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Take Root program back this fall with more free trees

Initiative sees 1,000 trees given out to Guelph residents in hopes of increasing canopy coverage
Take Root, a tree giveaway program that provides property owners with free native trees for their homes and neighbourhoods.

If you missed out this spring, there is still time this fall for Guelph residents who would like to take part in Take Root, a tree giveaway program that provides property owners with free native trees for their homes and neighbourhoods.

The City of Guelph, partnered with Forests Ontario and Trees for Guelph, makes tree planting accessible as part of the city’s One Canopy Strategy to grow 1,000 trees in 2023.

The strategy aims to increase tree planting efforts across the city using a mix of public and private land to achieve 40 per cent canopy cover.

Take Root aims to get more trees in Guelph yards. 

“Right now, Guelph is leading the way. It is the first municipality to take part in the program,” said Amy Howitt, program coordinator at Forests Ontario/Forest Recovery Canada.

“This is a two-year pilot project that we are running, But I have a feeling that it will continue.”

Howitt said that so far, the demand for trees in Guelph has been huge.

“The City of Guelph had identified a target of 40 per cent canopy cover and so the only way you can really get there is by engaging residents to plant in their yard,” Howitt said.

“We are actually distributing 1,400 trees this month. I think it surprised everyone as we were really hoping for a successful program, and well, so far, it sure is.”

The Take Root program was designed to help municipalities:

  • Engage local communities and provide them with the resources needed to properly plant and care for their urban forest cover.
  • Empower local communities to act by providing training and knowledge in becoming stewards of the urban forest for the long term.
  • Enable local communities to participate in urban planting events and contribute to increasing a healthy urban forest cover in their neighbourhoods.
  • Provide an equitable program where everyone has an opportunity to a low- or no-cost native tree or shrub.
  • Enhance environmental co-benefits through activities that will help create healthy, resilient forests as well as improve the physical and mental well-being of residents and their communities.

“Each resident is eligible to get up to two trees per season if they have the space. And then they are also eligible to come back in the fall,” Howitt said.

Howitt said Take Root is a great way to get the community involved and make trees more accessible.

“The trees are provided at no cost to people. The cost is really their time to pick them up and learn how to properly plant and look after them,” Howitt said.

“Essentially, they are participating in the bigger goal of reaching 40 per cent canopy cover within the community.”

Residents with private yards can learn more about what tree would be best for their property at

There will be just under 800 trees distributed on May 13. Another event will take place on the 28th and there will also be a pick up at Riverside Park on the 27th.

Limited quantities are available. But Howitt said if you missed out this spring, don’t worry. Take Root will be back in fall 2023 with more trees.

“Registration is closed for pick ups this month, but people can visit our website and be put on a waiting list for upcoming pickup dates in the fall,” Howitt said.

Residents who register for a Take Root tree are responsible for planting and care of the tree.

“We try to offer a really great variety of trees because every yard is different and we are really encouraging people to take a look at their yard and consider factors like how much space they have, what else is growing around, and how much sunlight they are getting,” Howitt said.  

Take Root offers 19 different species including deciduous and a variety of coniferous trees for those looking for more privacy.    

“We have sugar maple, red maple, oak, and Kentucky coffee tree which is an interesting one as well as it has really big pods on it,” Howitt said.

“There’s something for everyone. We also have small deciduous trees such as service berry and dog wood. These are more like shrubs, ideal for people who have less space in their yards.”

Howitt said trees have countless benefits.

“Trees promote mental wellbeing and reduce stress. They make cities more beautiful and there are so many environmental benefits too such as reducing air pollution, providing oxygen and keeping the city a bit cooler as well,” Howitt said.

“More trees reduce that heat island effect that cities tend to have because of all of the concrete holding the heat. Trees also improve water filtration and reduce storm water runoff. There’s just so many benefits”.

Take Root looks to discuss similar programs with other municipalities in the future.

“We would love to see the program expand. Many cities like Guelph have identified the need for more trees,” Howitt said.

He's thrilled with the program's response in Guelph so far.

“So many people have been interested and have reached out,” Howitt said.

“There’s lot of positive feedback from people in Guelph, and there's a lot of people looking for trees.”

For more information, visit