Tree Rescuers handbook

Survey Reporting Forms

Here is how it works.
Spot trees at risk, in your neighborhood or any public area.
  1. Sign up to be a Tree Rescuer.

  2. Obtain your brochures.

  3. Survey your community, looking for trees with invasive vines. Count the number of trees that are at significant risk* to report to us, but drop off a door hanger with the owner even if there is just a small amount of invasive vines, since early intervention is better! Keep track of how many homeowners you have alerted so we can add it to the count. We plan to order door hangers in the future, but for now you can just tape the brochure to the door handle. In residential or small business areas, if you are counting and reporting trees, please be sure to also drop off the door hangers, because once we add a neighborhood to the map, no one else is going to be going there to alert the residents.

  4. Designate chunks of land to report (see reporting forms above) such as all the properties within a block or in a community. Please keep separate records of residential and non-residential properties (business, right of way, park, community association land, and government land.)

  5. Help at-risk trees by

  6. Try to identify the vines if you can, but if you can’t, it's not a problem - please start dropping off door hangers anyway. English Ivy and Wintercreeper on trees are obvious. If a vine is circling round and round a trunk or another vine, it is almost certainly an invasive species. Smothering vines can be hard to tell apart, but in residential areas, if a taller tree is blanketed by vines, it is probably invasive. You can drop off a door hanger and let the homeowner figure it out. Dojust familiarize yourself with what a big rope of native grape looks like, since it would be a shame if a homeowner cut that. In natural areas, you can sometimes be fooled by native grapes, Trumpet Creeper and Greenbrier which can be quite thick, but since our counts there are only rough anyway (and usually miss a lot of small trees), the occasional overcount is not a problem. Exact vine ID is only important for people who are about to cut a vine (ID instructions are here).


Other ways to participate:

  • Start conversations on or other local social media sites. Be sure and mention that it's only invasive vines that are a problem and that the native ones should not be cut! Take pictures of the problem or of successful tree rescues (but leave the houses out of the frame so as not to embarrass people).
  • Help other communities that are in need of volunteers.
  • If you have experience in vine ID, help new volunteers develop their skills.
  • In addition to our counts, report infestations of specific invasive plants on non-residential land via the EDDmapS app. It is very easy to use.
  • Volunteer with the parks. Most of them have procedures for you to volunteer to clip invasive vines. See these instructions for Fairfax County Parks and this list of contacts for other parks.
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Questions? Need more brochures?


Our goal:

6000 rescues by 12/2022

Residential Properties

  • 749 alerted

  • 3491 trees at risk


  • 2134 acres surveyed

  • 21,940 trees at risk

Since 9/1/2021, as of 8/22/2022

Interested? Watch a video

Sign up here

Tools for community Tree Rescuers

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The first tree saved! A volunteer dropped off a brochure. A couple weeks later, he found that the homeowner had taken care of the problem! The ivy above will die back on its own.

Important tips

Keep it safe!
You should obviously stay on sidewalks and public areas, and stay out of train right-of-ways or any other dicey area.
Keep it neighborly!
Let people know that your are only there to help, not to police their properties or impose anything on them. It is normal for people to resist new ideas. Our goal is to gently introduce the concept of valuing native trees and controlling invasive plants, hoping that when people start to understand these basic points, they will gradually take an interest in creating habitat-friendly environments with more native plants. In any outreach campaign,  a 1% response rate is par for the course, so anything more than that would be wonderful (and would add up to a lot of trees saved!) We want to make the ideas attractive and fun - and we definitely don't want to be confrontational. Be sensitive to how people may perceive you as you stare into their yard.
You might consider sending everyone a letter or starting a discussion on NextDoor or other local social media explaining what you are doing before you start dropping off brochures. The more buzz you can create in your community, the better.

(This is an educational program. But if you also end up working to control the vines yourself, please report it here.)

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* How do we define a

"tree at significant risk?"

1. Count any tree that is more than a couple feet high. Most trees are single stemmed (as opposed to shrubs).

2. Look for trees that are likely to be in serious trouble in the next 5-7 years. For example,

  • English Ivy more than a quarter of the way or so up the trunk

  • A smothering vine such as Porcelain Berry that is starting to cover the canopy

  • A strangling vine such as Japanese Honeysuckle that is twisted around the trunk

  • Branches breaking off from vines

3. For lesser infestations, do drop off a brochure, but don't include them in your reporting total.

4. Don't count trees where someone has already clipped the vines or where the tree is totally dead.


Hands-on training in vine ID

Occasional opportunities will be posted on the Events Calendar

If you can gather a group of ten  or more volunteers in your community, we can help you lead an event

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Door hangers

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Series of three short videos in English

Series of three short videos in Spanish