Free the trees


Do you love the trees and the concept of caring for them as a community? That may be what it will take to save them—while building richer relationships with your neighbors.

Our large canopy trees are being choked by ivy, which is slowly killing them. Though it’s nearly impossible to eradicate ivy, it’s quite easy to prevent it from killing trees. Just like clipping your finger nails, our trees need to be “manicured” periodically by cutting a section of vines near the base of the tree. The ivy above then dies.

In Inverness, in Second Valley, we’ve held our first of many “Free the Trees” potlucks and work parties. We hope the right combination of work and fun will build an ongoing tradition that protects our trees for years to come. We’ll meet periodically throughout the year until the major trees in our neighborhood are under control. After that, twice a year should do it. 

Here’s some things we’ve learned so far.

Trees that are really strangled by ivy take a lot of work to free. It helps to have each team or individual focus on freeing one tree at each outing. That is doable, and it brings great satisfaction to know you’ve set one more “being” free.

Skinning off layers of ivy is far easier than trying to dig deep and pull out a chunk all at once—unless you have a Sawzall!

This is rigorous work. Keep the work part short and the party long.

We challenge all communities in West Marin to free their trees while building their community traditions at the same time. For helpful information on starting your own “Free the Trees” potluck and work party tradition, go to You may also call me at (415) 669.9656.

William Now, an environmental activist, a community and relationship builder, a nonprofit fund raiser and a part-time massage therapist, lives in Second Valley.