FREE TREES AVAILABLE, JUST IN TIME FOR SPRING PLANTING

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) – along with partners the RI Tree Council, Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Arbor Day Foundation – is giving over 2,000 trees away to Rhode Islanders this spring through the Energy-Saving Trees program. Registration opens on Friday, April 12. Now in its eighth year, this popular semiannual program helps Rhode Islanders save energy and lower their utility bills by strategically planting trees on their property. 

“Planting trees in our neighborhoods makes them greener and provides shade to keep people cooler and healthier in hot weather. These are investments in our communities and the quality of life throughout Rhode Island, particularly in our cities. From an environmental perspective, planting a tree in the right place can improve air quality, capture and store carbon, and help manage stormwater runoff,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “It’s a terrific way for Rhode Islanders to reduce their energy costs today and in the years to come, and a tangible way to stand up to climate change.”

Planting the right tree in the right place is the key to maximizing the energy-saving benefits trees provide. When planted properly, a single tree can save homeowners money on energy costs by shading their home in the summer and blocking cold winds in the winter. Additional benefits include improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, and beautifying your surroundings.

This season, participants in the program will have the option to reserve one tree that can be picked up at one of four tree pickup events as well as one tree that will be mailed directly to their home. Species for in-person pickup will include paw paw, tree lilac, Kousa dogwood, Princeton elm, bald cypress, and tulip tree.  Trees species for direct mailing include white flowering dogwood, eastern redbud, river birch, pin oak, sycamore, sugar maple, and black cherry. DEM partners with the Arbor Day Foundation to secure trees from local regional nurseries that are acceptable for Rhode Island’s climate for the Energy-Savings Trees Program. The trees that were selected are known to do well in Rhode Island without being invasive, are less likely to be affected by pests, and provide the same energy-saving benefits. To maximize the fossil fuel-reducing and energy cost-reducing aspects of the program, DEM balances the benefits of native trees which increase biodiversity with the benefits of trees that are easy to grow in a variety of different spaces and conditions because not every Rhode Islander has the same backyard. The process to reserve your free tree only takes a few minutes.

  1. Sign up at www.arborday.org/RIDEM and map your house by using the interactive mapping tool.
  2. Select your chosen species by choosing from the list of available trees.
  3. Reserve your tree and select your pick-up location.
  4. Plant!!

The trees for in-person pickup will be about four to six feet tall each and are in three-gallon containers. These trees fit in most cars for transportation to your home. Trees that are mailed directly to participants’ homes will be smaller and arrive in one-gallon containers. All program participants must be Rhode Island residents and pre-register online beginning on April 12 to reserve their free tree.

Funding for the program is provided by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. For online registration assistance, please contact the Arbor Day Foundation at 1-855-234-3801. For more information about the Rhode Island Energy-Saving Trees Program, please visit the DEM Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment (DAFE) Urban and Community Forestry webpage or follow DAFE on Facebook.