Elizabeth City improving “urban canopy” by providing free trees to homeowners

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 10, 2013

Elizabeth City, N.C. –Elizabeth City is starting up a program to provide and plant trees for homeowners in the city's right-of-way in front of their homes at no charge.

Along Cedar Street in Elizabeth City, the changing seasons make for some spectacular scenery.

“When the trees that are down this road all bloomed, we had white blossoms everywhere, and it just looked really, really beautiful,” said Nicole Audette.

They were everywhere, that is, except in front of her house.

Since the other trees lining her street are all located next to the street on the city’s right-of-way, she called the city to see if some more could be added.

It turns out she called at just the right time.

Within a few weeks of calling, Audette had two new trees.

The city has planted trees around town before, but this is different.  The goal with this new project is to get homeowners actively involved.

“We want the trees to be protected and we want them to take the initiative in helping with the trees,” said Jeffrey Simpson, Parks Superintendent.

In the past, Simpson says some of the trees that line neighborhood streets have seen some abuse.  Homeowners have cut them down, some have been damaged in storms and others lost to disease.

That's why they need homeowners who care enough to keep them healthy.

“If the homeowners would take care of the trees, then in the future you won't have any problems, so it starts at this young age,” said Simpson.

So far they've planted five trees for homeowners.

By improving the “urban canopy,” as it's called, the city hopes it'll help out the environment and at the same time just make the city look even more beautiful.

“As people come and visit our city, we'd like to say that we're real proud of what we have here,” said Simpson.

They'll be planting different species and different sizes depending on where they'll be located.  The sizes can range from 8’ – 20’ tall.  While some factors will play a role in the type of tree selected, like making sure it won’t be tall enough to grow into power lines, they will try to give homeowners some choices.

As for Audette, she knows she has some Crape Myrtles now, but whether they will match the other white blooms on her street or add a pop of color, is a mystery.

“It'll be a surprise, something to look forward to,” Audette said.

If you're interested in having a tree planted in front of your house, call the Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation Department at (252) 335-1424.

They’ll be planting through the end of this month and then starting back up in October.