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Knock on Wood: Free Trees Are Enhancing New Haven Neighborhoods

Knock on Wood: Free Trees Are Enhancing New Haven Neighborhoods

With the start of spring, there will be new bursts of color along some New Haven streets as newly planted trees begin to blossom.

The city of New Haven is turning to trees to enhance its neighborhoods and improve the ecosystem by offering free tree plantings to homeowners. The city is working with the Urban Resource Initiative (URI) and has allocated $20,000 in FY 2016-17 for tree planting.

"The return on this investment is beautiful, tree-lined streets, glorious city parks, and repeated recognition by the Connecticut Audubon Society and other environmental advocates for providing welcoming wildlife habitat,” Mayor Toni Harp said.

Over 300 planted back to top

URI planted 330 trees this past fall to homeowners or businesses who requested them -- and they were provided at no cost. The goal was to plant the trees in areas that have less tree cover than others, say program organizers. The group aims to plant over 550 trees by the end of this spring.

"Tree cover comes with different associated environmental and economic benefits," URI Director Colleen Murphy-Dunning said.

Those benefits include reducing energy costs by providing shade, increasing property values, soaking up pollution, and providing a home for birds and other animals.

The free trees do come with one condition, however. The property owners have to promise to water them. Organizers provide pamphlets that advise on best practices for watering and weeding. Due to the drought, experts say the young trees need at least 10 gallons of water per week and mulching can help maintain moisture in the soil.

"The trouble with newly planted trees is a less-advanced root system," says Chris Donnelly, an urban forester for the state. "They need their roots watered."

Every tree planted by URI is tagged with a GPS, so the group can monitor its progress.