Concord wants to plant more trees – can they use your front yard?

That tree in the middle of the picture now belongs to a property on South Spring Street. And it’s really up to you if you want to drive up and down the street to see if you can find the tree.
That tree in the middle of the picture now belongs to a property on South Spring Street. And it’s really up to you if you want to drive up and down the street to see if you can find the tree.
This little tree was planted on Auburn Street.
This little tree was planted on Auburn Street.
Look at those General Services guys making sure that tree is nice and comfortable in its new home.
Look at those General Services guys making sure that tree is nice and comfortable in its new home.

Have you ever thought about adding something new to your front yard landscape? Do you have a nosy neighbor across the street who you’d like to prevent from watching through your front windows? Or are you just a big fan of nature and like surrounding yourself with it?

Well, if any of the above applies to you, then you’ve definitely chosen the right story to read this week. You may not know this, but the city of Concord will actually come to your house and plant a tree in your yard. Really, no joke.

Concord’s Sustainable Street Tree Program is less than two years old, but has already seen more than 40 trees planted within the city limits (and that includes Penacook). There was a similar program years ago, but it was brought back in an effort to add more trees to the aging canopy, which in turn will help improve air quality, produce more shade and beautify the city.

“Part of our work is unfortunately to remove sick and dying trees,” said General Service Director Chip Chesley. “So we’re trying to restore the canopy, but we do take down more trees than we plant.”

So if you’re in the market for some new trees on your property, you might want to make a quick phone call to General Services to let them know you’re interested, because they’re looking for more residents to take part. But there are a few rules/tips you should probably know about first.

Owning the property is a good idea, because once the tree is planted, it’s yours. Sure, you could ask your landlord to sign off on it, as long as they know they will become tree guardians once you move out.

“Once it’s planted, they become responsible for the tree,” said Angelina Bossone, communications coordinator for General Services.

The tree must be in the front yard and within 10 feet of the closest edge of the sidewalk – or the curb if you live in a part of town where sidewalks in front of homes aren’t really necessary. A nice open spot is better, because this is a tree after all, which will have rather large roots once it grows to be a ripe old age.

“The more grass area you have around it, the better,” Chesley said.

You will be responsible for the cost associated to actually purchase the tree, which is plus or minus $200, but that’s it in terms of moolah out of your pocket. The city plants it, teaches you how to care for it and prunes it in the fall of the first year – and you don’t have to pay them. Although we’re pretty sure they will gladly accept a pleasant conversation, a nice wave or a welcoming smile if you want to pay them in some way.

“We’re trying to help the residents keep the cost down,” said Jim Major, highways and utilities superintendent.

“Basically you get a tree and a licensed arborist for the year,” said Ryan Rambeau, tree supervisor for the city.

And remember, you need to make a commitment to care for this tree. Think of this as your wooden child. Once your tree is planted, you will receive a Gator Bag, which will be attached to the trunk and needs to be filled twice a week – with water, of course. Most of the trees come with a caliper (the tree’s diameter) between two and two and half inches. And for every inch of caliper, one year of care is required on your part.

“The bigger the caliper the bigger the root zone, so I try to stay below three inches,” Rambeau said.
Now when you decide to take part in the program and make the inquiry, Rambeau will come to your house and check things out, like where the power lines are and the soil availability, andhe’ll also locate the sewer, gas and water lines. You will discuss potential spots in the yard and check out the long list of tree species on his iPad.

“I’ll give suggestions, but ultimately it has to be something we both agree upon,” Rambeau said.
Once you’ve chosen a spot and Rambeau has a few trees you’d like to look at, there’s a pretty official application you must go into the office to fill out. It even has to be notarized.

“I hand pick all the trees, so I want to go to the nursery with two options,” Rambeau said.

Then all you do is pay so Rambeau can get the tree and a planting date will be set for the tree crew to come and do their thing. Planting only occurs in the spring, but that gives you time right now to pick a spot, contact Rambeau and get on the list for next year. No point in waiting ‘till winter is over to do all the work ‘cause if you do it now, you might be one of the first to be planted when the ground thaws.

“It would be nice to drive down all theses roads when I retire and say ‘I planted that tree,’ ” Rambeau said.

Property owners can make a request for two trees to be planted each year, and with the ability to plant upwards of 40 trees a spring, the city is looking for more residents to get involved.

“Once people participate in the program, they come back,” Chesley said. “So the more we get the word out, the more people will participate.”

For more info, visit
concordnh.gov/generalservices and click on the sustainable tree program link under street maintenance.

Author: Tim Goodwin

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