Free trees for Guttenberg residents

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A limited number of free trees are being offered to Guttenberg residents on a first-come basis thanks to a successful grant application. (Austin Greve photo)

Thanks to a grant from Black Hills Energy and partnership with Trees Forever, Guttenberg will receive $3,000 to purchase trees for local property owners to plant in right-of-ways, providing benefits such as shade cover over sidewalks, businesses and homes, absorbing and slowing stormwater, and reducing air and noise pollution. 

The Community Vitality Committee applied for the grant with permission from the city council last fall. "This project would not be possible without many partnerships across the community," says committee member Molly Moser. "With more than 60 ash trees in town irreparably damaged by the emerald ash borer, we hope the new planting will help diversify and replenish our community's trees."

Student involvement

Clayton Ridge Environmental Science students were engaged to help map potential locations for plantings and study the root systems of trees to determine which would be least disruptive to nearby sidewalks. 

The Clayton Ridge football team, led by Matt Moser, has volunteered to plant the trees for property owners. Trees are being provided at a 30% discount thanks to Highway 52 Flowers. Clayton County Conservation also helped guide tree selection and will provide education on tree care. 

Tree choices

Property owners will be allowed to choose from a list of three approved types of trees at no cost. Trees Forever, Clayton County Conservation and research by the students have helped determine the best trees for planting in our climate in a right-of-way, with deep roots to avoid disturbing sidewalks: 

•White oak: Crucial for our wildlife, white oak supports some 400 different pollinator species and the acorns are a favorite food for just about everything, including waterfowl, which is particularly prevalent with Guttenberg right along the Mississippi River. 

•Japanese Maple: A flowering, deep-rooted, shorter tree if power lines are a concern. 

•Honey locust: A native shade tree valued for its delicate, ferny appearance, broad spreading habit of growth, seedless, very tolerant of adverse growing conditions.


Trees will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and the committee will do its best to give property owners the tree of their choice. 

Eligible properties must be within city limits and the planting will need to be in the right-of-way adjacent to a public sidewalk. In order to receive a tree, the property must not already have a tree in the right of way. Renters and rental owners are encouraged to work together to sign up for and care for trees. 


To ensure longevity of the young trees, property owners who indicate they would like a tree are required to attend a tree care and maintenance workshop led by Clayton County Conservation Naturalist Kenny Slocum. The training session will last 30-minutes. Property owners will learn to care for their tree and will sign a commitment to its success and to maintaining it in accordance with city ordinances. 

The workshop will be held the first week of May with planting to follow soon after. The cost of trees will be covered, but property owners are encouraged to provide mulch around the new plantings. 

How to sign up

To sign up to participate in the program and select your preferred tree, please visit or scan the QR code. Contact Brandie Tomkins, Community Vitality Director, at 563-252-2323 with questions. 

More information

Trees will be planted in residential and business areas where buildings and property owners will experience many benefits provided by trees and shade. Right-of-way (ROW) plantings mean that trees are close enough to sidewalks, homes and businesses to provide all of the following benefits:

They absorb and slow down storm water, provide habitat, reduce air pollution, extend the life of pavement, modify the local climate, reduce noise pollution and provide aesthetic beauty. 

Energy savings benefits include: 

Trees mitigate extreme heat: Trees and vegetation lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and through evapotranspiration (the sum of all processes by which water moves from the land surface to the atmosphere via evaporation and transpiration). Shaded surfaces, for example, may be 20–45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded areas.

Trees boost energy efficiency: In the summer months, shade trees ease the burden on air conditioners. In the winter, trees act as windbreaks against the chill. Carefully positioned trees can reduce a household's energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25%. On a community-wide scale, shade trees help reduce the “heat-island” effect caused in urban centers by buildings and pavement, which absorb light energy and reflect it as heat.

Trees mitigate wind damage: Windbreaks are important additions to the landscape because they help protect homes and buildings from high winds and drifting snow, and help prevent soil erosion. While this may not be a direct energy savings, it can help property owners by lessening snow removal costs and saving dollars from properties damaged by high winds. 

"When I was growing up on North First Street, there were blocks and blocks of shade trees. It kept our walks cool and green in the summer, and created a colorful canopy over the road in the fall. That kind of neighborhood is one I want to live in and it's what I'd like to see Guttenberg return to," said Moser.

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