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Resident shares striking before-and-after footage after transforming their city block with greenery: 'More cities should do this'

"This is so cool."

Tree Tenders

Photo Credit: @andrew_the_arborist / Tiktok

Philadelphia is full of barren streets without a plant in sight, but the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is trying to change that.

Residents can apply for the Tree Tenders program to add a little bit of greenery to their neighborhoods. Here's how.

The scoop

Philadelphia resident and TikToker Andrew the Arborist (@andrew_the_arborist) recently walked viewers through the process in a video. Andrew and his girlfriend applied to have a tree added outside his girlfriend's home — on a street that previously held no trees and only a few sparse planters.

@andrew_the_arborist This is how we got a free street tree as residents of Philadelphia! 🌳 #trees #philly #philadelphia #tree #urbanforestry #urban #city #plants #garden #flower #fyp #nativeplants ♬ original sound - Andrew The Arborist

"We recently requested a free native street tree from the city," Andrew says in the video, showing viewers the online form where they can request up to three new trees for free.

He then describes a visit from a city arborist who inspected the spot to make sure there was enough room and that no underground utilities were in the way. 

"Luckily, we were cleared, and the arborist marked the sidewalk for where the new tree pit will be," Andrew adds.

The next visit was from contractors who cut a square from the concrete to make room for the tree. 

"They also replaced the low-quality soil with high-quality topsoil," he says, sharing pictures of a square of rich, brown dirt ready for planting.

Finally, Andrew and his girlfriend receive their sapling, an Alleghany serviceberry that was planted by volunteers. Andrew describes it as "a small native flowering tree with yummy edible berries" and also shares photos of the white flowers and red fruit.

"We knew there wasn't much space for a large maturing tree like an oak, so we requested a small maturing native tree," Andrew explains. "This way, even when the tree reaches its maximum size, it will not run out of root space or lift up the sidewalk."

Andrew says he and his girlfriend will also be adding native flowers around the base of the trunk.

How it's helping

Trees are a beautiful addition to a neighborhood, and they also provide benefits for residents. Some, like the serviceberry, produce fruit and flowers everyone can enjoy. Meanwhile, trees provide shade and release water vapor into the air, helping cool the area so it doesn't become a "heat island."

Besides cooling the immediate area, trees also help lower the temperature of the Earth. They remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon in their wood.

What people are saying

Commenters on Andrew's video seemed excited about the possibilities. 

"This is so cool! More cities should do this!" said one.

"Did this in Providence!" said another. "Our trees are now 8 years old!"

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