When Brent Green wanted to buy a home just a block away from Interstate 10 in mid-city L.A. back in 2003, his wife, Cheryl—looking
at the barred windows and patchy lawns—was leery. “Trust me,” said Brent.
She did, the Greens moved in, and Brent, a landscape designer (his firm is GreenArt Landscape Design), went to work lavishing love on his garden. And when he was done, he moved on to his neighbors’, seeking permission to plant street trees and paying for them out of his own pocket. He put in 35 that first year, which he thought fitting—one for every year he’d been on the planet.
The next year, he kept the tradition going, moving on to adjacent streets. Ten years later, Green has planted 398 trees—including native California sycamores. He maintains them all, making sure they’re watered.
The trees have changed everything, says Green, who was given a Certificate of Recognition from the city of Los Angeles for his efforts. Trees filter out freeway pollution, dampen traffic sounds, provide shade, attract birds, and generally soften every aspect of urban living. “The people who used to be nervous about parking in front of my house after dark are now trying to move in,” he says. “But more than anything, the trees show that the people who live here care.”