Free curbside trees for the asking

Volunteers planted, mulched and watered trees in the Red Bridge area. Photo by Matt Vander-Molen of the Heartland Tree Alliance

By Jill Draper

Would you like a free street tree planted in your yard along the city’s right-of-way?

Some two dozen residences in Red Bridge and Glen Arbor took part in a tree-planting program on Nov. 17 organized by the Heartland Tree Alliance in partnership with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department.

Volunteers planted, mulched and attached slow-release watering bags to a variety of trees like oaks, linden, Kentucky coffee (the seedless type), American hornbeam and redbud. The trees were planted in return for a pledge from homeowners to keep them watered on a weekly basis for the first two years.

“We try to stay native as much as possible, but we use some grafted varieties because of size limitations,” says Matt Vander-Molen, a program associate with the Heartland Tree Alliance, who notes that plantings are done between October through mid-December and March through May each year.

The trees must be planted within the public right-of-way—the area between the sidewalk and the street or within approximately 10-15 feet of the street. Each area is evaluated on a case by case basis to make sure it’s suitable and that a tree won’t block a traffic sign or street light or be too close to an intersection.

At the time of planting, all trees are about 1 inch in diameter and 8-10 feet tall. A certified arborist selects the type of tree for each site with an eye toward increasing diversity in the neighborhood. But none of the trees will have messy fruit or other nuisance issues.

Tom Schroeder, who lives on 113th Street, signed up for the program more than a year ago and now is the caretaker of two new trees, an oak and a basswood. “A few years ago the city had to remove a 63-year-old tree that was dying and it left a huge gap on the street,” he says, adding that he’s happy with the choices made by the arborist because both the new trees will grow to support a variety of wildlife.

If you don’t have enough space (generally 5 feet between a sidewalk and the street is required) or your yard isn’t suitable or you don’t need any additional trees, the alliance still welcomes residents to participate as planting volunteers.

The Heartland Tree Alliance operates through Bridging The Gap, a nonprofit that aims to connect environment, economy and community. During the last three years more than 14,000 trees have been planted in the city with the goal of providing shade, increasing property values, slowing traffic, improving air quality and catching stormwater runoff.

For more information see or call 816-561-1087.

1 thought on “Free curbside trees for the asking

  1. We planted 30 trees in Red Bridge. I spent two years organizing this effort, including visiting over 500 homes to scout out locations for these trees. The effort will continue in the spring for the remainder of Red Bridge.

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