By John P. Anderson
A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free! We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.
- Address: Your house
- Date and Time: Soon – if you send in your application. Don’t delay, apply today!
- Best For: Tree huggers, tree lovers, bird lovers, people lovers (Basically anyone that doesn’t own a parking lot)
- Website: http://www.
Like trees? Love trees? Indifferent to trees but your spouse or children like them? Have I got news for you! If you live in the City of San Diego and own property, you can have a tree planted in your yard for free. Yes, 100% free. The tree itself, the digging, calling the utilities, putting it in the ground, everything. All you have to do is agree to provide a bit of water each year and try to keep it living and healthy. The cost per year for the watering is estimated at $3. $3 a year for a beautiful, living addition to your yard and street.
This great opportunity is made possible by the Urban Forestry program of the Urban Corps of San Diego County. They have been planting trees through this program since 2002 throughout the county. If you’re not familiar with the Urban Corps, it is:
“a certified local conservation corps and charter school whose mission is to provide young adults with a high school education combined with job training and community service in the fields of conservation and recycling, which will assist youth in becoming more employable while protecting San Diego’s natural resources and instilling the importance of community service.”
So how do you get your tree? Follow these simple steps:
- Fill out this short 2-page application
- You’ll be contacted and your yard will be evaluated to determine the usable area and what tree(s) are suitable.
- Based on your evaluation, select a tree(s) from the Street Tree Selection Guide
- The guide has lots of information about the trees you can choose including size, form, and drought tolerance
The Urban Forestry program is funded by various grants – the current program is funded by the City of San Diego. Other sponsors have included the State of California, Caltrans (for plantings along highways and freeways), the American Recovery Act, CAL FIRE, and other agencies and donors. Some grants have specific purposes or criteria like being for low-income neighborhoods or specific locations.
If the parkway (the space between the sidewalk and the street) on your property is paved you may have to remove the pavement to accommodate a planting. However, Urban Corps has done pavement removal in the past so it is still worth completing an application and having your space evaluated. One past project in Logan Heights added 85 tree wells on a 4-block stretch of Logan Avenue, for example.
The trees must be planted in the ‘public right of way’ which is within 10 feet of the street curb. Typically, trees are planted in the parkway but depending on the site and width of the sidewalk, planting in the yard area may be possible as well.
If you’d like to see the Urban Corps in action they’ll be at 30th Street and Adams Avenue in North Park on April 22nd. Of course, if you complete an application you can see them up close and personal at your residence. Applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis so don’t delay and apply today.
Three cheers for a greener San Diego! Hip! Hip! Hooray!
(Thanks to Anna Daniels for a recent article about the disappearance of a long-loved tree in City Heights and to Ty Sterns with the Urban Corps for taking the time to talk with me about this wonderful program.)
Jeremy Rappoport says
As a certified arborist, I was delighted to read your article about the urban league offer to plant free street trees for property owners. This is a great opportunity for San Diego property owners to help improve and expand our urban forest, which has been in decline for several years. If you are not sure of the tree to select from the San Diego guide, shoot me an email, be happy to assist in your decision.
John Anderson says
Jeremy – thanks for the offer of assistance and glad to hear you approve of the program. I think it’s a fantastic idea and hopefully if more people hear about it we’ll see more trees on our streets soon. Take care.
Anna Daniels says
John–thanks so much for writing about the street trees. They make such a significant, too often overlooked difference in our lives. I can literally feel myself relax, my shoulders loosen up, when I find myself beneath their much appreciated shade in summer, or when I am simply transported by their beauty. The orchid trees are blooming at the moment. A whole block of flowering orchid trees provides a human scale, an unexpected burst of color, and makes the surrounding homes appear much more hospitable.
John Anderson says
I much love trees as well, happy to write about them. I’d meant to write about the Urban Corps program for awhile and your recent article reminded me to get it done. I’m looking forward to seeing their installation on April 22nd and hopefully in many places all over the city in coming months.
Annie Lane says
Submitted my application today! Did I circle “As many as possible” for the number of trees? Yes, yes I did.
Thanks for the 411, John!
John Anderson says
Awesome! I love that’s an option on the form – definitely the best choice.
Let me know how the process goes for you, maybe I could do a follow-up profiling your tree(s).