Tysons, VA

As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year approaches, it may be time to throw out your old Christmas trees and greenery.

For most Fairfax County residents, live Christmas trees that are less than eight feet tall will be collected curbside in single-family and townhouse communities on regular trash collection days between Jan. 11 and 22.

Residents may schedule a brush pickup for a tree removal after Jan. 22.

Fairfax County residents can also drop off their trees at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex. There is a $7 recycling fee per tree at the recycling centers, and all decorations and stands must be separated before disposing of trees.

The Town of Vienna will collect trees and brush on regularly scheduled collection days through January. Decorations, tinsel, ornaments, and other trimming should be removed from the trees before setting them out for collection. Trees should also not be bagged.

The City of Falls Church will collects Christmas trees free of charge on Wednesdays throughout January and February. The city advises placing trees at the curb within the first two weeks of January “to ensure speedy collection.”

Plastic bags, rope, and all decorations, including tinsel, should be removed.

For people looking for alternatives to disposing of their holiday greenery, the National Christmas Tree Association provides some other options:

  • Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management.
  • Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
  • Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.
  • Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.
  • Paths for hiking trails: Some counties use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.
  • Living, rooted trees: Get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and plant it in your yard. (It’s a good idea to dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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With Thanksgiving over and Christmas music on the airwaves debate-free, local nonprofits and nurseries are starting their annual sales of Christmas trees and other holiday greenery.

People getting into the festive spirit can choose from many local organizations, which will use the money to fund everything from scholarships and Boy Scout Troop outings to youth ministry programs and community health programming.

Trinity United Methodist Church in McLean (1205 Dolley Madison Blvd) kicked off its sales right after Thanksgiving Day, and they will continue through mid-December. The sales benefit Trinity youth ministries and Boy Scout Troop 869.

Hours for the sales vary depending on the day:

  • Thursday & Friday: 4-6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12-5 p.m.

St. John Academy in McLean (6422 Linway Terrace) is launching its Christmas tree sales this Thursday (Dec. 3). A tree lot will be set up in the school’s lower-level parking lot through Dec. 20.

Trees start at $50, and garlands and wreaths are also available. Sale hours are 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Optimist Club of Greater Virginia is selling Christmas trees, wreathes, roping, and tree stands at the corner of Maple Avenue and Branch Road near PNC Bank and Giant in Vienna. Weekday hours go from 4-8 p.m., and weekend hours are from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Tree sales fund awards, scholarships, and honoraria for students from James Madison, George Marshall, and Oakton High Schools, as well as their school pyramid, scout troops, sports teams and youth groups, according to the Vienna Business Association website.

The Vienna Lions Club has Fraser Firs for sale with costs ranging from $65 to $115. The club will also be selling wreaths, ropage and related holiday goods in the Walgreens parking lot at 225 Maple Ave.

Hours are:

  • Weekdays: 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to its website, the Vienna Lions Club expects items to be gone before Dec. 13.

“We will remain open until we sell out,” the club said. “We anticipate a strong and brisk tree sale and remind our loyal customers of just how quickly our inventory can diminish.”

Proceeds from the sale benefit local, national, and international LIONS Sight and Hearing Foundation activities, along with several organizations, community, and individual betterment activities.

Local nurseries in Fairfax County have also decked out their socially distanced halls with greenery to buy.

In Vienna, shoppers can stop by DePaul’s Urban Farm (2599 Chain Bridge Rd) for trees and a holiday market.

The Merrifield Christmas shop looks more spread out this year to allow for safe social distancing, but it is still offering the same selection of Christmas decor, plants, and greens.

Orders must be placed before arriving at one of the store’s three locations in Falls Church, Fair Oaks, and Gainsville. Once shoppers arrive at the loading station, they can remain in their vehicles while staff loads their purchases.

Meadows Farms has trees, poinsettias and wreaths galore, with locations in Chantilly, Falls Church, Annandale, Vienna and Herndon, and 16 other shops. It also has an online library with decorating tips and care instructions.

If you know of any other location, please let Tysons Reporter know!

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Autumn is approaching and the Vienna Community Center is hosting a native plant event this weekend.

From 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 12), people can gather at the Vienna Community Center (120 SE Cherry Street) to buy a variety of fall-friendly plants, learn how to make rain barrels, educate themselves about stormwater and participate in other activities, according to the event flyer.

Hill House Nursery will be on site with perennials, shrubs and trees, the flyer said.

“The plants we offer are chosen for their aesthetic qualities, their durability, their vigor, and their wildlife benefits,” according to the nursery’s website.

For people who want to pre-order greenery, pickup will be available as well at the event. Those interested can email Hill House Nursery.

To keep everyone safe, event organizers ask that attendees wear face-masks, refrain from touching merchandise before purchasing and practice social distancing.

Photo via Hill House Farm and Nursery/ Facebook

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Church Street is currently closed in Vienna for emergency tree work, the town announced on social media.

The town announced this morning that Church Street between Glyndon Street and Beulah Road will be closed today (Tuesday) for up to three hours starting at 9 a.m.

