Minneapolis 2040: Tree Edition


Minneapolis residents may be wondering who is digging holes in their neighborhoods and dropping little trees in them. It’s the Forestry Division of the Minneapolis Park Board.

Trees are great for the environment. They’re good for public health. They can calm car traffic. Maybe they reduce crime? They definitely make streets vastly more pleasant places to live and spend time.

They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. So I like to think of this as Minneapolis 2040: Tree Edition. Little trees need help becoming the big trees people will rely on in 20 years. Water is maybe the most important thing we can do for them:

Trees younger than five years old need one inch of rainfall each week to stay healthy. If there is not enough rain you should water your trees. Slowly pour at least four five-gallon buckets of water over the tree roots, or put a hose under the tree and let it run gently for one hour.

You can find and adopt a newly planted tree in the boulevard near your home using this interactive map — you can even give your tree a human name.

Green icons are trees that have been adopted already.

Below is a comically ancient video the the Forestry Division of the Park Board actually delivers to your home in DVD format, if you happen to get a tree planted in the boulevard near your home (the boulevard is the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street). This video touts the ability of trees to raise property values and obscure unsightly buildings. You should watch at least the first 30 seconds.

As with other kinds of neighborhood amenities, this Baltimore study found there is a “significantly lower proportion of tree cover on public right-of-way in neighborhoods containing a higher proportion of African-Americans, low-income residents, and renters.” If a lack of trees is a problem in your neighborhood, you can help fix it by requesting some trees. You might even consider organizing a tree canvassing crew to make detailed notes of where trees are needed in your area. 

You can request a free boulevard tree from the Forestry Division by calling 612-313-7710 or emailing forestry@minneapolisparks.org. If you’re unsure how much space is enough for a tree, the Park Board’s website says new trees need at least 25 feet of separation from nearby trees. You don’t have to be the owner or resident of a property to request a planting on the boulevard adjacent to that property. The deadline to request spring plantings is November 1.