Get a free tree from the city

Posted: March 22, 2013

WANT to spruce up your yard this spring? The city can hook you up with one or two free trees - but you have to act fast.

The deadline to register for TreePhilly's spring campaign is March 31. Go to

Residents can choose from nine times and locations to pick up trees in April. They also can get information on the 10 species that the city is offering.

There's the pawpaw, which grows to about 20-feet tall and sprouts "fruits that taste like banana custard"; the sweetbay magnolia, with "large fragrant white flowers" in the spring and "bright red berries" in the fall; the enormous tulip tree, which can grow to 90 feet; and many others, according to the city's website.

TreePhilly, which is in its second year and is funded by a $75,000 annual grant from Wells Fargo, is part of Mayor Nutter's goal of increasing Philly's tree canopy to 30 percent by 2025. Right now it's at about 20 percent.

Nutter wants the city to plant 300,000 trees by 2015. It's about one-third of the way there, said Patrick Morgan, chief of staff to Michael DiBerardinis, deputy mayor for environmental and community resources.

More trees means "improving the overall quality of life, raising property values and decreasing energy costs for homeowners," Morgan said.

In its first year, TreePhilly - which focuses on private properties, as opposed to planting in parks and lining streets with trees - gave away 4,000 trees. Morgan said the city hopes to hand out another 5,000 this year.

The free trees, while far from fully grown, won't be just sprouts in mugs full of dirt. They'll be a few feet tall and ready to grow. Participants will get a tutorial when they pick them up on how to plant and care for their leafy lawn dwellers.

Most of the trees are grown in one of the city's two nurseries, Morgan said.

Nonresidential properties, including churches and community groups, can get up to 10 free trees through the program.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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