The town also said that “several other tree and maintenance projects will impact travel this week,” including:

  • Removal and replanting of trees in the Nutley Street median tomorrow will temporarily close the southbound lane closest to the median
  • Mulch spreading in flower beds will close a lane on Maple Avenue from 6-10 p.m. tomorrow
  • Tree removal will close westbound lanes on Maple Avenue between Follin Lane NE and East Street NE from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday

Town Arborist Gary Lawrence said that the work on Nutley Street tomorrow will include the removal of 11 “dead or severely decayed” trees between Marshall Road and Maple Avenue.

The work is expected to take three days ahead of replanting on March 9, which will take approximately four business days.

“The trees being removed are lindens and one Bradford pear,” the arborist said. “The species being replanted include willow oaks, lacebark elm, and pistache. These trees have proven to be highly tolerant of environmental conditions similar to those along Nutley Street.”

As for the work tree removal on Maple Avenue on Friday, the town plans to take out a black locust tree that has “an extensive crack at its base, which has compromised its structural integrity,” according to the Facebook post.

Map via Google Maps 

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The Vienna Town Council recently revisited the idea of installing new sidewalks within three neighborhoods.

After a former councilmember Maud Robinson donated a chunk of money in her will for the town to build sidewalks, the Town Council is now evaluating how they can respect her wishes and improve town infrastructure.

During the meeting on Monday (Feb. 24), the Town Council discussed proposed sidewalks would be installed on:

  • Plum Street SW between Cottage Street SW to Tapawingo Road,
  • Cabin Road SE between Branch Road SE and Glyndon Street SE
  • Holmes Drive NW between John Marshall Drive and Upham Place NW

Currently, only 50% of the homeowners on Homes Drive and Plum Street have responded to a request for input on the subject, but councilmembers said they would like at least a 75% response rate.

“I feel better knowing the majority of people are in favor of the decision,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said, adding that before things move forward, it would be best for town staffers to try new methods to get feedback from homeowners along the proposed routes.

From the feedback received so far from residents, some are concerned over disruption to foliage and trees that would be in the way of the sidewalks.

Councilmember Douglas Noble mentioned that homeowners don’t have control over town-owned easement property on the outskirts of a lot, but added it was determined that the public works department has ways of building the sidewalks without disrupting or killing the trees in the direct path.

During public comment at the meeting, two parents expressed support for the sidewalks and voiced concerns about their kids’ safety.

“A tree can be replanted… I wanna put that in perspective,” a father of two young daughters said. “You can’t replace a child if she gets hit by a car. A 62- year-old maple tree doesn’t matter — my kids matter.”

The man also shared the importance of this project for several families who have recently moved into the neighborhood around Cabin Road.

“I cannot believe we are spending this much time talking about sidewalks, but it’s a democracy at its finest,” he said.

A mother also came up to the podium and shared how she makes her kids FaceTime her after they get off the school bus to ensure their walk home goes smoothly.

She said that she often sees cars speeding down Cabin Road — coming too close to her kids on an unprotected road shoulder for comfort.

After public feedback, the Town Council passed a motion at the meeting to prepare design sidewalk plans on Plum Street, Cabin Road and John Marshall Drive.

Going forward, town representatives will begin preparing sidewalk designs and finish gathering feedback from homeowners in the area. Councilmembers also passed a motion saying design plans shouldn’t cost more than $500,000.

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated 2/13/2020) A bill that would let the Town of Vienna have unique tree canopy requirements has passed the Virginia House of Delegates.

Del. Mark Keam’s (D-35th) bill would let the town require developers to plant bigger trees so that they grow faster.

Keam told Tysons Reporter that he’s been trying to get different versions of this bill passed for about four years ever since town officials considered tree conservation on their legislative agenda a few years ago.

“I’ve had some luck in moving the needle,” Keam said about his latest attempt.

Keam said the bill was originally going to be in a larger package of tree-related bills in the House of Delegates. “Mine escaped,” he said.

While Keam said that he’s heard about the backlash Wawa received from some residents for chopping down trees it wasn’t supposed to in the town, he said that the Wawa incident did not influence the bill.

Still, Keam said he’s “not surprised” about the backlash and that he hears complaints “all the time” about developments’ impact on trees.

Keam said that the bill would put bigger trees in the ground so that the tree canopy requirements are met sooner. The bill is meant to improve the aesthetics and stormwater management in the town, he said.

“We are very proud of our trees,” Keam said, mentioning Vienna’s history as a “Tree City USA.”

The Virginia House passed the bill with bipartisan support yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 11). Three Republican legislators voted “nay,” while 95 legislators voted in support.

Keam said that he believes the bill’s opponents thought it gave a local government too much power over developers and could have a negative economic impact on home builders.

“I am concerned that the requirement may have a negative impact on efforts to provide affordable housing,” Del. Mark Cole (R-88th) told Tysons Reporter for why he voted against the bill.

Since the bill affects a specific locality, it will need two-thirds approval to pass in the Senate. A Senate version of the bill from State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-34th) was most recently in the Committee on Local Government.

