NeighborWoods

Get free trees for your home.

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TreeFolks NeighborWoods is sponsored by Austin Energy in partnership with the City of Austin’s Community Tree Division to lower summer temperatures and reduce energy consumption by investing in tree canopy cover for Austin area neighborhoods.  Urban trees decrease energy bills for residents, reduce maintenance costs for streets and storm water infrastructure, increase property values by making neighborhoods more beautiful, walkable, and desirable places to live, and combat the urban heat island effect. TreeFolks began delivering free trees through the NeighborWoods program in 2002.

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HOW IT WORKS

TreeFolks staff and volunteers evaluate entire neighborhoods during summer and fall looking for places where there is room to plant a tree. We mark yards that qualify to receive a free tree with a flag and leave an order form on the home’s door handle.  You may also call or email us to request an evaluation of your yard. Residents who agree to plant and water the tree(s) for at least 2 years may reserve their free trees on our website, by mail or phone. TreeFolks delivers the trees, along with planting and watering instructions, between October and March. We’ll also have two NeighborWoods tree giveaways where you can pick up a free tree to plant anywhere in your yard. We will announce the giveaway events in our email newsletter, Looking Up!–News from the Urban Forest.

THE FINE PRINT

Really, there’s no catch. We love trees, and we love giving them away even more! The only requirements are that the trees must be planted in the Austin Energy service area, and that there be enough room on the property for the tree’s needs at maturity. Large stature (shade) trees must be planted at least 20 feet from an existing tree or structure, while shorter (understory) trees can be planted 10 feet apart and are appropriate for areas with overhead power lines or limited planting space.

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What about Fruit Trees?

Did you know TreeFolks provides fruit and nut trees? In fact, during the 2015/2016 planting season, we gave out 2,197 fruit and nut bearing trees. Wow! If you are looking for information about how to care for your home orchard, check out this Urban Orchard Resource Guide.

Should I plant trees during drought — even under watering restrictions?

Yes!  You should plant trees even during drought and here’s why: trees conserve water.  Trees provide shade that lowers air temperatures, thereby conserving water loss due to evapotranspiration beneath the tree canopy.  Trees also intercept rainfall, slowing runoff and allowing surrounding soil to absorb the precious water.  Over their lifetimes, trees help recharge aquifers and clean more water than it takes to establish them.  An average large shade tree will live 100 years and recycle $37,500 worth of water.  This exceptional drought and resultant canopy loss is all the more reason to plant new trees and maintain the existing trees on your property. NeighborWoods trees are carefully chosen for their drought and heat tolerance, requiring less water to become established than larger trees or trees that are not as well adapted to our climate.  Follow the watering guidelines below to ensure that no water will runoff or be wasted.

Helpful Watering Tips:

  • Newly planted trees need 15 to 20 gallons of water every week for at least two years. Each week that your yard does not get at least an inch of rain, you need to provide water for your trees up until they are established and producing good leaf growth in spring, or for two years, whichever is later.
  • Create a 3 – 4 inch mulch ring – it preserves soil moisture and feeds your tree!
  • Drill 3 holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, place it right next to the trunk and fill with water. After the water drains move the bucket to a different side of the tree, repeating twice to apply 15 gallons.
  • Leave a hose on a low trickle near the trunk for about 15 minutes to apply 15-20 gallons. This allows water to deeply soak the soil near the rootball.
  • Place a bucket in the sink or shower to catch the excess water and share it with your trees!

What Are the Stage 2 Watering Restrictions for Austin?

Basically, automatic irrigation systems are allowed to run on your designated day before 10 a.m., but hand-watering is allowed anytime. Visit Austin Water’s Stage 2 Restrictions for specific guidelines.

Questions? Use the contact form to send an email or call 512-443-5323.