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Got trees? Get up to four free trees from Seattle starting August 4, 2014

Add some color, shade and cleaner air to your yard
Add some color, shade and cleaner air to your yard
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Do you flee your yard when temps top 80 degrees? It doesn't need to be this way! You just need a tree or two. You can get up to four trees completely FREE from the city of Seattle through its Trees for Neighborhoods ReLeaf program. Applications, which open August 4, 2014, can be filled out online or downloaded and mailed. First come first served, so apply ASAP, especially if you are looking to plant a Street Tree, which has an early deadline of August 25th. (The city will arrange for the required street planting permit for you).

Your trees come with:

  • A watering bag for each tree
  • Training on proper planting and care
  • Assistance applying for street tree planting permits
  • Ongoing care reminders and workshop opportunities, such as pruning

The city urges you to go as big as you can in choosing your tree, because of the wide-ranging benefits, such as:

Healthy, mature tree canopy positively affects issues ranging from health to economic development and sense of community. Urban trees have equally important impacts on the environment. They break up heat islands, decrease flooding from stormwater runoff, absorb carbon dioxide, and shade building leading to a reduction in energy use.

Here are some of my highlights from the list of available trees:

  • Best for compact year-round accent: Parrotia Persica. Lovely dappled bark shines in winter, fall color, and flowers in summer! The others listed "For under power lines" are good small-space trees too.
  • Best for creative hedging: With diligent pruning, American hornbeam (Carpinus) can make a lovely hedge or topiary.
  • Best for Pacific zen: Shore pine (Pinus contorta). "Contorta" means it will take on funky shapes in the wind and look cool year-round.
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