Tysons Reporter reached out to Petersen’s office to find out when the bill might head to the Senate floor for a vote and will provide an update when more information is available.

“I’m hoping it survives,” Keam said about the bill’s prospects in the Senate.

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Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) has introduced a House bill that would let the Town of Vienna require developers to meet tree requirements 10 years sooner than other jurisdictions.

His proposal, which was filed last Monday (Jan. 6), comes months after Wawa received backlash from residents for chopping down trees it wasn’t supposed to in the Town of Vienna.

Vienna officials are currently working on a plan to prevent anything similar from happening again.

The bill would allow:

the Town of Vienna, by ordinance, to require that a subdivision or development provide for the preservation or replacement of trees on the development site such that the minimum tree canopy 10 years after development is projected to meet specified coverage criteria.”

Currently, the criteria apply to coverage 20 years after development.

The measure has been referred to the Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns.

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Still have a holiday tree and wondering what to do with it? Here’s where and how to recycle it if you live in the Tysons area.

Christmas tree recycling rules vary depending on where people live. Here’s information for residents in Fairfax County, the Town of Vienna and the City of Falls Church.

Fairfax County 

Fairfax County will be recycling Christmas trees less than 8 feet tall for the first two weeks of January. Residents are asked to place the trees outside their single family house or townhouse community.

Have a fake tree? People can drop them off at the donation stations at the the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex.

For $7, Fairfax County residents also can drop off their trees the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex.

City of Falls Church 

Little City residents can have their Christmas trees collected from the curb on Wednesdays in January and February — although the city urges residents to do so during the first two weeks of January.

For people in apartments or condos, their trees can get recycled at the brush collection area at the Fairfax County Citizens’ Disposal and Recycling Facility (4618 W. Ox Road) in Fairfax.

Town of Vienna 

The Town of Vienna will collect Christmas trees curb-side on collection days this month.

Tip: People looking to recycle their trees should first remove all decorations, tinsel, bags and rope.

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Local Student Heading to London Parade — “Emma [W.], a sophomore and varsity cheerleader from George Mason High School, is one of more than 800 high school cheerleaders from across the U.S. who will be representing Varsity Spirit in the world-famous London New Year’s Day Parade.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Hotel Sold in Falls Church — “The Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park has traded hands for $52.2 million, more than $40 million less than what it sold for nearly a decade ago.” [Washington Business Journal]

How to Get Rid of Holiday Trees — “When you got the tree, what condition it was in at that time and how much it was watered factor into when you should take the tree to the curb. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue recommends getting rid of trees immediately or when they get dry.” [Patch]

FCPS Students Soon Able to Take Day Off to Protest — “Beginning Jan. 27, 2020 students in seventh through 12th grades will be permitted one excused absence each school year to engage in ‘civic engagement activities,’ according to Lucy Caldwell, school spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools.” [WTOP]

Registration Opens Today for Little City Outdoor Classes — “Registration for Recreation & Parks Winter/Spring 2020 classes opens on Monday, December 30 for City of Falls Church residents.” [City of Falls Church/Twitter]

Photo courtesy Bill Johnson

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After Wawa chopped down trees it wasn’t supposed to, Town of Vienna officials want to create a plan to prevent anything similar happening again.

Town Manager Mercury Payton told the Vienna Town Council on Monday (Dec. 9) that a committee is working “to identify more efficient communication with residents about construction incidents.”

The town announced last month that Wawa’s actions were a result of “misunderstanding and human error.” The loss of the trees sparked an uproar among locals — what Councilmember Steve Potter called an “extremely emotional” incident at the Monday meeting.

Payton apologized to both the residents who live behind the Wawa site and all of the residents in the town.

“I feel awful about the fact that the town played a role in initiating the action that Wawa took in removing the trees,” Payton said.

Payton told the councilmembers that the town’s urban arborist told Wawa about the health of the trees that Wawa eventually cut — even though they were not included in the approved site plan.

“It is in my view that if the town urban arborist had not brought the matter up to Wawa, Wawa would not have brought the trees down,” Payton said. “They would have stuck to the site plan and the issue would not have occurred.”

Payton said that the arborist should have advised Wawa that a site plan change was necessary, but that, ultimately, the site plan is Wawa’s responsibility.

Payton later said the arborist did not do anything incorrectly when pressed by Councilmember Pasha Majdi about the roles and responsibilities of the arborist.

“I don’t think the best way to run this town is to say that someone should have done something that they are not tasked with doing and it’s not required and it’s not explicated to that staffer,” Majdi said.

“From our perspective, we try to go above and beyond,” Payton responded.

Currently, the town’s departments each manage their own communication with residents about projects, Payton said. The internal review is meant to identify how the departments can follow a unified communication plan.

Several councilmembers expressed support for the internal review, including Councilmember Douglas Noble, who requested to see the outcome of the committee’s findings and recommendations.

“I always like to see what the problem is first… and then work forward,” Noble said.

“The trees are dead. They aren’t alive,” Potter said. “There are a lot of trees that this could happen to again.”

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