Trees need more love than you might think

Photo courtesy Caitlin Lenahan and the Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest
Photo courtesy Caitlin Lenahan and the Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest

Did you know that young trees need 40 gallons of water per week?

“A lot of people seem to forget that trees need water,” said Caitlin Lenahan, the Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest’s education and outreach coordinator.

If you are one of those people, perhaps you should consider taking the organization’s Tree Tender course this month.  The $40 cost covers course materials, three dinners (that’s right, they feed you before they try to teach you anything), a T-shirt and an official Tree Tender card.  Plus, after 8 hours of volunteer work, they give you a set of pruners.  Scholarships are also available.

This month’s course, the last of the season, takes place at the Riverview Park Activities Building in Riverview Park on Sept. 16, 23 and 30.  Each class runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., but because they give you dinner to start with, Caitlin said actual instruction starts around 6 p.m.

Aside from learning how many gallons of water trees need, students will learn a brief history of the Pittsburgh urban forest, basic tree biology and identification, pests and diseases, how to plant a tree, how to care for a tree, pruning basics and more.  The organization also holds occasional workshops for its Tree Tenders so they can further their tree care abilities.

“The benefit of taking [the class] is knowing how to care for trees, so the trees planted on our streets have a better chance for survival,” Caitlin said.

The city requires a permit to care for public trees, but since Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest has one of those permits, all Tree Tenders are covered as long as they’re working as a part of the organization.  Which they want to do, since Friends provides tools and mulch and will haul away dead branches and debris at the end of every Tree Care Day.  Tree Tenders are in charge of organizing these events, but Friends is always there to help them and give them what they need to ensure the health of the trees in their neighborhoods.

There is a Tree Care Day in Troy Hill on Sept. 11, from 9 a.m. to noon.  All volunteers are welcome to come help out, and it’s a good way to test the waters to see if you want to become a Tree Tender.  For more information, contact Sally Joe Gruzik at

To register for the Tree Tender course, call 412-362-6360 or register online at

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