Getting a Street Tree
Forgive me if this has been answered before, but what is the most effective way to get a free street tree in front of my home (hoping to get a spring planting)? From the helpful info on the SOSNA website it seems PHS is the way to go. Is this the best way to go about it?
I don't know if there's a "best" way, I think it all depends on timing and budgets at any given time.
I assume you read through all the choices at Get a Street Tree | SOSNA | South of South Neighborhood Association (pasted below).
So I guess if I were in the market for a FREE street tree at this very moment and had done the same, and really hope for a tree in the Spring, I might do both #1 & #2, and also keep watching out for when #5 becomes available again. Otherwise, I guess if I really wanted to have a tree by Spring, AND wasn't opposed to spending a bit out of my own pocket, I'd probably look into #3/4.
- Fairmount Park (FREE/6 months – 2 years). This option simply requires you fill out a service request form, checking the box to request a new tree. This is free, but you will have no control or any idea of when your tree will actually be planted. Once you submit your request it’s added to a long list of similar requests, and FPC deals with these requests in the order they’re submitted.
- Philadelphia Horticultural Society TreeVitalize (FREE/7 months). This option requires you to fill out an application form and asks that you participate in planting your tree. (It’s optional – but you’ll learn how to take care of it and have greater appreciation for your new tree.) You can decide if you’d like your tree to be planted in early spring or late fall. You do need to submit your form months prior to the planting day (in August for April planting) and you do not have a choice in trees. Learn about TreeVItalize and the Tree Tenders program here.
- Private Contractor (~$300 per tree/ASAP).If you wish to plant a tree of your own selection on your own timeframe and have the cash to spare, the quickest way is to hire your own contractor. SOSNA has obtained a list of Fairmount Park-approved contractors who do the job right, and who take care of most everything in the process – they get permission from Fairmount Park, clear the site through the state’s CallOne system (which maps underground utilities that might interfere with the planting), and plant your tree. Some contractors do not plant individual trees, preferring only to plant in larger groups. Here is a list of approved trees that will thrive in an urban setting, have a good track record, and won't interfere with overhead wires. If you plant a large species under electric wires it may get severely pruned by the utility company.
- SOSNA Street Tree Matching Grant Program. The SOSNA Board has authorized $5,000 for this program and it will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to participants who meet the program eligibility and requirements. If you complete all of the required steps, the application forms, and are eligible for the program SOSNA will reimburse you the lesser of $200 or 50% of the cost of acquisition and installation of your new tree. In addition, if you do not already have a sufficient-sized pit, SOSNA will reimburse the lesser of $75 or 50% of the pit installation cost. (At right - Two trees at 20th & Fitzwater partially funded through this program.)
- TreePhilly. A new program announced in February 2012 with the goal of dramatically increasing the City's tree canopy. You can request a free tree for your yard (must be on private property) or request a street tree. The deadline has passed for this year's allocation of trees, but check back to see if the program is renewed next year.
PS I love my yard tree acquired through TreePhilly last Spring.
ETA: It appears the info at #5 on SOSNA's site may be out-of-date. I just clicked on the TreePhilly link and looks like the deadline's extended. That makes sense to me since I believe I'd heard they have an excess of trees.
Last edited by Lolly; 10-03-2012 at 11:44 AM.
I do not mind waiting for a free one, however does anyone know about quality installation? Would a contractor do a much better job or do the free services match up?
Last edited by Derf; 10-03-2012 at 12:08 PM.
I don't think it's the quality of the installation so much as the tree itself. Obviously if you're buying your own tree you have more choices (of both size/age and type of tree). I've heard mixed things but I get the impression at least some of the free trees aren't the most hearty, or the best choices. I don't really know enough about trees to have much of an opinion though, just what I've heard. That said, a lot of a tree's chances of survival has to do with how it's cared for the first couple years. I've been pretty religious about watering my free yard tree as instructed, and have kept it staked as recommended, and so far it is doing just fine.
Careful what you wish for - I had roots in my sewer pipe and had to replace the line leading from my house to the main. That said I like the tree in front of my house. Just be aware of this when selecting the type of tree; as Lolly mentioned in #3 some are more suited to "city living", their leaves grow up as opposed to out, and the roots grow down instead of spreading out. This prevents future property damage.
Just go see the guys hanging out on 22nd and Fitwater... oh, I thought you said "street trees"... nevermind.
I got this recently as it concerns my neighborhood but there is information regarding the Treetenders groups south of South: Friends of Schuylkill River Park
Hey look, SOSNA must have been reading this and updated their site.
Originally Posted by Lolly
Get a Street Tree | SOSNA | South of South Neighborhood Association
Damn they're good.
Tree roots generally won't grow into your sewer pipe unless your sewer pipe is already broken.
Originally Posted by RedBullMB
It was an old terra cotta pipe, it may have already been broken. Roots can put pressure on pipes causing them to crack over time though.
The wait for a free street tree is not as long as it used to be, the city has it down to a few months...
Fairmount Tree Option
My husband and I moved here in 2008 and we applied for a Fairmount Park tree soon after. It took about 1.5 years. I had forgotten about it, then one day, there it was. However, my neighbors just moved in recently and they applied for a Fairmount tree about 2-3 months ago, and they just came and prepared the sidewalk to put it in, so I guess the wait really has gotten shorter.
I have no complaints about my free tree as of yet. It seems healthy and has done well. The only thing is that the city doesn't put in any border around the sidewalk hole, so if you want to make it look nice and/or stop dogs from peeing on it so much, you'll need to think about building a border.
Thanks for the info!
Good point. And on this topic too, keep in mind that you don't want to "wall" off your tree pit either, because that will diminish it's ability to benefit from, and abate, stormwater run-off. So, building some sort of permeable border around it is best.
Originally Posted by dana_b
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