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Here’s how to get a free tree in Philly

Tree Philly wants to make us the city of “arborly” love.
Tree Philly gives away thousands of free trees each year. | Photo courtesy of Tree Philly
Tree Philly gives away thousands of free trees each year. Photo courtesy of Tree Philly

Free tree? Yes, there’s a Philly program that gives away thousands of free trees each year and it’s called Tree Philly.

A part of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, they’ve been giving away trees since February 2012 to Philadelphians all over the city, with the help of Fairmount Park Conservancy and TD Bank.

“We’ve given away 20,000 trees since that time,” says Erica Smith Fichman, Tree Philly program manager. “This year, there are 14 different types of trees available, from large shade trees to flowering trees to fruit trees.”

The free tree initiative is part of the city’s goal of reaching 30% tree canopy in each neighborhood. That means that when you look up, 30% of the time you should see trees.

“The point of focusing on canopy versus the number of trees is because the canopy is what does all the work,” says Fichman. “It captures all the rain before it hits the ground, and helps reduce flooding. The canopy also captures particulates and cleans our air, provides shade and protection.”

So how do you get a tree? From April 4 through May 9, 12 different tree giveaway events will be held in various neighborhoods throughout the city, in partnership with 20 different community groups. You’ll need to register for a tree in advance on the website, however.

“Our signature event in Cobbs Creek on April 14 had 300 trees available, but we’re already down to 20,” Fichman says. “But there are plenty of other events. Go to one close to where you live in your own community.”

So the early bird gets the tree. Plus, if you attend a local event, you might meet new friends in your neighborhood.

If you’re hesitant about picking up a tree because you don’t know how to plant one, don’t worry. You’ll be taught how to do it.

“At each event, we’ll have a demo on how to plant and care for your tree and you’ll also take home a booklet as well as a free bag of mulch,” Fichman says.

And if space is a concern, Fichman has the following recommendation.

“Depending on the size, you want to plant it at least five feet away from any structures, like your house or even fences,” she says. “You also want to make sure you’re not planting it under any overhead wires, because that can cause problems.”

For more information on tree giveaway events near you, and to register, visit: treephilly.org