Ashton Heights Canopy Tree and Native Plants Principles


(approved 1/16/2019)

A. The Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) supports retention, expansion and resident education on the benefits of our tree canopy, with a focus on replacement and expansion and utilization of native trees. 

Ashton Heights’ tree canopy declined from 48.3% in 2008 to 40% in 2016 (the most recent survey). It is apparent that this decline has continued since 2016, but it has not yet  documented or quantified.  Much of the decline is from re-development within the neighborhood.  As individual lots are redeveloped with larger homes, or expansions, our trees are removed one lot at a time.

In order to maintain our neighborhood tree canopy, we must make a concerted effort to retain our large trees, and replant them.  Our large trees are 100+ years old.  It will take 100+ years to replace each of them. See the benefits provided by our urban forest at NOTE(1)

See NOTE (2) for a county wide assessment of Arlington’s tree canopy, which also quantifies the loss in Ashton Heights. Within this document, find a description of tree benefits including clean air, stormwater interception and energy savings. The ecological advantages of planting native plants are documented in and Bringing Nature Home: How you can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy. 2014.

See NOTE(1) for some tips for taking care of our valuable, mature trees.

B. Ashton Heights Civic Association supports the County programs which supply free trees to property owners

  1. Tree Canopy Fund Program.This County grant program provides trees on private property.  Grant recipients are provided a free tree, and each tree is also planted for free.  The trees are 1½” caliper trees that generally are 6-8 feet tall. Once or twice a year, 8-10 different native canopy trees are made available.  The number of trees is a function of the program’s funding.  Priority is given for county priorities.  Application is required; not all applications are accepted.  

Also, the Tree Canopy Fund Program can fund maintenance of County Champion trees which are on private property.  See NOTE (3) below. 

The current Ashton Heights Tree Canopy and Native Species coordinator, Brooke Alexander, is the neighborhood coordinator for the Tree Canopy Fund.  Contact Brooke at to participate in the program. Brooke coordinates the applications, the plantings, and the 2 year oversight. The watering (which is required for 2 years) is on you! Brooke is a member of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN); in having oversight by an ARMN member, priority is given to Ashton Heights’ applicants who go through Ashton Heights. Individuals are also allowed to apply, separately from Ashton Heights.

2. Tree Distribution program.This free annual County tree distribution allows residents one tree per residential property per year.  A variety of native tree species are available each fall.  The available trees are generally termed ‘whips’ in the nursery trade and are in two gallon containers; they range from 2-4 feet in height. There are a finite number of trees made available each year so for the most choice, sign up early.

This sign up is online.  You pick up the tree and you plant it.  Generally, the sign up is early Sept and the pick-up is in late October. For more information, see Tree Distribution Program under NOTE (5) below.

      Brooke Alexander, Ashton Heights Tree Canopy and Native Species coordinator, is available to consult on tree choices with the County Tree Distribution Program and individual homeowner plantings. (

C. Ashton Heights Civic Association supports the planting of native shrubs and groundcovers.

See the values of native shrubs and groundcovers at

D. Ashton Heights Civic Association supports the retention of native trees, shrubs and groundcovers within the county, including the continuing stewardship of Arlington’s parks and natural areas.

E. Ashton Heights Civic Association discourages the planting of non-native invasive species, and encourages replacement of non-native invasive plants with native plants. 

Note from Arlington’s Nature Resources Manager: “While up to 40% of the plants found in a typical urban environment are non-native species, a relatively small number of these “alien” plants are known to represent an ecological threat to the natural environment (parks, woodlands, and backyards). Known as “invasive species”, these non-natives will spread from urban plantings into natural areas, eliminate native species, alter natural plant communities, and degrade the environment.”

See the list of non-native invasive species in Arlington County at NOTE (6). These species are prohibited from use in County projects.  Native plant alternatives for Arlington are documented at

F. Ashton Heights Civic Association has coordinated with Dominion Energy regarding tree trimming along the utility right-of-way. See NOTE(7) below for background


NOTE (1). Arlington Trees Make a Difference! Our Urban Forest’s Measurable Benefits. Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation.  Vincent Verweij, Acting Urban Forest Manager.  Undated.  See at:

Here are some tips for taking care of our valuable mature trees. (from Arlington County Champion Trees 2007-2008 under NOTE(3)).  

Watering.  In dry periods, even mature trees need to be watered.  A thorough soaking once a week is much better than frequent, but light applications of water.

