Urban trees are amazing things. Their leaves clean the air we breathe and give us oxygen, their roots absorb non-point source pollution from stormwater before it enters into the ground water and our rivers and oceans, their canopies provide us shade during the hotter months, their nuts and fruits feed us, and they can positively contribute to our mental health and wellbeing. Trees even seem to have the power to hold us in our place, even if it is for a brief moment. This time of year a tree’s showy transformation from green to red or orange or yellow or every shade in between encapsulates us, and many of us seek out river valleys and wide vistas across the region to witness this ephemeral shift enmasse. You can also get your fall foliage fix right here on Schuylkill Banks!
We need more trees in Philadelphia and their positive impacts, and you can help! If you have a yard, you should get a tree for that. If you have a sidewalk in front of your house, you should get a tree for that too. The City has made it a goal to increase the tree canopy to 30% in all neighborhoods by 2025, so they are offering FREE trees to property owners to help achieve this goal. The TreePhilly program through Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR) and the Tree Tenders program through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) are two ways to get your free tree. If you are a renter, ask your landlord to fill out the paperwork for a free tree. If you don’t have a yard or sidewalk or already have a tree, consider joining a group that is going to plant trees around your neighborhood or the next one over – PPR tree planting events are here and PHS tree planting events are here. If you don’t find a group you want to plant with, then become a Tree Tender and start your own tree planting group. Getting married? Plant a ceremonial tree and watch it grow alongside your relationship. Having a baby? Plant a tree and watch it outgrow your newborn. (My parents planted a blue spruce in front of my childhood home when I was born – we are the same age, I however, am much shorter). The point is, help Philadelphia become a better city, one tree at a time.