Free tree for your yard

Among the trees available are cultivars of magnolia, left, and cherry, similar to those shown here.

               ROAD iD donation to grow canopy in targeted neighborhoods

COVINGTON, Ky. – The City of Covington has 57 trees to give away, thanks to a donation from Covington firm ROAD iD.

But you have to act fast. And – this is equally important – you have to live in one of 12 neighborhoods: Old Town/Mutter Gottes, Seminary Square, Eastside, Helentown, Austinburg, Westside, West Latonia, Rittes East Latonia, Latonia Milldale, City Heights, Kuhr’s Lane, and Peaselburg.

“It’s first come, first served, and the trees will go fast,” said Cassanda Homan, the City’s urban forester.

The trees, which are available through the OKI Regional Council of Governments’ “Tree for Me” program, consist of six species/cultivars: Eastern redbud, “Thundercloud” cherry-plum, “Merrill” magnolia, “Frontier” elm, London Planetree “Exclamation!” and northern red oak.

When mature, the trees grow anywhere from 20- to 75-feet tall.

Right now, they’re about 6 feet tall in 5- to 7-gallon buckets, much larger than bare-root seedlings typically given away and thus more likely to survive.

Getting your tree

To sign up for a tree, click on OKI’s site HERE, then “Active Tree Distributions” and “Covington” and then follow the directions. If you’re successful, you must pick up the tree at the City’s Forestry Division Garage in Devou Park, HERE, during one of two time periods: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 22 and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 23.  The garage is on Montague Road between Home Road and Sleepy Hollow Road.

The program presents a rare opportunity for the City to make trees available for planting on private property and to steer the plantings to neighborhoods that most need it, Homan said. For eligibility, the City is using OKI’s “environmental justice maps,” which plot where an area falls on measures of income, whether households have cars, and numbers of elderly, disabled, and minorities.

“There is only so many spots along our sidewalks where we can plant trees, so if we want to increase the urban canopy in Covington in a meaningful way, we need to do it on private property as well,” she said. “OKI’s maps help us prioritize the areas that really need it most.”

If all 57 trees aren’t claimed in the next week, the City will open up eligibility to the rest of Covington starting Oct. 20.

One neat feature of the OKI program is that it helps you pick where to plant your tree – once you have a species selected, you can click on a map of your house and see how large the tree will get at maturity. If your planting location is within 20-30 feet of utility lines, choose the “Thundercloud” or redbud; planting canopy trees on the south side of a house will help cool it in the summer and warm it in the winter.

Volunteer planting

Meanwhile, stay tuned for a volunteer tree planting event on Oct. 30 in West Latonia, HERE