applicants should understand that:

• Your request for a tree may be denied—not all sites are appropriate for tree planting.

• Street trees and trees in the public right-of-way are the property and responsibility of the City of Pittsburgh. Trees planted outside of the public right-of-way are the responsibility of the property owner.

• Only the City of Pittsburgh can authorize major pruning or removal of street trees.

Tree distribution is also partially dependent on how many Tree Tenders a neighborhood has — Polish Hill currently has 10.  For more information on trees and tree planting in our area, look on the Western PA Conservancy Treevitalize site, or on the Tree Pittsburgh website.

(Photo:  Polish Hill neighborhood volunteers plant a tree on Melwood Avenue, 2008, photo by Leslie Clague)

Be a Tree Tender

According to the 2005 City of Pittsburgh Street Tree Inventory, the city has approximately 30,000 street trees, and over 3,000 of those trees have been removed due to disease, vandalism or neglect. Thousands more trees are at risk of being removed if they do not receive much needed care. Tree Pittsburgh and the City Forestry Division are working to improve the urban forest, but residents can play an important role in increasing its health and reversing its decline. Tree Pittsburgh tells us —

Tree Pittsburgh is excited to announce the return of their popular Tree Tender Course, with six opportunities to learn more about urban forestry in 2011! Tree Pittsburgh is an environmental non-profit organization protecting and growing our urban forest through tree maintenance, planting, education and advocacy.

Tree Tenders is returning with a full slate of courses, designed to equip you with needed skills in preserving Pittsburgh’s Urban Forest. Several individuals on Polish Hill’s Green Team have already taken the courses and stand ready to do their part in keeping our neighborhood’s trees healthy. There is always room for more, though. There is an overview of what you can expect to be covered in the classes, along with registration for the upcoming courses. Dates and times are below —

Saturday February 26th, 9am-4pm Downtown, Gateway Towers on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard

Wednesdays March 23rd, 30th, April 6th, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh :: 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Center, North Side

Tuesdays May 10th, 17th, 24th, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh :: 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Center, North Side

Saturday June 18th, 9am-4pm
Rothschild Doyno Collaborative :: 2847 Penn Ave, Strip District

Saturday July 16th, 9am-4pm
Rothschild Doyno Collaborative :: 2847 Penn Ave, Strip District

Thursdays, Sept. 8th, 15th, 22nd, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh :: 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Center, North Side

Registration is open now. The cost of the course is $40 and includes materials, a meal at each session, and a t-shirt upon completion. A reduced rate option is available for those on a limited income—Contact Caitlin Lenahan for details at or call 412-362-6360 for more information.

Tree Pittsburgh is partnering with Rothschild Doyno Collaborative and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and all of 2011’s course offerings will be at these locations, with the exception of the first course being held downtown.

Remember to water your new trees!

If you’re one of the residents who received a new tree from the City in the last few years, we hope you’re watering it!  Trees should be watered once a week from spring until the leaves start dropping, and twice a week in droughtlike conditions.

The first two years are the most vulnerable for transplanted trees.  The dry and hot weather we’ve been having is especially hard on younger trees, as their root system is not yet deep enough to get water from further underground.   A good way to water trees is to used one of those 5 gallon buckets with the holes in the bottom that the City dropped off when you got the tree.  It’s also easy to punch some holes in a bucket or large container, then fill and set near base of the tree.  The water will seep in gradually instead of running off.

For more information about tree care, check out this chart from Friends of the Urban Forest, or this information page from TreeVitalize.

The number of free trees a neighborhood can receive is partially dictated by how many Tree Tenders it has.  Polish Hill is almost at the limit.  If you are interested in learning how to become a Tree Tender, pick up a brochure at the PHCA office, or look here.

Farewell, John Metzler

A guest post by Myra Falisz:

Our city lost a talented sculptor, environmental advocate and collaborative artist last Thursday.  John Metzler was founder of Urban Tree Forge, a haven for creative reuse of salvaged wood from locally sourced urban projects or downed trees.  His artistic focus was turning discarded pieces into functional works, from flooring for Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest … to twelve oak-slab tables for the G-20 Summit at Phipps.

John was immersed in Pittsburgh’s art community, inspiring collaboration, engagement and participation.  He was the new president of Pittsburgh’s Society of Sculptors and a juror for this year’s Artists’ Market at Three Rivers Arts Festival.  One of his recent exhibits, Resolutions, featured his original furniture pieces along with works by other artists, including his longtime partner, Randie Snow.

I first met John at a GPAC (Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council) meeting earlier this year.  I was new to the city’s varied arts organizations.  John immediately introduced himself, engaged me in conversation with fellow artisans, and spontaneously invited me to see the Resolutions show nearby.  He was friendly, hardworking and committed to both the arts and the environment.  A feature article about his work appeared just two weeks ago in the Post-Gazette.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest or John’s daughter, Chelsie Mae Metzler.  There will be a tree dedication ceremony in John’s honor on Sunday, May 23rd at 12:00 p.m, Allegheny Commons Park.  Reception to follow at the New Hazlett Theater.

Polish Hill Tree Care Day

Polish Hill Tree Care Day

Saturday Oct. 10th, 9am-noon

Meet at the Polish Hill Civic Association at 3060 Brereton St. to weed, mulch and remove tree stakes from the now year-old trees in Polish Hill. Treats have been promised! Let Don know you are coming:

Do you like trees?

One of our neighbors from Bethoven stopped into the PHCA office today to ask about getting a tree in front of her home through the TreeVitalize program. I’m so glad that she did, because the deadline is coming up really quickly.TreeVitalize is responsible for the new trees that have been planted in Polish Hill over the last two years. From their website

Responding to an alarming trend of the loss of trees in Pennsylvania’s metropolitan areas, TreeVitalize is a public-private partnership to help restore tree cover, educate citizens about planting trees as an act of caring for our environment, and build capacity among local governments to understand, protect and restore their urban trees.

If you are interested in having a tree planted in front of your property, contact us at the Polish Hill Civic Association as soon as possible. You can reach us by phone at 412-681-1950 or by email at You can download a pdf application here.

TreeVitalize also conducts Tree Tender training sessions. The next session begins September 15. You can get more details. here.