Invasive Plants.  Keep English ivy and other invasive plants away from trees.  (see more info on invasive plants at NOTE(6).)

Pruning.  Trees need their branches and leaves, and should be pruned only for good reason.  When mature trees require pruning, hire a tree care firm with a certified arborist to do the work.  Note that responsible tree crews use ropes to lift themselves up into a tree; they never use spikes to climb living trees.

Avoid topping. Topping cuts off large branches and leaves stubs.  It is an extreme form of pruning that severely damages trees, making them vulnerable to insects and disease.  Trees should not be topped.  When it is necessary to limit the height or spread of a tree because it is close to buildings or utility lines, there are alternatives to topping. Engage an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified Arborist, or a Consulting Arborist (American Society of Consulting Arborists) to help you best support your tree. A list of ISA Certified Arborists can be found at  Consulting arborists can be found at

NOTE(2). Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. Arlington County, Virginia.  December 2017.  Prepared for Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. By Davey Resource Group.  See at:

NOTE(3). Arlington Champion, and Notable Trees

A Champion tree is the largest example of its species in the County (and sometimes the state!):

Arlington has identified and registered its most Notable trees.  As of 2/2019, since the program start in 1987, 332 trees have been named in the county.  More information on these Notable trees and the application form for identifying your tree as Notable is here:

See a map of Arlington’s Champion, Notable and Specimen trees!

NOTE(4). Arlington Specimen Trees

As of February 2019, there are 17 privately owned and 9 publicly owned Specimen trees that have been nominated by the County Board.  Specimen trees are protected from removal or injury through the County’s Tree Preservation Ordinance.  See more information on these Specimen trees and the application form for identifying your tree as Specimen here:

NOTE(5). Arlington County Tree Planting Programs

Tree canopy Fund program:

Tree distribution program:

NOTE(6). Document identifying non-native trees, shrubs, and ground covers that are invasive in Arlington County, from Arlington’s Natural Resource Manager, 11/13/2018.


While up to 40% of the plants found in a typical urban environment are non-native species, a relatively small number of these “alien” plants are known to represent an ecological threat to the natural environment (parks, woodlands, and backyards). Known as “invasive species”, these non-natives will spread from urban plantings into natural areas, eliminate native species, alter natural plant communities, and degrade the environment. The following plants have been documented as invasive species in Arlington. Known invasive plant species should not be planted as part of any Arlington County sponsored project. This list will be periodically reviewed by the Invasive Plant Coordinator (PRCR) and updated by Version (date) (sic).  

