‘There’s a multitude of benefits’: Kelowna’s tree planting program celebrates 10 years

Click to play video: 'NeighbourWoods program provides subsidized trees to City of Kelowna residents' NeighbourWoods program provides subsidized trees to City of Kelowna residents
WATCH ABOVE: Community reporter Shay Galor learns about the different trees available through the City of Kelowna’s annual NeighbourWoods program – Apr 2, 2019

The Kelowna NeighbourWoods program is celebrating 10 years of encouraging residents to plant trees, improve air quality and beautify the city.

“It [was] started by our Parks department and we offer trees at a subsidized rate for home owners within the City of Kelowna,” said urban forestry technician Tara Bergeson.

“Trees are available for purchase for $40 and our sale goes until April 7.”

There are six different types of trees available for purchase.

“We have a great assortment that suits any type of situation that you might have for your homes,” Bergeson said. “You want to be respectful if there are power lines nearby, the size of your yard and where in your yard, how much sun exposure it will get and what it’s water needs are.”

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There are two tree varieties that would suit a smaller environment.

“Our smaller options are the Carnival Hedge Maple and that will get about 10 feet tall,” Bergeson said. “The Japanese Tree Lilac is our next tallest tree and that one will get to be about 20 feet tall.”

Those looking for larger trees have several varieties to choose from, ranging from 30 to 80 feet.

“Our medium option is our Prairie Stature Oak which is a new one for us this year and a fantastic option,” Bergeson said. “It actually holds its leaves through the winter which provides you some visual protection and some wind breaks which you don’t often get with a deciduous tree.”

The most popular tree historically is the Autumn Blaze Maple, which sells out every year.

New on the scene: the Redpointe Maple.

“It actually offers some protection against leaf burn which is a common issue in the Okanagan,” Bergeson said.

The City of Kelowna wants to boost the current tree canopy, which was sitting at about 13 per cent in 2007, to 20 per cent.

“There’s a multitude of benefits,” Bergeson said. “Some of the obvious ones are shade, air filtering — so it actually reduces pollution — water conservation, beautification and it can actually increase real estate value by up to 20 per cent.”

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The NeighbourWoods trees come with instructions on proper planting techniques.

“You can find our instructional videos online,” Bergeson said. “But a couple of the main things you want to look for is to make sure you have a hole that’s about twice as wide as the size of the pot of the tree that you’ve purchased.”

Another important tip is not to plant the tree too far into the ground.

“You want to make sure that you’re looking for the root collar which is where your first lateral roots will start and make sure that it’s at or just slightly above ground,” Bergeson said.

Since 2010, about 4,000 trees have been planted through the NeighbourWoods program.

Trees can be purchased online or by calling the city at 250-469-8800. Payment will also be accepted at the Parkinson Recreation Centre.

There are only 600 trees available this year and about two-thirds are already gone. The city expects to sell out by week’s end.

The NeighbourWoods tree pick up is scheduled for April 13 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Mission Recreation Park Arboretum at 4105 Gordon Drive.

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