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Tree Stewards Manual

a work in progress...


Tree Steward assignments to zones

In the 23/24 tree planting season, the ACFT planted 225 trees, mostly on the south side of downtown. The map at the right shows the locations of those trees (plus a few other trees previously planted at an unknown date but could benefit from some tree care while the Tree Stewards are nearby). ​

This first year, we are going to go with a "zone" strategy, where we assign people to groups of 2 or 3 who will care for their zone for the whole year. Each zone has 30 to 50 trees in it and are delinieated by different colored pins on the overall map. Those zones with more trees are the ones with trees spaced more closely together (often in a row) which will make them easier to care for. Groups with fewer trees are more spread out and require more time to travel from tree to tree.

To make things easier, each Group will have its own webpage with its own map (which you can open on your phone) and listing of trees by address/locations:


Tree Stewards Zone Assignments for Spring/Summer 2024.

Each tree will be assigned a tree id#, which will appear not only on a white tag on the tree, but also identify it in the database and on the maps. This tag also refers people to our Tree Care page where they can report problems with this tree by referencing its Tree ID#.

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When heading out...

  • Make sure you are heading out with at least one other person.

  • Please wear your Tree Steward shirt. (And if it is hot, wear sunscreen and sun hat and bring a bottle of water).

  • Make sure you have the necessary tools with you. If you are assessing, bring a caliper to measure dbh. If you are pruning, bring your pruners, etc...

  • Please bring ACFT information cards with you. Residents of the neighborhood will be interested in what you're doing and have questions. Please use this as an opporutnity to talk about trees and the ACFT. Point out the instructions on the tree tag and also give them a card and encourage them to visit the website and send us an email (email address can be found on the site).

    • Some will ask if they can get a tree. Tell them we'd be happy to add them to the list. They can go to and fill out a Tree Request form (or you can do it for them).

    • Some will offer to take care of the tree for you. Ask them if they'd like to become an official Tree Keeper and point them to

    • The important thing is that you capture the information, even if it means writing it down on paper or just sending us an email.

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acft card - back.png
When heading out

Tree Assessments & Reporting

Tree Assessment

There are the forms that Tree Stewards will need to fill out depending on the circumstances. They can also be found at

  • Tree Identification form (to be developed): this form will be completed when the tree is first planted and will assign the tree an number and identify the species, GPS coordinates, width of right-of-way, initial dbh, etc.

  • Tree assessment form: to be filled out annually. This form notes dbh, the condition of the tree, etc. [however this first year, you will also be capturing ROW width)

  • Service request form: to be filled out to request service for something that can not be done in the field (such as mushing or staking) or to report something (such as suspected disease). If you can do it in the field, there is no need to submit this form. We will send a service team to address this, usually on a Saturday morning.

  • Service completion form: if you have completed a task from a service request form, fill out this simple form to let us know it's been done (such as staking a tree) and we'll take it off the list.

  • Request for a tree planting form: coming soon



Mulches provide many benefits for trees and shrubs: moderate soil temperatures, reduce soil moisture loss, reduce soil compaction, provide nutrients, improve soil structure, keep mowers and string trimmers away from the trunk

  • Here is the NCUFC's mulch page which provides a good overview

    • No volcano mulch!​ Mulch should not be touching the trunk.

    • We shape it like a bowl to to assist in watering (i.e. you then fill the bowl - see video). This helps direct the water & prevent runoff when the soil is compacted.

    • Mulch should extend to the dripline and be 2-4" deep.

  • When assessing tree (using the form), you can rate the mulch as:

    • Good - and arranged properly​

    • Good - but needs arranging

    • Has some mulch - but needs more

    • Has little to no mulch - needs asap

  • The City has kindly given the Alliance access to their mulch pile​ behind Legion Stadium.

Operating the truck & pump

Operating the watering truck and pump

  • The truck is kept at the City of Wilmington Parks & Rec Complex off at 1700 Burnett

  • Contact the City of Wilmington office a few days before to arrange

  • Volunteers must be on the City’s approved list to drive

  • Make sure there is gasoline in the pump before you leave

  • Truck must be taken out and returned during office hours (Monday - Friday: 8am - 330pm)

  • Mornings are probably best during the hot summer months

  • We may eventually be able to arrange and take out on weekends

Legion Stadium high volume water spigot.png
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  • Filling the tank

    • Check water tank on back of truck to see if needs filling (tank holds 250 gallons). There are two options for filling it:

      • Regular hose at the location the truck is picked up (takes much longer)

      • Larger hose down by Legion Stadium (much faster - 8 to 10 minutes) - but it takes a few minutes to drive there. Here a link to the exact location (see first pic above)

    • Make sure you hold the hose in the tank or otherwise secure (or it will fly out when filling)

    • Make sure you put the cap back on tank once filled

  • Watering from the truck (watch the videos first)

    • You must hook up the pump before watering

    • ​Use extension rod and connect tank to pump

    • Start the pump. Note choke and idle settings.

    • Water will come through the hose even if the pump isn’t on (gravity fed), but it will come out a lot faster with the pump

Other truck rules

  • Do not leave the truck unattended at any time (even for a minute or two)

  • Do not leave keys in truck

  • Do not drink water from hose (it is likely well water and there are bacteria in the tank. Ok for the tree but not for you ;-)

Watering Technique

  • At this time, we are not deploying watering bags, so mulch is important (see mulching instructions above)

  • Depending on how dry conditions are, water for 2-4 minutes (i.e. roughly when the soil is saturated below and the bowl fills).

  • Water from the outside of the bowl in (see video)


  • Here are the links to Dr. Fair's video on pruning and the accompanying slideshow.

  • If you are nervous about pruning, send me an email, and I'll give you a quick refresher on it (or point you to an expert).

  • Remember, you can't undo pruning ;-)

  • Also remember that certain species should be pruned at certain times of the year. If you're not sure, please ask.



Coming soon! But in the meantime, it would be very helpful to learn to tie bowline knots and clove hitches (on the clove hitch video, pay attention to 'method 2')

Root girdling

Root girdling

Coming soon!


This is the old class syllabus for reference...

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