100 Trees for a Cleaner, Greener Cambridge

Committee: Environment

Cost: $141,000

Location(s): Barren sidewalks in East & North Cambridge

Short Description: Let’s green our streets by planting 100 trees in neighborhoods lacking foliage! From cooling heat islands to cleaning our air, these trees will be a long-term investment in making our city a healthier, happier place.

Long Description: We propose planting 100 trees in Cambridge where residents would like to see more foliage and greenery, particularly in areas like East Cambridge (Binney Street) and on Massachusetts Avenue, north of Porter Square. These areas have a noticeable lack of trees (see photos below), and have garnered the most support on the PB idea map.

There is widespread support for additional tree-planting in Cambridge. This year, City residents submitted a total of 10 different proposals asking for more trees in the City, and these proposals have garnered heavy online support (over 100 “supports” on the PB ideas map, especially for proposals focused on Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Porter Squares). Although the City already plants between 300-500 trees every year, residents clearly feel that this is not meeting their needs. Several residents have also asked to replace trees that have either died or been removed. This proposal helps not only add new trees around Cambridge, but replace them, too.

We suggest that when planting, the City include sidewalk stickers or tags to denote the common and scientific name of each tree, and the fact that it was funded by the PB process. Tree labeling was originally a separate PB idea to raise awareness and spark curiosity about the natural world around us. We chose to combine these ideas for increased impact, given the relatively low cost estimated for tree tags alone ($1,000 for 100 trees). We leave it to Public Works and the City Arborist to determine a suitable labeling method for the young trees.

This project will increase the City’s tree-planting capacity by 100 trees beyond what the City normally budgets. This was the number 1 winning project idea during PB1, and 100 trees were successfully planted by fall 2016 throughout East Cambridge, Wellington/Harrington, The Port, and Cambridgeport. Now, residents want to see other areas of Cambridge benefit from having additional trees as well. As Cambridge continues growing and developing, adding 100 more trees, in addition to the 300-500 Cambridge already plants, will provide much needed shade and fresh oxygen to offset pollution and rising temperatures. Trees have also been shown to benefit residents’ overall physical and cognitive health. The impact for residents starts as soon as the tree is planted, and only increases over time; trees are better at absorbing carbon as they mature, so this project is a long-term investment for all Cambridge residents.


Mass. Ave. north of Porter Square:


Showing 13 reactions

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  • Gabriela Romanow
    commented 2018-07-29 22:05:44 -0400
    I agree that trees enhance cities in all of the ways discussed below. I would love for Cambridge to plant more flowering trees, so that they also bring spectacular beauty in springtime, when we all can use a lift after the winter season.
  • Dahal Balkot
    commented 2018-07-29 20:42:28 -0400
    i agree.
  • Astrid Dodds
    commented 2018-02-09 23:44:49 -0500
    Sweet Bay Magnolia is NOT “native to Mass.” Never mind that it is totally inappropriate as a street tree. Here is Wikipedia’s summary of Sweet Bay Magnolia:
    " Magnolia virginiana is an evergreen or deciduous tree to 30 m (100 ft) tall, native to the lowlands and swamps of the Atlantic coastal plain of the eastern United States, from Florida to Long Island, New York. " Neither this magnolia nor any other I have ever seen is an appropriate street tree for Cambridge; it is spreading in its branching habit & needs lots of water. For street trees to happily co-exist with pedestrians on sidewalks, they need to have an upright branching habit.
  • Rethia S
    commented 2018-02-09 17:55:32 -0500
    Sweet Bay Magnolia is native to Massachusetts but is becoming increasingly endangered over the last few years! If Cambridge is going to plant trees, please select for native species that are declining like Sweet Bay Magnolia. It is crucial that we stick with planting endangered native trees to combat extinction for these species.
  • jesse carter
    commented 2018-01-24 08:52:41 -0500
    This was very inspiring! I remember helping my dad plant hundreds of trees across an old land fill when I was younger. We must have been out there for a week or two planting sapling after sapling after sapling. Now, almost 20 years later, that old land fill is filled with pine trees, oaks and wild life. I always encourage my clients to plant trees into their natural area, but you guys took it way farther than I ever have! Great work!

  • Jason Flax
    commented 2018-01-18 19:39:11 -0500
    Go Cambridge go! The environment needs a lot more of this. Keep it up and you’ll compete with Victoria BC, the greenest city in the world, which has hundreds of trees on every street. I found this page while I myself was looking to see if anyone else was starting a campaign to plant 100 trees, which my landscaping company is, and wanted to show my loving support!

    We’re proud of you!
    Wholeheartedly, Jason
  • Astrid Dodds
    commented 2017-12-12 20:00:44 -0500
    Isn’t that St. John’s Church in the upper left? In Nov. 2017 I reported an adolescent treet tree in front of St. Johns that had been knocked slightly askew. I urged the DPW to straighten the tree, add mulch so the exposed roots on one side would be covered. maybe add a filled alligator bag, and add the kind of wire and lumber supports that newly planted trees have. That recipe, would likely save this tree. But no one had done anything 3 weeks later. I think the city needs to spend money on a tree-adoption program before it plants any more street trees, leaving them to fend for themselves. A tree-adoption program requires staff time and costs money. It should be funded before these 100 trees are planted.
  • Debbie New
    commented 2017-12-01 10:24:52 -0500
    Thank you for advocating for more trees! We need all the trees we can get to keep our air clean and our city cool.
    I second Ed Woll’s comment about making sure the tree pits are clear of natural gas. Gas suffocates trees by depriving roots of oxygen. Cambridge has the tool needed to make sure there is no gas leak near where a tree is planted. Please make sure this is part of the plan!
  • Liz Gienger
    commented 2017-12-01 10:02:57 -0500
    …. Didn’t they just remove a whole bunch of trees from Mass Ave in Central Square? Now we’re supposed to support paying $1,410 PER TREE to put more trees on Mass Ave?

    Are they off their rockers?
  • Willie Boag
    commented 2017-11-27 18:29:34 -0500
    As someone who doesn’t know much about planting trees, do we also need to worry about maintaining the trees once they’ve been planted? And if so, is that also included in the scope of this budget/project?
  • Gabriela Romanow
    commented 2017-11-23 22:41:40 -0500
    I’d love to see more flowering trees in Cambridge
  • Edward Woll
    commented 2017-11-21 16:20:42 -0500
    Planting trees is an excellent idea and more trees are needed, but only if the area is clear of natural gas, i.e., methane, leaks. Methane suffocates trees, i.e., kills them. Many Cambridge gas leaks have been mapped by HEET, of Cambridge, MA. And the Gas Leaks Allies and others are trying to close them state wide.
  • Denise Jillson
    commented 2017-11-21 15:44:52 -0500
    more trees please!