Transforming NeighborWoods

Why NeighborWoods and Tree Equity?

Trees should not be an either-or option. When any neighborhood gets more trees we all win. 

Cities that have a robust, ‘equitable-distributed network of trees’ are equipped with valuable assets that make all of our communities cooler, more liveable, and economically resilient. 

Trees increase the quality of living for communities. This builds pride and ownership which leads to residents taking more interest in their neighborhood and homes. Surrounding communities also begin to take notice, building mutual respect and caring for one another. 

That’s why in 2008 we launched our very first tree planting program called NeighborWoods with the goal of tree equity. Over the next two years TreesUpstate, known as TreesGreenville until 2019, was part of the revitalization of several urban neighborhoods that had been harmed by drugs, crime, and significantly lower rates of home ownership. Together with the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority we planted beautiful new trees in front yards, new single-family houses, and a tree-shaded park and playground where children and families could gather.

Starting in 2022 we increased our tree equity efforts with the hire of our first Community Outreach and Engagement Manager Evangeline Costa. Evangeline works with neighborhoods and residents to create smooth and seamless tree plantings in areas that need them most.

NeighborWoods Program Goals:

  1. Build trust with community partners and developers to educate on the benefits of trees, collaborate to make trees a part of the solution, and empower community members to become tree advocates.
  2. Implement customized urban forestry strategies for communities and neighborhood associations to beautify their neighborhoods, experience the many benefits of trees, and increase their overall canopy.
  3. Develop an optimal staffing structure that offers workforce development, a job stream, and financially valuable landscape certification for 18 to 24 year-olds who live in special interest areas.
  4. Offset the burden of expensive tree removals and tree care which can contribute to poverty, housing damage, and blighted properties.
  5. Provide ongoing tree care so that homeowners can maintain ownership value and are more likely to not sell or foreclose on their house.

Planting in Creekside

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I plant a tree in my front yard or backyard?

Yes! While our goal is to plant front yard trees, we will plant a tree anywhere on your property. However, in our Volunteers Plant It! program, free trees must be planted in front yards.

I am looking for resources to reforest my land. Can TreesUpstate help with this?

Unfortunately, TreesUpstate does not assist homeowners with reforestation projects on private property at this time. For bare root seedling purchases, we recommend ArborGen.

How big is a neighborhood?

We work with a neighborhood champion to set a neighborhood boundary for our projects. The total area should be in the range of 5 to 15 blocks or .5 to 2 square miles. For the Volunteers Plant It! program, the neighborhood must be walkable from end to end in 15-20 minutes.

Do you have resources for me to send to my neighbors to tell them about the project?

Yes! Contact us to see if you qualify for one of the above planting options. If you qualify, we’ll work with you to develop digital and/or printed resources for your neighborhood.

What is a tree diaper?

A tree diaper is a watering mat that lays around the trunk of the tree under the mulch. The tree diaper can absorb rainwater and can retain water for up to one month, slowly dripping it into the root zone of the tree. It lasts for 5 years.

What kind of trees are available?

We plant over 50 different species and cultivars annually, but availability is determined by our partner nurseries. Our focus is on planting large native canopy trees. We work with the neighborhood champion to build a species list for each neighborhood. Examples of species we plant include: oak species, tulip poplar, black tupelo, american hornbeam, eastern red cedar, magnolia, & baldcypress.

How many trees does one household qualify for?

One household can plant up to 2 trees through the Volunteers Plant It! program. With We Plant It! and You Plant It!, there is no limit to trees per household, but our goal is to focus efforts on a neighborhood-wide campaign rather than a single residence.

Can I request a specific species not on your list?

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate specific requests not on your neighborhood availability list.

TreesUpstate - Evangeline Costa - Staff
Please contact Evangeline Costa at to learn if you are eligible or discuss a community-wide tree planting in your neighborhood.