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Philly Will Get 950 More Street Trees This Weekend

And you're invited to help the PHS Tree Tenders reach this ambitious goal.


phs tree tenders street tree planting

A Tree Tenders volunteer group plants a street tree in a Philadelphia neighborhood. This action will be repeated 950 times between today and Sunday. | Photo: Courtesy Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The campaign to expand Philadelphia’s anemic tree canopy has a volunteer division. And this weekend, thousands of those volunteers will hit the streets in order to gain more territory in this ongoing fight.

Those volunteers belong to Tree Tenders, the urban tree planting and stewardship program organized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Between now and Sunday, Nov. 18th, hundreds of them will plant 950 more street trees all over the city and a good chunk of its suburbs.

This should bring joy to the hearts and wallets of homeowners, for studies have shown that trees both reduce household energy consumption and increase house values.

Tree Tenders take a course that teaches them the fundamentals of the planting, care and feeding of street trees

“Tree Tenders gain the knowledge of what types of trees are best for this area, where to plant them, how to plant them, and how to overcome the misconception that trees buckle sidewalks and rupture water lines,” says PHS Communications Manager Kevin Feeley. “They also get the tools they need to maintain them, and they learn what trees to plant so as to avoid interfering with power lines.”

Tree Tenders volunteers will plant and perform basic maintenance for residents who request trees on their block. They also go door-to-door to ask residents if they would like a street tree in front of their property.

Since the program began in 1993, more than 5,000 Tree Tenders have graduated the course and formed 105 volunteer tree care groups in the city and another 137 in the suburbs. Of those, 179 have been active over the past year, and this weekend, 58 of them, including six brand new groups, will participate in planting projects large and small. Some of the most notable ones include:

  • The “Pathway of the Patriots” project, a partnership involving the PHS, the Daughters of the American Revolution and USA 250 that will plant 250 trees along the Schuylkill from Bartram’s Garden to Valley Forge Park in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of American independence.
  • The Esperanza tree planting in the Hunting Park neighborhood. A grant from the TD Green Streets program led to the development of the first bilingual Tree Tenders program in partnership with Esperanza, a faith-based nonprofit that works to strengthen Philadelphia’s Hispanic communities. On Saturday, Nov. 19th, Esperanza Tree Tenders groups will plant 39 trees on the streets of Hunting Park.
  • Tree planting in the River Wards, Northern Liberties and South Kensington. A $66,000 grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District will allow three Tree Tenders groups to plant 200 trees in Fishtown, Northern Liberties, South Kensington and Old Richmond.

Feeley says this should also help Tree Tenders grow more. “Many of these plantings welcome volunteers to help, with no experience required,” he says. “They’re using these to bring people in so they can learn what’s happening on the ground. And maybe after that, [the new volunteers] will enroll in the Tree Tenders program and learn how to organize plantings themselves.”

Want to participate? A complete list of plantings and events can be found at the PHS website. If you’re ready to learn more, you can register for winter training classes here.