Why Are Trees Important?
  • Trees slow down storm flow.
  • Trees reduce storm water runoff.
  • Trees filter pollutants.
  • Trees cool urban heat islands.
  • Trees beautify our communities.
What Can Trees Do For Nashville?

 Nashville’s impervious surfaces have increased by 20% over the past 2 decades in urban areas at a cost in excess of $100 billion nationally. Local governments are increasingly looking toward non-built storm water management strategies, including trees to reduce the cost of constructing storm water control infrastructure.

Some of the intercepted water evaporates back into the atmosphere, and some soaks into the ground reducing the total amount of runoff that must be managed in urban areas. Trees also slow storm flow, reducing the volume of water that a containment facility must store. For example, in the Metropolitan Washington DC region, the existing 46 % tree canopy reduces the need for retention structures by 949 million cubic feet, valued at $4.7 billion per 20-year construction cycle (based on a $5/cubic foot construction cost).

What can I Do For Nashville's Urban Canopy?

· Help Nashville get more roots in the ground! The Cumberland River Compact, Nashville Tree Foundation, and many other environmental non-profits in Nashville offer free trees from September – April each year.

· Volunteer for large scale tree plantings and tree care programs! We always have tree related volunteer opportunities available. Contact Gray Perry or Heather Listermann for more details.

·  Protect your trees from pathogens and disease by pruning properly. Check out the Arbor Day Foundations’ site for tips on  when and  how to prune.

·  Keep an eye out for Emerald Ash Borer and alert a Metro Tree Advisory member if you spot it! This tiny terror is responsible for wiping out Ash trees all over North America and is expected to cost Tennessee billions.


Contact Root Nashville
for more information!


Trees are a remarkably effective and low-cost solution to water pollution, so we are working with the Nashville Tree Foundation, the Tennessee Environmental Council, several Metro Nashville Departments, and a conglomerate other citizen groups to collectively restore Nashville’s tree canopy.

The plan is to plant 500,000 trees between now and 2050, and we have committed to being responsible for at least 10,000 trees between 2016 and 2021. So far, we have planted approximately 6,000 trees and we plan to meet (and possibly exceed) our target of ten thousand before 2021!



The restoration of our urban canopy is dependent upon regular watering of newly planted trees—especially during the first two summers. A recent survey of park trees planted in 2015 and 2016 showed a 60% survival rate; which indicates that newly planted trees with no maintenance plan in place are at a higher risk of fatality. So, we decided to start a program to do just that!

We officially launched the long-awaited Urban Canopy Maintenance Program in December of 2017! This program was established to help care for young trees all over Nashville, and anyone can enroll their trees. Each maintenance package includes one year of watering, pruning, and data collection–and for every paid maintenance package, we are donating a year of maintenance to a tree in the area with greater impermeable surface area, lower canopy coverage, higher average surface temperatures, or socioeconomic disadvantage. There are thousands of trees planted every year in Nashville, and they need a lot of water in their first few years of life to establish a healthy root system. Unfortunately, they often don’t receive the care they require to flourish or even survive. The goal of the Urban Canopy Maintenance Program is to increase their survival rate so that Nashville can continue to restore and expand its urban canopy.


For each paid maintenance package, the Cumberland River Compact will donate one year of maintenance to a tree in need.

$90/year per tree includes:

  • Regular watering
  • Pruning of suckers and shoots
  • Data collection & reporting

See if you qualify for
The Compact’s Tree Water Maintenance Program!

Email Heather Listermann
with the following info:

Phone Number
Postal Code
Number of Trees
Tree Species
Tree Age (Approx)



Young trees need approximately one inch of water per week. During dry times it is important to water your tree at least once a week, sometimes even twice. Always water the tree slowly so the water has time to soak into the soil. As trees age, they are able to withstand a wider range of climate conditions—but it’s good to keep an eye on precipitation patterns, and water when in doubt.


The best time to plant seedlings in the southern U.S. is between mid-December and mid-March, this will give roots time to settle into their new environment and prepare to supply water to the buds and foliage when warmer temperatures arrive. Temperatures that range between 35–60 degrees F are best for planting. Higher temperatures cause transpiration to increase and will dry the roots. Lower temperatures could freeze the roots, causing mortality.

How To Plant A Tree

Determine the best planting location, keeping in mind the location of overhead and underground utilities. Select an area large enough to handle tree at maturity.

Dig hole wider than what seems necessary in order to help the roots spread out more easily, but no deeper than the roots. Remove grass in immediate area to reduce competition for water and nutrients.

Do not plant the tree deeper than its root collar (the bump just above where the roots start). Plant it higher than you think because it will probably settle a little over time. Keeping the root collar from being covered up by dirt helps reduce the chances of root/stem rot. Ensure that all of the roots point down and are not tangled before filling in the hole.

Fill with the soil that came out of the hole. Do not add any other types of soil or fertilizer if possible. If soil amendments are needed, be sure to mix the old and new soil together. Make sure that all air pockets are sealed by applying light pressure to the soil surrounding the seedling. Pack the soil firmly but not tightly.

Construct a small ring by mounding soil around the tree about 2-3 feet away from its base. This ring will act as a water basin by and will help capture and direct water towards the roots.

Water tree thoroughly. Newly planted trees need about an inch of precipitation or 15 gallons of water per week.

Apply a layer of mulch 2 inches deep and 2-3 feet in diameter in a circular shape around tree–and avoid piling mulch up against the trunk. The mulch will keep moisture in the soil and keep lawn mowers and weed eaters away.



Would you like to learn more about trees? We have volunteer opportunities available throughout the year to help plant and care for young trees. For more information on how to support us in our quest to restore and protect Nashville’s urban canopy please contact Heather Listermann.