In several of our neighborhoods the Board of Directors approved the removal of street trees that were dying or dead as part of our ongoing effort to keep our community looking its best. Obviously, this is a two-step process: removing the trees/preparing the site for the new tree and then planting the replacement. Simple….well, maybe not.
The removal of the trees (13 of them) went pretty well. Then the challenges began…. We contracted with a local company, Colonial Colors, to plant the replacement trees. We knew that the county identifies the placement of trees on the approved plats, but they also indicate the type of tree (linden, oak, maple, etc.). If a tree dies, the county statues say you must replace those with the same species, since most of our streets have a consistent type of tree in order to maintain a cohesive “look” to the neighborhood. The county also requires that street trees be a minimum of 1.5 “calipers” (the diameter of a tree, measured at breast height: 4.5 feet above the soil). This is to better ensure that the tree will survive, since they are a bit more mature than the typical tree you might buy at your local big box store.
We did not have the original plats, so we worked with JCC to find the original plats, then identify the types of trees, since we began this project in the winter after the trees had lost their leaves. It took the county several weeks to locate the plats, then identify the trees. We petitioned the county to reconsider the original linden trees on Town Creek Drive, since the original trees did not do well (we have six to replace, plus two more that will probably not survive this year). The soil on that street is not just heavy clay, like so much of New Town, but very moist and the lindens do not tolerate that much moisture. JCC relented and allowed us to plant red maples, which will complement the remaining lindens.
By the time we got the information and negotiated with JCC, it was near the ideal time to plant trees to enable them to begin to put down roots before the hot season begins in Williamsburg. We gave the green light to Colonial Colors to purchase the replacement trees. Finally, after four months of planning, we were on the way!
But wait—Colonial Colors checked with their regional suppliers, then expanded the search -- they have been unable to find ANY trees available anywhere in Virginia, of the type and size we need. It appears that the COVID pandemic has affected yet another aspect of our society – people stuck at home began to do lots more landscaping and one supplier told us “we have sold three years’ worth of trees in the past nine months.” So, we’ll just wait for trees to grow and mature a bit to reach the 1.5 caliper size…except trees are at a premium and suppliers aren’t willing to leave their stock just sit in their nurseries patiently growing, when other people, not subject to the JCC rules, are willing to buy them NOW.
The Board doesn’t really have a solution for this, yet. We are hopeful that this run on trees will subside as the pandemic gets somewhat more under control and people resume some sense of normalcy in their lives. In the meantime, we have two “holes” waiting for oak trees on Rollison, two for maples on Center, two sycamores on Discovery Park Blvd, and seven red maples on Town Creek Drive. We are concerned about several more trees on Rollison and are waiting a bit to see if they are just late in leafing out.
So, be patient with us and thanks for your concerns.