Burlington Community Tree Nursery

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The Burlington Community Tree Nursery was established by Branch Out Burlington! (BOB!) in 1998 to provide a sustained source of low-cost trees to plant along Burlington’s streets and in the parks. It is a public/private partnership with the Burlington Department of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront. Every spring we plant over 120 bare-root saplings (5-8 ft tall) purchased from a commercial nursery. The trees are planted into special cloth “grow bags” that support healthy root growth and discourage stem-girdling roots. This growing system concentrates the root system within the bag and facilitates transplanting.

The annual tree planting day is a festive event which attracts 70-80 volunteers of all ages. Music is often provided by local musicians and a troupe of folk dancers often make an appearance. Refreshments are served with the work is done and everyone goes home with a door prize.

kids_plantingWith help from volunteers, we tend the trees with regular fertilizing, mulching, weeding and pruning and lots of tender loving care. Student volunteers from local colleges and universities, as well as middle and high schools help in the nursery each year. We also host monthly weeding bees during the summer to encourage sustained public participation in the nursery. Each April volunteers dig up the trees that are large enough to make the move to their final growing site. The Burlington Parks Department transplants them in public spaces around the city to fill the thousands of empty spaces waiting for a tree. Each year we supply the city with over 100 trees to expand our urban forest.

The tree species we select to plant change every year depending on what type of trees are needed by the city. The city arborist maintains a record of Burlington’s city trees in the Street Tree Planting Plan. Care is taken to ensure that the trees are suited to Burlington’s climatic conditions, and fit into the spaces. Because the greenbelt (the space between the road and sidewalk) where many of the trees are planted is often narrow, trees need to be upright growing trees. In places where there are telephone wires, tree species that don’t grow over 30-40 ft must be planted. Sadly, many of the trees we select are not native species because these are often prone to insect or disease damage or are not tolerant of the harsh growing conditions that exist along Burlington’s streets. For example, sugar maple, a shallow-rooting species, is extremely sensitive to salt, and would not survive in the compacted street-side soils.

The nursery is located on land contributed by the University of Vermont at the Horticulture Research Center on Green Mountain Drive in South Burlington. Personnel from the Center assist with preparing the planting beds, digging the holes and providing the irrigation system.

How Can You Get A Tree from the Nursery?

Want a tree planted in the greenbelt in front of your house or business in Burlington? We are always looking for suitable places to plant trees in Burlington, where people will give them simple care to help them thrive. The Tree Keeper Program was established by Branch Out Burlington! to link the nursery trees and people with space in Burlington’s greenbelt in front of their home or business. If the greenbelt is too narrow, the city can arrange an easement so a tree can be planted in the front yard. If you are interested in having a tree planted in front of your home, visit the Tree Keeper page to learn more.

Interested in being part of the Greening of Burlington? Contact Margaret Skinner, 802-656-5440, or email: Margaret Skinner

If you would you like to make a donation to support the nursery, send checks (made out the Branch Out Burlington) to Margaret Skinner, 93 Howard Street, Burlington, VT 05401. And for the person with everything, consider making a gift to the nursery in honor of your friend (see the Give-A-Tree program for details).