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Tree Forum 2023_edited.jpg

2023 State of the Trees Forum

Chartwell Community Association Event


Tree Care and Maintenance Panel Discussion

September 28, 2023, 7:00 pm, St. Andrews Clubhouse


Moderator: Wendy Irminger, Chartwell Community Association Board Member


Keynote Speaker: Don VanHassent, (Retired) Maryland State Forester


  • Trees are the best land cover for improving air quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

  • Property values in communities with trees are 20-30% higher.

  • Maryland has a fairly significant forest industry and everything we do or don’t do has an impact.

  • Maryland has 160 species of trees; 15-16 species of Oak.

  • Threats to forests: #1 is development; fire destroys approximately 6,000 acres of forest per year; and the introduction of non-native, invasive species and pests such as Lantern Flies due to globalization.

  • Presently, approximately 50% of Maryland has tree cover. It is defined as ‘tree canopy’ (3.1 mil. acres) or ‘forest’ (2.5 mil. acres) with the former including the latter. Land defined as ‘Forest’ can be managed, at some point.


Panelists: Jonathan Cowherd, Bartlett Tree Experts; Chris Sherwood, The Davey Tree Expert Company; Matthew Derrick, Prestige Tree Experts; John McDeshen, Tall Tree Service


Questions and Answers:




Q: Why are Oak trees suddenly dying and can it be stopped?

A:  For the past 10 years, the Chestnut Oak has been in decline, wood borers are one cause. Starting 5 years ago, noticed decline in Oaks, in general. Chartwell has mostly the Southern Red Oak specie, which is more hardy. Healthy trees can combat most pests. Pin Oaks can suffer from a bacterial infection. When you see saw dust flying out of a tree, it’s too late as it may have been stricken by the Ambrosia Beetle, which also turns leaves brown all of a sudden. Other reasons trees die: soil compaction due to development; septic systems traumatize trees; root zone disturbance. For more information, visit:


Q: Where should I start to care for my trees?  We just moved to the East coast from a desert state! 

A:  Call an Arborist to identify any tree hazards, defects, or pests. Get on a 2-4 year routine pruning schedule. Perform a soil test.


Q: What are the best species of trees for their “high habitat value”? Which to avoid?

A:  Oaks are the best (see next answer). Avoid Bradford Pear (as they break) and Tree of Heaven (as they attract Spotted Lantern Flies) and non-native species.


Q: If I had room to plant one tree for the benefit of future generations, what would you recommend?

A: White Oak, Sycamore, Red Maple (hardwoods).  Always chose a native specie.

Others to consider as they are robust and can tolerate sandy soil: Shingle Oak, Willow Oak, Over Cup Oak. Chartwell has clay-based sandy soils. Evergreens that do well are Cryptomeria, Giant Green Arborvitae (which can grow 3’ per year), American Holly, Red Cedar, False Cypress.


Q: What is the proper way to mulch around trees?  Is there any way to reverse the impacts of “mulch volcanos” around trees?

A: Mulch should be no more than 2” deep and never cover the flare of at the base of the trunk; never mound mulch around the trunk. Mulch to the drip line. Buy local mulch, e.g. Chesapeake Landscape Materials, no dyes. Don’t let it compact as the roots of the tree need oxygen to penetrate the soil. Remove “mulch volcanos.”


Q: What should I look for in a quality professional?   Or, can I let my handy friend get on a ladder and saw a few branches?

A: A professional will know how to prune. They won’t create lollipop trees. Any trimming is considered invasive. You want branches to cover 2/3 of the tree trunk.


Q: Should the suckers growing from Oak tree trunks be pruned?

A: Not necessarily. The suckers grow because the tree needs more leaves to photosynthesize. Could be sign of stress or ‘the last hurrah.’


Q: How much space around Oak trees should be protected from digging and mowing?

A: The formula is 6” from trunk for every 2” of tree circumference.


Q: We apply lime to our lawn, close to our trees. Do lime applications harm Oak trees?

A: No.


