Progress Report on the Lake Herman Open Space Project

July 11, 2020

Benicia Tree Foundation's experiment to plant trees in open space is entering its fifth dry season.  The idea was to find a way to plant trees that was easier and cheaper than our prior projects where we would plant standard nursery-grown trees in yards, parks or school campuses.  The Lake Herman Open Space project involved planting 100 native tree saplings on 8 acres of city-owned open space east of the lake. 

The experiment began during drought conditions.  Each tree would be hand-watered for two dry-seasons.  After that point they could survive on rainfall alone. Click here for details on how this project started.

The biggest challenge to the project has been predators.  After the heavy winter rains of 2016/17, about two-thirds of the saplings were eaten by voles who could crawl through the chicken-wire cages that protected the trees from goats. Click here for details on the vole infestation.  Last year owl boxes were installed by the City to attract barn owls that would help keep the rodent population under control.

Since the saplings were planted, over 190 volunteers have participated in 25 tree care days at Lake Herman to weed and water the trees, armor them from predators, and to plant acorns where the saplings did not survive.  This also included planting acorns and buckeye seeds last winter on two adjacent acres of open space approved by the City.

At the 3rd Thursday Tree Care Day in June, all the trees were inspected.  44 trees are established.  10 saplings planted last year are still being watered, and 36 acorns planted last winter have sprouted - out of 66 locations planted (a 55% success rate).  This dry season we will be watering the saplings and sprouts every 3rd Thursday beginning at 9:00 AM.  If you want to participate, please click here to register.

Lake Herman Tree

Volunteers stand by one of the first tree planted in the open space in 2015.


Lake Herman Project Site

Acorn planted last winter has sprouted at the Lake Herman Open Space Project Site