Elizabeth Black, who lives in Boulder, Colorado

Your Neighborhood Christmas Tree Farm

Chris Brown, who lives in Boulder, Colorado

Tree Give-Away to Combat Global Warming

Since 2007, Your Neighborhood Christmas Tree Farm has given away 300-900+ small seedling trees each summer. After viewing “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore's moving film about global warming , we decided we had to do something to help combat climate change. Growing trees to give away seemed like something we could do to help the planet.

We usually give the trees away over the first weekend in June. We usually have 1 – 3 foot tall hackberries, ginnala maples, locusts, chokecherries and catalpas. Sometimes we also have Russian hawthornes, golden rain trees, golden currants, horse chestnuts, Kentucky coffee trees, the agressive north Boulder rose, and more.
Seedling nursery: catalpas, Golden Rain and ash seedlings for next year.
Seedling nursery: catalpas, golden rain and hackberry seedlings for next year.

We grow the trees from seed on our farm, starting them in the greenhouse and then moving them into bigger pots as they grow. We grow free-seeding varieties which are very hardy in our climate. All our trees are drought resistant, but of course will grow faster and fix more carbon with extra water. However, you should not get one of our seedlings if you are looking for a special clone or non-seeding variety of tree.

Although growing trees fixes carbon and helps combat global warming, it is not a final solution to the problem. The tree eventually dies or is cut down, and burns or rots, returning carbon to the atmosphere. But planting trees does buy us more time to find long term solutions. Please be sure to plant your tree right away, and take good care of it. It won’t help the climate if you plant a tree, and then kill it with neglect.

Giving away seedlings for free - combat global warming


“There are 2 good times to plant a tree: 20 years ago and today.”

Boulder Colorado's dry climate and generally poor, alkaline soils present some difficulties for trees. Our soils are usually a shallow layer of compact clay with rocks, over a very dense clay subsoil that is hard for roots to penetrate. Healthy, long-lived urban trees get off to a good start when we pay attention to some tree-planting fundamentals.

LOCATE LOGICALLY - Trees need room to develop root systems underground and branches above ground. Don't plant trees that will grow too large in small areas. Also avoid planting large trees under power or telephone lines or too close to buildings. Consider planting for energy conservation. Deciduous trees will shade the west, south and east sides of the home in summer, and evergreen trees along the west and north edges of the lot will provide winter windbreaks. Think about the mature size and shape of trees and whether their roots might invade sewer lines, lift and crack sidewalks or make bumpy lawns.

DIG DILIGENTLY BUT CAUTIOUSLY - To prepare the site, mark a circle or square at least 3 times the diameter of the tree's rootball. Excavate the area with a pick and/or spade, to the height of the rootball. Leave the bottom of the hole firm and undisturbed. To the excavated soil, add 25 percent, by volume, of a coarse organic amendment, such as sphagnum peat, compost or aged manure. Mix it well with the excavated soil; this becomes your backfill.

PLANT PROPERLY - If you can't plant right away, keep the tree in a cool, shady, protected spot and keep the roots moist. Try to plant trees when the weather is cool, cloudy and humid, but not windy. Remove any plastic or fiber containers from the rootball. Place the tree upright in the center of the planting hole. If the roots of a containerized tree are potbound, "tease out" some of the roots and shallowly slit the rootball's sides with your finger or a knife, but be sure the rootball stays intact. Shovel backfill into the hole; continue until roots are covered and most of the backfill is used. Don't tamp the soil with your feet.

FERTILIZE FRUGALLY! - Don't put fertilizer into the planting hole; it may cause root injury. Next spring, fertilize young trees lightly. Root stimulator solutions have negligible value.

**WATER WELL** - THIS IS THE KEY THING TO YOUR TREE’S SURVIVAL IN OUR ARID CLIMATE! Water the soil at relatively low pressure. Let the water, not your foot, settle the soil. If the soil settles below grade, add more backfill. When done, the planting area should be well-soaked and moist backfill should barely cover the top of the rootball. Watering frequency depends on the soil, not the calendar. Dig with a trowel on the edge of the planting area. Soil that feels moist and holds together when squeezed doesn't need water. Overwatering drives air from the soil, causing root suffocation, but generally count on watering about every two weeks at first. Mulching and heavy clay will reduce watering frequency; sandy loose soil increases it. Send your trees into winter with a good supply of moisture by watering them thoroughly in fall. Water once a month during extended warm, dry periods of winter to prevent drought damage to roots. This is especially important the first year. If you are planting a row of trees or shrubs, consider installing a soaker hose or simple drip line to make your watering easier. See www.p2pays.org/ref/20/19759.htm for more information on designing drip systems.

PRUNE PRUDENTLY - A newly planted tree needs only minimal pruning. Prune out only dead, diseased or injured branches. Research shows that transplanted trees establish quicker when as much foliage as possible remains. If you do prune, don't use pruning compounds on pruning cuts.

STAKE SENSIBLY - Don't stake small trees or those not in the wind's path. Trees can be staked too tightly or for too long. To stake, run wire through grommeted staking straps or use wide strips of carpeting.  This way, the straps, not the wire, passes around the trunk. A year of staking usually is sufficient.

DETER THE DEER – Boulder’s healthy deer population likes to eat young trees, but the most significant damage to trees comes from bucks practicing their sparring. The bark from a tree can be totally stripped off, and the tree whipped and broken to a stump, overnight. The most effective protection is a single fence-post driven into the ground about a foot from your new tree, with a 2 foot high cylinder of sturdy wire encircling your tree wired to the post. You can position the wire off the ground so that it is easy to get a mower underneath, and raise it up higher on the post as your tree grows. The wire gets tangled in the bucks’ antlers, which they don’t like, and they will leave your tree alone. (Diagram below.)

MULCH MEANINGFULLY - A forest tree provides its own mulch with several inches of leaves on the ground. We can imitate this by mulching the planting area with 3 to 4 inches of wood chips, chunk bark, straw, pine needles or shredded leaves. Don't use plastic beneath the mulch; water or air can't penetrate it. Fabric-type weed-barriers are preferable. One thing you won't see in the forest is manicured lawns around a tree. Research shows that newly planted trees are at a disadvantage when they must compete with grass for water, air and nutrients. Keep grass out of the planting area for at least one year. If you mulch around trees, instead of planting grass, you also prevent possible trunk damage by lawn mowers or string trimmers.

WRAP IN WINTER - Use crepe paper or other wraps on your deciduous tree trunks starting around Thanksgiving; remove the wraps around Easter. Do this for the first 2 to 3 seasons. This protects young trees from winter sunscald.

how to plant seedlings - protect from deer

drip irrigation schematic for your trees
Drip Irrigation Schematic for windbreak

tree planting instructions
Tree Planting Diagram

"It’s better to put a $10 tree into a $100 hole than a $100 tree in a $10 hole

copyright © 2010; Your Neighborhood Christmas Tree Farm; all rights reserved
Elizabeth Black and Christopher Brown
4340 N 13th St., Boulder CO 80304

Serving Colorado's Front Range, including Boulder, Denver, Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, Superior, Erie, Westminster, Broomfield, and surrounding areas.