30 (More) Native Trees Planted Along Inner Lake Path


Humans plant while California gulls confer in the lake (Photo: Magesh Jayapandian)

Volunteers from the California Native Plant Society and Silicon Valley Volunteers planted 30 more native trees at Lake Cunningham Park in San Jose on Saturday, November 9, 2019.

A total of 32 volunteers (17 from SVV, 16 from CNPS) worked from 9am to 1pm (140 volunteer-hours) on tasks like planting, watering, staking, and caging. The area around each tree will be mulched in a followup session December 7.

This completes a 3-year project begun in 2017 to line a 1/2 mile stretch of the sunny Inner Lake Path from the Marina to the Native Garden with shade-giving, habitat-friendly native trees. The project was funded by City of San Jose Parks & Rec and by BeautifySJ (2018 & 2019). This is the site of the 1st Day of the Season Bird and Plant Id Walks at the park led by Vicki Silvas-Young since 2016.


Panoramic view of Phase 2 plantings (right) and Phase 3 plantings (left)

The tree planting project was conceived by native garden volunteer Tilak, a Tree Amigo with Our City Forest. Park Supervisor Steve Ryan approved the project as a 3-year phased effort with ongoing monitoring and feedback. Bubbler irrigation at each tree, a key factor in sapling survival, is installed and maintained by staff. Volunteers are responsible for weekly watering, weeding, and monitoring. The sapling survival rate is ~90%, and most plants have doubled or tripled in size in 1-2 years.

Trees planted by the lakeside include riparian species such as Fremont cottonwood, white alder, box elder, and western sycamore. Trees in upland portions of the path include valley oak and black walnut. All are winter deciduous, providing shade during the hot summer months, allowing for sunshine during winter. Native trees are adapted to the local soil and climate, and are expected to thrive on their own once the root system is established. Native trees provide unmatched habitat value to wildlife, including insects and songbirds. Cottonwoods and walnuts will also add fall color to the park.


This Phase 2 valley oak has doubled in size since its planting 12 months ago.


Silicon Valley Volunteers is a local organization with 4,300 members on meetup.com. They are a key partner in the Native Garden, and the primary volunteer source for the tree planting project.

California Native Plant Society is an environmental nonprofit with ~10,000 members, and 35 chapters covering California and Baja California. The local chapter covers Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, and has ~900 members.

Photos of the event can be seen at:



About Arvind Kumar

Native plant gardener in San Jose, CA. I have been growing native plants since 2000 in a tract home lot front and back.
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