Planting a tree in your yard offers a host of benefits, from shading your home from the sun (and thus lowering your energy bills), to increasing your property value. Trees can cost a lot, though, so I’m sure you wouldn’t mind getting one for free.
Because trees don’t only benefit you, but beautify your neighborhood—and help combat the effects of climate change—select communities and utility companies nationwide have partnered with the Community Canopy and Energy-Saving Trees to provide free trees to homeowners. Here’s how to find out if you qualify.
How does the Community Canopy and Energy-Saving Trees program work?
Visit the Community Canopy and Energy-Saving Trees website and enter your address to see if your home is eligible for participation in the program. If it’s not, you can click “contact utility” to request your local utility company to partner with Community Canopy and sponsor free or discounted trees in your area. (Tell them it will help contribute to climate resiliency, improve energy efficiency, and provide other valuable community benefits.)
If your address is eligible, this local news video from Edmond, Oklahoma, shows you what to expect from the program.
Energy-Saving Trees Program Gives Free Trees To Edmond Residents
In short, after choosing the species of tree you’d like, you’ll be shown a satellite view of your home that will indicate where a tree can be planted for the greatest benefit. (This is done via a tool that, “calculates where to specifically and strategically plant trees for the greatest energy- and money-saving benefits,” according to the program’s website.) The site claims that planting the tree in that location can reduce energy bills by providing shade, reducing the urban heat island effect, and bringing your home’s energy use down.
What to expect from the program after qualifying
Once you qualify and choose where you’ll plant your new tree, it’ll be sent to you in the mail. You can expect to receive a one- to three-foot-tall tree. The arrival window will depend on what zone number your city is located in on this map.
Check out this video from California’s utility company on what to expect when your tree arrives, and best practices on how to plant it correctly:
PG&E is Offering 1,500 Free Trees to Customers Through Energy-Saving Trees Program
If you have more questions about the program in general, check out the FAQ section on their website.
What should I know about planting a tree near my home?
Planting a tree near your home can lower your energy bills, but there are many other social, communal, environmental, and economic benefits. Trees help improve air quality, reduced stormwater runoff, beautify your neighborhood, increase your property value, reduce urban heat island effect, and reduce your carbon footprint.
You should, however, also be aware of risks planting a tree can bring. Never plant a tree under or close to power lines. Utility companies provide rules that dictate how far and where you should plant trees, depending on the species, to avoid future problems with power lines (and the headache of having city contractors slashing up your tree to reduce the risk of fires, like this).
Other risks you should be aware of are the environmental factors that can impact your tree and, subsequently, your home. Trees, like humans, can get sick and die, and a dead or deteriorating tree can be risky for you and your home, since it can fall over. Take this into consideration when choosing the species of tree you want to plant and determining where to plant it.
A sweet spot for to avoid most tree catastrophes, whether with utility companies or from falling trees striking your home, is to choose a species that grows between 20 and 25 feet tall. Check out this list of recommended smaller trees from California’s utility company (the list starts on page eight).
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