ReTree Schenectady is a non-profit organization dedicated to the planting, care, and conservation of current and future generations of trees in the City of Schenectady. Our goals are achieved by fostering community involvement through education and collaboration with local organizations and businesses.
ReTree Schenectady Past and Present
ReTree Schenectady was founded in 1991 by concerned citizens. The group was motivated by the loss of trees in Schenectady due to aging, disease, and injury. Since its founding in 1991, ReTree Schenectady has facilitated the planting of over 3,500 trees, trained volunteers to plant and maintain trees, participated in community events to educate the public regarding tree planting and care, and developed a 2003 Tree Master Plan for the City of Schenectady. Volunteers from Union College, Schenectady High School, local churches and businesses, and numerous neighborhood associations have participated in planting days over the years.
Currently, ReTree Schenectady is supporting the City of Schenectady in the implementation of the 2022 Community Forest management Plan.
Recommended Tree Species
If planting under utility wires, trees of mature size less than 30 feet are recommended. These shorter include:
• Acer campestre (hedge maple)
• Amelanchier sp. (service-berry)
• Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)
• Cercis canadensis (eastern red bud)
• Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
• Prunus ‘Accolade’ (flowering cherry)
• Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’ (Canada Red chokecherry)
Larger trees can be planted where utility wires are not present and are selected based on the amount of space available as well as aesthetics. These larger trees include:
• Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree)
• Gingko biloba (gingko)
• Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis (honey locust)
• Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn redwood)
• Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum)
• Platanus x acerifolia (London planetree)
• Quercus rubra (Northern red oak)
• Tilia species (linden)
• Ulmus x sp. (elm hybrids)
• Zelkova serrata (Japanese zelkova)
Schenectady has an abundance of maples so maple planting is discouraged. Green and white ashes should not be planted because the emerald ash borer, an invasive pest, killing ash trees in the region.
Bare-root trees have many advantages (i.e., low cost, wider range of available species, ease in planting) but one major short-term disadvantage. They are susceptible to drought. Short-term maintenance activities therefore involve providing a gator to each “tree owner” to ensure that trees are watered sufficiently in their first season (and, in some cases, their second season) after planting, training owners on use of the gator, and checking up on tree status through the season to ensure that watering is occurring. Gators are sturdy nylon bags that are placed around the base of the tree, filled with water. They supply 20 gallons of water per tree over a several hour period, thereby ensuring deep infiltration.
Planting and watering through the first season are only the first steps towards ensuring longevity of the urban forest. Maintenance is an ongoing obligation that requires a well-defined plan for long-term success. Long-term maintenance primarily involves pruning. The bare-root trees are relatively small and require “limbing up” or “raising” of the branches and, in some cases, training (e.g., selection of main leader, thinning) within 3-5 years of planting.
ReTree Schenectady relies on technical advice on tree planting and maintenance from the local Cornell Cooperative Extension agent, the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University (where bare-root tree planting in urban environments was developed and refined), and the local urban forester from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
HistoryReTree Schenectady was founded in 1991 by concerned citizens of Schenectady, New York. The group was motivated by the rising loss of trees in Schenectady due to aging, disease, or injury. Schenectady had (and continues to have) limited funds for maintaining its urban forest and discontinued its municipal tree planting program in the 1980s.
Since its founding in 1991, ReTree Schenectady has facilitated the planting of over 3,000 trees, trained volunteers to plant and maintain trees, participated in community events to educate the public regarding tree planting and care, and developed a Tree Master Plan for the City of Schenectady. ReTree Schenectady works closely with the City of Schenectady to support our urban forest. Volunteers from Union College, Schenectady High School, local churches, and numerous neighborhood associations have participated in our planting days.
In 1998, ReTree Schenectady received a JCPenney Golden Rule Award for exceptional volunteer service. In 2002, the City Council of the City of Schenectady issued a resolution congratulating ReTree Schenectady on its tenth anniversary and acknowledging its continued efforts to make the city a better place to live. The City Council has also issued annual Arbor Day resolutions since 2004, recognizing our efforts on behalf of Schenectady’s trees.