Q: We have root knobs at the base of a tree. What is this?

A: This means there is likely soil compaction or Iron Stone underground preventing the root from going deep or settling. Iron Stone is all over this area.


Q: Are there any trees/shrubs to avoid planting and/or remove if we have them?

A: Bradford Pears (weak), Tree of Heaven (attracts Lantern Flies), Blue Spruce (?).


Q: Can you plant a small tree and then move it?

A: Transplanting is not ideal. Try to plant new trees outside the drip line of existing trees.


Q: What is the average lifespan of an Oak tree?

A: The lifespan of an Oak is 200-400 years, depending on the specie. (The Wye Oak lived 465 years!) The AVERAGE life span is 100 years.


Q: Generally, how old are the Oaks in Chartwell?

A:  80-100 years (Many trees could date from when this area transitioned from the Kinder family farm, agriculture to residential.)


Q: Do we need to begin planning to regenerate the Oak ‘forest’ in our community?

A: Yes. “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.”


Q: What’s is the best/easiest local (free) resource to learn more about trees in our area and tree health?

A: Three good sources of information are:

  • University of Maryland Extension Service

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

  • Department of Agriculture (insect pests)

  • Anne Arundel County, Watershed Stewards,

  • Tree Troopers Program


Plant Diseases and Invasive Species


Q: Scale has attacked the neighborhood Crepe Myrtles.  How can we prevent it and how do treat it?

A: Spray with a solution of Dawn dish soap and water. There are Good Bugs! Every Arborist knows an applicator who could apply a systemic insecticide, Permathirin (sp?), a chemical with Diazanon, or a broad spectrum insecticide. It’s not easy to apply to plants that flower year-round.


Q: How can we protect our trees from the Spotted Lantern Fly?

A: Early detection and squashing them whenever possible. Suggested “Don’t Bug Me” or spray with Dawn dish soap/water solution.


Q:  What can be done to remove the existing invasive species on and around our trees, such as English Ivy, Bittersweet, Green Briar, Virginia Creeper? 

A: Cut the vine from the trunk at knee height and at chest height. Pull off tree what you can. (After note: they will regrow so some would recommend applying specific herbicides to the base of the tree, but not without a professional or it might kill the tree.)  For ways to help the County’s effort, visit:


Q: This spring-early spring- my huge oak tree began dropping leaves as if it were autumn. The leaves all were curled with black edges. They appeared to be coming off the lower branches. (One person noticed a huge number of immature acorns that fell in August/September.) Checking the internet, we began using a “deep watering” system. We did nothing else, since this may have been a one time event.

            A.  Why was this?

            B.  Does it suggest a sick or dying tree?

            C.  Should I do something, proactively? 

A: Trees, especially young trees, need water and this past year had drought conditions. Trees have cycles. Throughout the region there has been a bumper-crop of acorns this year. That said, Bacterial Leaf Scorch could be the issue, but that is mostly due to soil compaction. An Arborist could diagnose the problem, if it persists.





Q: Right now I have 10 trees in my backyard marked with blue ribbons. These trees are in danger because of the proposed bike trail on Jumpers Hole Road. There are about a dozen homes with similar blue ribbons. That's a huge loss for the canopy.


  1. Why can’t AACo be conservative in digging and save the tree roots and not damage mature, healthy trees? 

  2. Why does the path need to be 8 feet wide? 

  3. Who can I contact to help me save these trees? 


A: For clarification, are these trees actually in the County’s easement on your property or in the right-of way for Jumpers Hole Road? Generally, the County would not remove trees on private property. It is important to note that planning and design of such projects occurs many years, often decades, in advance of actual construction and it is during those phases when citizens have the most influence. For more information on the planning and design of this project, you may want to contact County staff with expertise in road improvements/construction (ask if there is any deviation possible from this road improvement that necessitates tree removal), bike/pedestrian trail planning (is the 8’ width a regulation and whether the trail could go around the trees), or woodland conservation (to ensure best practices are being used). Call the Region 4  planner to start: (410) 222-7432

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