Yes, as long as 1) you live in one of the selected neighborhoods, and 2) you have enough space on your property for a new tree to spread out and fully develop.
An ideal site will have at least thirty feet of space free of obstructions (please see this diagram of a typical yard). But if you are short on space, please contact us anyways, and we will do our best to fit a tree into your yard!
Please note that we do require Canopy Project trees to be planted at least five feet outside the drip line of existing trees (click here for a diagram). In other words, we will not plant Canopy Project trees underneath existing ones. Our goal is to place the trees where they can have the largest impact on the environment and the community.
We will help you select the tree and choose the site. We will also either deliver the tree or plant it for you according to your preferences.
The first step to receive your free tree(s) is to complete a tree request form. After receiving your request we will send you a confirmation email that includes a site visit date. Site visits take place between 1 and 5 p.m. on weekdays (please note that we are unable to schedule an exact time). You do not need to be home.
During the site visit, we will determine ‘the right tree for the right place’ by taking into account yard characteristics such as sun exposure, soil type, moisture levels, neighboring trees, and nearby infrastructure. We will create a list of recommended species that would best fit your site and mark potential planting locations with white flags. If you have an exact spot in mind for your new tree, you may wish to place a marker (such as a stake labeled “TREE” or small homemade flag) in that spot prior to our visit.
Next we will contact you by phone or email to discuss the proposed planting locations and to share the list of recommended species (usually 3-5 choices, based on availability). We will also provide you with a short description of each species. Either you can let us choose the species for you, or you can narrow the list down to your top two choices.
Finally, we will schedule the planting date. Depending on your preferences, UTA staff and volunteers will either plant the tree for you or deliver the tree for you to plant yourself. You will also receive mulch and instructions for planting, watering, and caring for your new tree. Even if you choose to plant the tree yourself, we will contact digger’s hotline for you.
The trees are two-and-a-half to seven feet tall (height varies by species). They are planted in five gallon containers. You can see our trees in the photos above!
An important goal of this program is increasing the species diversity of Madison’s urban forest. A diverse urban forest is more resilient and less susceptible to damages caused by diseases and pests, such as the emerald ash borer.
Our planting list includes chinquapin oak, bur oak, swamp white oak, Hill’s oak, pecan, Kentucky coffee tree, American linden, sour gum, sycamore, catalpa, cucumbertree magnolia, bald cypress, ironwood, musclewood, American beech, American larch, yellow birch, Ohio buckeye, serviceberry, pagoda dogwood, and redbud. Please note that not all species are available at all times.
We will work with you to choose the best species for your property. Through the tree request form you will have the opportunity to tell us what features of a tree, such as whether it produces food for wildlife or has good fall color, are important to you. When we visit your property and examine site characteristics we will create a list of suitable trees for your yard (usually 3-5 choices, based on availability). You will get one of your top two tree choices from this list.*
Why do we do it this way? Because understanding site characteristics is a critically important part of planting trees to ensure 1) they remain healthy for years to come and 2) don’t cause problems for you or others in the future. For example, bur oaks can adapt to most types of soil, whereas American beeches are temperamental and require precise growing conditions. Ironwood can be placed quite close to buildings and pavement, while sycamores need a wide berth. We are here to help you make the best possible choice!
Also, please note that the Madison Canopy Project will only plant small trees (serviceberries, pagoda dogwoods, and redbuds) if our staff determines there is not enough space in a yard for a larger tree because of obstacles such as power lines and buildings. Larger trees have more environmental, economic, and social benefits, so we plant them whenever possible!
*Please let us know early on if you’re a bit of a tree geek like us and you really want to get your hands on a certain species from our planting list. You may include this information on the tree request form under the question “Is there anything else you would like us to know?” We’ll see what we can do!
You have two choices. You can plant it yourself or we can plant it for you.
We will certainly try to make it happen! As long as we receive all the required permissions, we are open to planting trees near apartment buildings, at schools or churches, in parks and other open spaces – pretty much anywhere a tree is likely to thrive. Check out our Citizen Forester Program and contact us to find out more.
Neighborhoods were selected based on existing canopy cover. Neighborhoods with canopies that are relatively compared to the city as a whole have been given priority.
We rely on grants and donations from groups and individuals to support the Madison Canopy Project. We have received funding from the Wisconsin DNR, Madison Gas and Electric, and the Dane County Bar Association, Madison Community Foundation, and Bock Foundation to pay for trees, transportation costs, staff, and other expenses.
Remember, the more donations we receive, the more trees we can plant! If you find this program valuable, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.
Return to tree request form