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How to Plan a Tree Planting

You'd be amazed at the far-reaching benefits you reap - in health, the environment and even money-saving you can take to the bank -- by simply planting a tree. Whether you do it in your backyard, or your neighborhood park, at your school, library, church, synagogue, mosque or hospital, you and your community will enjoy the positive effects for generations to come.

Financial and Social Benefits

  • Research shows that planting trees and landscaping a home can add significantly to property values - as much as 9%.

  • By planting as few as three trees around a property, the average household can cut energy costs by $100 to $250. By planting a few more as windbreakers, businesses can save much more -- up to 25% of their heating costs.

  • Small businesses take note: Shoppers are willing to pay 12% more for goods and services when the business district is well-landscaped.

  • Trees reduce crime: Apartment buildings with modest greenery had 42% fewer crimes - 52% fewer when there was lots of greenery -- than those without any trees.

Environmental Benefits

  • The net cooling effect of a young tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.

  • The canopy of leaves reduces water runoff and prevents soil erosion which improves the water quality in the community.

  • Trees improve air quality - and reduce noise pollution.

Health Benefits

  • Kids with ADHD have been found to concentrate better after playing in a natural setting.

  • Hospital patients who could view a grove of trees from their window required fewer pain relievers, experienced fewer complications, and left the hospital sooner.

  • Drivers exposed to scenes of nature were better able to cope with the stresses of driving.

Imagine what it can do for you on a daily basis if you start planting in your community.

(Need more reasons to start planting? Check out the USDA Forest Service.)


Ready to get started?

All it takes to organize a tree planting is to get a group of friends and neighbors together for an hour or two. First you tidy up the litter from the area and then you plant a few trees. You can make it an even more fun social gathering by getting the volunteers together afterwards for refreshments, or to play on the grounds (a safe distance from the young trees!) - or go out for a drink or a meal together to celebrate your good work.


Simple Steps for a Tree Planting

Step 1. Get permission - and help -- from local officials.

Meet with the principal of the school, the head of the church or library or other relevant officials to get the OK - and to see what kind of plantings they'd like. Those who are on the premises daily likely have good ideas about the placement and kinds of plants that would work best.

You'll also need to talk with officials about whether there is someone on hand who can take responsibility for watering the plants once your greenup is done. If not, you will have to arrange for volunteers to come back. New trees must be watered much more often than mature ones.

Step 2. Set the date

Timing is critical for all community events, but especially for tree plantings. In order to make your greenup as successful as possible, bear in mind:

  • Saturday or Sunday are the best days to schedule your green up-you'll be able to maximize the number of people who'll be able to attend without interrupting regular school hours.

  • The best season is usually spring or fall-when it's neither too hot nor too cold, and the soil is rich and moist. This will vary in different regions.

  • For more tips, see our guide on setting the date and getting permissions.

Step 3. Recruit Volunteers

Finding volunteers can be the hardest part of any event - and it is the key to success. Green Hands USA can help!

  • Call upon your network of friends-it'll make the event more fun for all of you and they'll be most dedicated to making the event a success.

  • Fill in the details about your Tree Planting on the submit an event form.

  • Once approved, your event will be featured on the Green Hands USA web site for all to see - and sign up for!

  • And Green Hands USA will also email all volunteers in your area who have signed up on the site to let them know about your event - then they can lend their hands to make your project a success.

Step 4. Get Publicity

Here, too, Green Hands USA will help you. In addition to publicizing the event on the web site, we'll give you additional tools.

  • PRESS RELEASE: Just customize the Press Release template and send it to local newspapers, magazines, radio stations, web sites.

  • FLIERS: Customize the template flier and post them all over your neighborhood: in local supermarkets and delis as well as on the bulletin boards of schools, parks, religious institutions and groups like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the YMCA, etc. Make sure to put on the flier that kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Step 5. Tools and Supplies You'll Need

The event leader should bring:

  • Sign-up Sheets and clipboards - helpful in case of emergency

  • First-aid Kits for cuts and scratches

Let your volunteers know they'll need to bring:

  • recyclable garbage bags

  • gardening gloves

  • gardening tools, large and small shovels, rake, etc.

  • water/snacks

  • trees (see below)

  • sunscreen, hats, sunglasses

  • clothes that can get dirty.

Where to Get Supplies

Ask volunteers to bring as many items as possible from home. Include this information in your description of your event on Green Hands USA and in later updates to volunteers about your event.

Useful Website resources for cleanup supplies:

Biodegradable gloves, recyclable garbage bags:

Moneysaver Tip: To save money, ask local hardware and grocery stores to donate many of these supplies or help underwrite the costs. They are often happy to be associated with good, green events - especially if you add their names as sponsors to your publicity efforts.

Step 6. Pick the Right Trees for the Site

Planting tress isn't rocket science - but it does help to get a little advice to make sure the plants will survive and thrive.

  • Go to nurseries in your area (or even contact your city's arborist -check out this handy arborist database- and ask for advice.

  • Not only will the nursery owners and staff be happy to give guidance, many may also donate some or all of the trees you'll need.

  • Plant trees that can withstand a little roughhousing -- this is a public space after all! And select those that are best for your geographical zone and soil type.

  • Choose trees that are native to your area -- they use less water and are better adapted to thrive in your region.

Step 7. Planting Tips for Trees

Now you're ready to dig in and beautify! Here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Dig your hole a couple of inches deeper than the root ball (the bottom wrapped part of the tree that contains the roots) and twice as wide.

  • If the soil is hard, break it up a bit with a shovel or a hoe.

  • If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, simply untie it and leave it at the bottom of the hole-the burlap will disintegrate into organic matter over time).

  • If necessary, knock away the "shoulders" - the soil surrounding the roots at the top and sides - so the roots can spread apart easily once they are in the ground.

  • Place the tree in your hole, and fill in the area around the root ball with soil, making sure that there are no air pockets.

  • Build the soil up in a mound around the tree's trunk, slightly taller than the surrounding earth. This way, when you water the plant and soil washes away, there will be plenty of extra soil to cover the vulnerable roots.

  • Water your tree for quite a while as soon as you're done planting to thoroughly drench the roots and help it settle in to its new home!

Step 8. Follow Up with a Watering Plan

New trees need lots of water - daily for the first week or so - especially if the weather gets hot and there is no rain. If the school does not have someone who can handle the daily watering, arrange for a volunteer to take on the water duty. You want to make sure that your trees continue growing for years to come!

Step 9. Time to Party!

Bring water and snacks for the volunteers to keep them happy and hydrated as they dig and plant. In addition, you might want to plan a little party afterwards to celebrate the new improved grounds - and all the health, economic and environmental benefits your community will reap.



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National Green Volunteer Day

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  2. Get All Necessary Permits
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