Free Trees Help You Fight Climate Change (and Make Your Yard Even Nicer)
The City of Los Angeles has just appointed its first urban forester to spearhead a campaign to add 90,000 trees to the city’s landscape by 2021, in an effort to combat the effects of climate change and improve air and water quality. Fortunately, you don’t have to live in L.A. to take advantage of an offer for free trees—many municipalities and nonprofits across the West are offering them up to mitigate air pollution and the urban heat island effect.
Adding greenery to urban areas isn’t just a matter of environmental importance—it’s a critical social justice concern. Even before wildfires became a perennial threat in California, the effects of air pollution have been particularly high in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, where highways, busy streets, and polluting industries tend to be sited; as a result, black and brown children suffer significantly higher rates of asthma than their white peers. Planting trees is an easy and low-cost solution with lasting benefits, one that is being implemented more and more throughout the West.
Whether you live in a highly polluted area, want to increase your home’s value (while decreasing your cooling costs), or just want to make your yard look nice, planting trees is just a good thing to do, period. Here’s where to find trees for your street and yard, without having to spend a dime of your own money:
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- The City of Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods program
- The City of Spokane’s Neighborhood Tree Program
- The City of Tacoma doesn’t have free trees, but its department of urban forestry offers a $30 coupon toward the purchase of trees
- The City of Vancouver’s Yard Tree Giveaway program
Photo by thinair28 / Getty Images
- City of Portland‘s Department of Urban Forestry offers up to two free trees per household for Portland residents
- Planting throughout the Willamette Valley and Greater Portland area (including Southwest Washington), Friends of Trees works on a sliding scale to plant street trees free of charge to to people who can’t afford them (people can pay up to $35 for a tree)
- City of Tigard‘s Free Trees to Beautify Your Block
- Lane County Department of Public Works offers a tree voucher program
Photo by Alexander Turnbough / Eye Em via Getty Images
- City of Glendale‘s Tree Power Program
- The City of Los Angeles Department of Environment and Sanitation will plant a tree on your property for free. City Plants also offers free yard and street trees.
- Trees for Oakland offers help finding free shade trees for residents of disadvantaged communities
- City of Oxnard is offering free fruit trees to residents with the specific goal of combatting air pollution. Priority neighborhoods are Tierra Vista, Mar Vista, Five Points Northeast, Rose Park, La Colonia, and Cabrillo.
- The City of Sacramento‘s Sacramento Shade Program offers up to TEN free trees per household
- The City of Salinas will purchase and plant a tree on your property, free of charge through their Adopt-a-Tree program
- San Francisco‘s Friends of the Urban Forest offers free trees, and we already put together a list of specimens particularly suited to the area.
- The Woodland Tree Foundation
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- Salt River Power (SRP) offers two desert-adapted trees to lower cooling costs and improve water quality
- Trees Matter partners with SRP to get trees for Phoenix residents through their Utility Shade Program
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- The NeighborWoods program offers trees to residents of Boise and Sand Point
- Idaho Power Shade Tree Project
Photo by Denis Tengney Jr./ Getty Images
- The City of Ogden has their annual tree event in April
- Provo City Power offers free trees to residents who have AC, to lower their power costs (but not to residents without AC? harsh)
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- Denver-based nonprofit The Park People offers residents shade trees through their Denver Digs Trees program; another Denver nonprofit, Be A Smart Ash plants a free tree to replace ash trees lost to the emerald ash borer beetle. Better than nothing!
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- The City of Albuquerque partnered with local and national agencies to develop their ABQ NeighborWoods program, which offers a tree giveaway
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- Smart Trees Pacific’s Hoʻolāʻau Community Tree Planting Project has an adopt-a-tree program that grants a free street tree for residents of Olomana and Maunawili Streets through a grant from the City of Honolulu. (Though by the looks of this paradisiacal photo, they have plenty already!)
If you don’t see your state here, it’s because it doesn’t currently offer any tree programs that are completely free of charge, but there’s another way! Though they aren’t technically free, you’ll get ten free trees as a thank-you gift for joining the Arbor Day Foundation (minimum joining rate is only $10).