Invasive Plant Species List 

Akebia, Five-leaf  Akebia quinata 
Autumn Olive  Elaeagnus umbellata 
Bamboo  Bambusa sp. 
Bamboo  Phyllostachys sp. 
Bamboo  Pseudosasa sp. 
Barberry, Japanese  Berberis thunbergii 
Beefsteak Plant  Perilla frutescens 
Burning Bush  Euonymus alata 
Cherry, Weeping (Higan)  Prunus subhirtella 
Cherry, Yoshino  Prunus yedoensis 
Chinese Silvergrass  Miscanthus sinensis 
Clematis, Sweet Autumn  Clematis ternifolia 
Common Reed  Phragmites australis 
Crabapple, Japanese  Malus floribunda 
Crabapple, Siberian  Malus baccata 
Crabapple, Tea  Malus hupehensis 
Daffodil  Narcissus sp. 
Day Lily, Common  Hemerocallis fulva 
Elaeagnus, Thorny   Elaeagnus pungens 
Euonymus, Creeping  Euonymus fortunei 
Garlic Mustard  Alliaria petiolata 
Golden Rain Tree  Koelrenteria paniculata      * 
Gooseberry, Alien  Ribes sp. 
Ground Ivy  Glechoma hederacea 
Holly, Japanese  Ilex crenata 
Honeysuckle, Bush  Lonicera maackii 
Honeysuckle, Bush  Lonicera morrowii 
Honeysuckle, Japanese  Lonicera japonica 
Hops, Japanese  Humulus japonicus 
Indian Strawberry  Duchesnea indica 
Italian Arum  Arum italica 
Ivy, English  Hedera helix 
Japanese Stiltgrass  Microstegium vimineum 
Java Dropwort  Oenanthe javanica 
Jetbead  Rhodotypos scandens 
Jointgrass, Hairy  Arthraxon hispidus 
Knotweed, Japanese  Polygonum cuspidatum 
Kudzu  Pueraria montana 
Lesser Celendine  Ranunculus ficaria 
Lily-turf, Grassy  Liriope graminifolia       ** 
Liriope, Creeping  Liriope spicata 
Mahonia, Leatherlfeaf  Mahonia bealei 
Maple, Japanese  Acer palmatum 
Maple, Norway  Acer platanoides 
Mile-A-Minute-Weed  Persicaria perfoliata (Poly.  perfoliatum) 
Mimosa  Albizia julibrissin 
Mock Orange  Philadelphus sp. 
Money Plant  Lunaria annua 
Mulberry, White  Morus alba 
Multi-flora Rose  Rosa multiflora 
Orchid, Helleborine  Epipictis helleborine 
Oriental Bittersweet  Celastrus orbiculatus 
Pachysandra  Pachysandra terminalis 
Pear, Bradford  Pyrus calleryana 
Pearlwort  Sagina procumbens 
Periwinkle  Vinca minor 
Phellodendron  Phellodendron amurense 
Porcelainberry  Ampelopsis brevipedunculata 
Princess Tree  Paulownia tomentosa 
Privet, Border  Ligustrum obtusifolium 
Privet, Chinese  Ligustrum sinensis 
Privet, European  Ligustrum vulgare 
Privet, Japanese  Ligustrum japonicum 
Purple Loosestrife  Lythrum salicaria 
Rose of Sharon  Hibiscus syriacus 
Tree of Heaven  Ailanthus altissima 
Viburnum, Double-file  Viburnum plicatum var.  tomentosum 
Viburnum, Linden  Viburnum dilatatum 
Viburnum, Tea  Viburnum setigerum 
Wineberry  Rubus phoenicolasius 
Wisteria, Chinese  Wisteria sinensis  
Wisteria, Japanese  Wisteria floribunda 
Yam, Chinese  Dioscorea oppositifolia 

*  Do not plant in close proximity to forested areas or woodland edges. 

**  Plant only in confined garden beds and avoid park entryways or woodland edges  

Please note that the plants listed above are known to be invasive locally. Additional plant species may be documented as invasive in other locales or represent potential invasive species. A number of public agencies, universities, and conservation non-profits are currently documenting and tracking the spread of non-native invasive species across the country. As field research continues, the number of identified invasive species will increase. In order to ensure that the use of invasive species is avoided, a number of data sources are available for vetting purposes. The following PDF files and internet links are considered reliable information resources: 

  • Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (DCR)  
  • Terrestrial Invasive Plants of the Potomac River Watershed – Nature Conservancy.  
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States – Center for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia.  
  • Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council.  
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England.  
  • Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council.  

NOTE(7).  Brian Knightley, Arlington County Deputy Division Chief –Environmental Operations and Planning provided the following information on the conflict of trees and power lines.

Conflicts between overhead utilities is a constant concern in Arlington due to the restricted space that utilities share with our street trees.  Public utilities have easements which grant their personnel, as well as their tree trimming contractors, right of ingress and egress, as it relates to providing safe and reliable power within their rights-of-way. Utilities do not need resident consent to trim trees within the utility rights-of-way, and they do not need to give notification either.  However, Dominion claims to give a courtesy notice to residents by mail when conducting routine vegetation management along distribution lines.  Typically, this notice is attached to the bill header, or sometimes is a stand-alone document (so, if renter occupied, the owner would not receive this courtesy notice).  Arlington County has no jurisdictional powers to enforce notifications by public utilities under the current regulations governed by the Virginia SCC.  

According to Mr. Knightley, in order to deal with specific actions regarding Dominion’s tree trimming contractors, County Parks have a courtesy agreement with Dominion to coordinate tree trimming and vegetation management actions.

In response to problems AHCA citizens have had in some instances with Dominion contractors regarding tree trimming on their property, in the summer of 2018 AHCA formally dialogued with Scott Reamy, External Affairs Manager, Corporate Public Policy. Dominion Energy Services, Inc O:571-203-5001. Mr Reamy agreed to provide notice to every affected Ashton Heights house (by leaving notice on the door knob) and to include a Dominion phone number for the property owner or representative to call in the event the tree contractor is doing (or about to do) anything that is not in-line with what the property owner desires. 

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