Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is offering free trees to Central District residents through the Tree Fund. Groups of neighbors from at least five households living on a street or block can request from 10 to 40 trees per project. In addition, every participating household can have a fruit tree for their own yard. The deadline to apply is August 16.
According to Thomas Whittemore, a Neighborhood District Coordinator for the East District, the process is straightforward: “The trees are free so all you and your neighbors need to do is apply, get a little training, dig a few holes, water and …voila, a tree canopy begins to take shape.”
This is the 15th year that Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is providing free trees through the Neighborhood Matching Fund’s Tree Fund program. Through the Fund, Seattle residents have planted more than 20,000 trees and built stronger community connections along the way.
In 1972, Seattle’s land area had a tree cover of 40 percent. Now, that cover has dropped to 22 percent. This decline threatens nature’s ability to help manage storm water, reduce erosion, absorb climate-disrupting gases, improve public health and clean the air. The goal of the Tree Fund program is to increase the percentage back to 30 percent, build community, and promote a clean and green environment for Seattle’s streets.
I say, go for it, AFTER careful consideration about how you’re going to take care of your tree for the first few years. Not exactly like adopting a kitten, but your tree(s) will appreciate a few things: a) pay careful attention to the planting instructions. The hole should be like a saucer, wider than deep. Don’t add extra mulch, trees do better in native soil. Don’t plant too low, keep the root flange at the surface. Spread out the roots! No mulch volcanos! b) (this should be a.) Right plant right place. Don’t put a tree below power lines or too close to the house, you’ll only come to grief. c) WATERING. I’m not sure if the city gives out those watering bags, but you must give trees summer water until they get established. If no free city watering bag, you can get them for $20 on Amazon.com. Considering that a mature street tree is usually worth $10-$20 thousand, that’s good insurance.