Western Redbud: “A tree with year-round interest!”

Photos: Bob Sussman (left), Stan Shebs (right)

Why is the Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) the best tree ever? Maybe it’s because at this time of year, redbuds are the focal point of any garden lucky enough to have them. This native Californian is a small tree (15–20’ x 15–20’) and does well in most any kind of soil, as long as it is well-drained.

In the late winter and early spring, when most everything else is still dormant and waiting to bud, the red bud has spectacular magenta flowers that are delicate and yet very resilient to cold, wet days.… Read more >>

Not your typical field trip: 500 students win a chance to replant the Angeles National Forest

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Students from 10 Los Angeles area middle and high schools learned this week that they were winners of sponsored field trips to the Angeles National Forest to help restore fire-damaged areas of one of Los Angeles County’s largest preserved open space.

The Facebook-based contest TreeByTree was a collaboration between TreePeople and Edison International. On a weekly basis, students from 17 schools posted photos of sustainability-minded projects they spearheaded, from recycling programs to tree plantings to converting a vintage VW Bug to electric.… Read more >>

When Trees Thrive, People Thrive

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We at TreePeople certainly believe that what we are doing is a matter of life and death. But sometimes we’re confronted with more sobering proof than we expected. That’s what happened when I read this article by Lindsay Abrams that recently appeared in The Atlantic, “When Trees Die, People Die.” 

I expected that this article would be just another “trees-make-us-feel-better” story. “Aren’t they pretty? Let’s go plant some.” I wasn’t prepared for this (italics mine):

When the U.S. Forest Service looked at mortality rates in counties affected by the emerald ash borer, they found increased mortality rates.… Read more >>

Learn How to Get Your Landscape Really Green

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You may have noticed that some years in Los Angeles County are wetter—or drier—than others. And in wet years you may also have noticed a lot of unfiltered water rushing off paved surfaces, into storm drains, and out to sea carrying whatever pollutants it washes over. So, not only are we losing water that could be captured for local use or returned to the ground for irrigation, we’re failing to clean it up before it enters our waterways.

But did you know that even in times of drought, what little moisture falls from the sky can be harvested and put to use?… Read more >>

Like it or not, you DO make a difference

“You are never in neutral,” TreePeople founder Andy Lipkis tells environmental leader Huey Johnson, in an interview about how we all affect the environment. “People say [to me], ‘I love what you do because you show that people can make a difference.’” The truth is, people do make a difference, Andy says. And it comes in the form of every step we take, every penny we spend, in all the ways we move through the world.

Growing up in the 1960s in a severely polluted Los Angeles, Andy realized that we have to embrace the notion that even the smallest contribution—whether planting a single tree or shutting off the tap when you brush your teeth—does make a positive difference.… Read more >>

Sheet Mulching 101 (part 1 of 2)

Valerie Fontaine, Dec 14, 2012

What is sheet mulching? Just the quickest, easiest way to go from a thirsty, outdated green shag carpet of a landscape to a sustainable garden in about the time it takes to mow the lawn.

Follow these easy steps and you can do what fabulous TreePeople member and volunteer Valerie Fontaine recently did at her house. Once you go green, you’ll never go back.

  • Cover the lawn with 1 layer of cardboard or 6 layers of newspaper. Be sure to overlap by at least 6 inches to prevent the grass from growing through.
Read more >>

A Living Memorial and a Model for Community Engagement

MLK Blvd. in South L.A., 1990 and 2008

On January 15, 1990, three thousand people came out to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by planting 400 trees along the entire length of MLK Boulevard in South Los Angeles–seven miles in a single day. At this event, organized by TreePeople, each tree was named in memory of someone, and then adopted by a neighboring resident committed to its ongoing care. The result is the largest living monument to Dr. King in existence.

The idea for this monument came from a TreePeople Citizen Forester named Eudora Russell, who for years had dreamed of turning the barren stretch of King Boulevard into a fitting memorial to its namesake.… Read more >>

Two Native Plants for Your Southern California Garden

Photo courtesy of weedingwildsuburbia.com

Now is a perfect time to grow your garden green. While other parts of the world are snow-covered and frigid, Southern California’s mild, wet winters make this season ideal for planting climate-friendly natives that provide habitat for our native fauna. Here are two beautiful California evergreen shrubs to check out and add to your weekend plans.

Twin Peaks 2 Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis; native evergreen shrub; 3’ tall by 8’ wide; full sun)

This shrub makes a great undulating groundcover.… Read more >>

Building resilient communities one tree–and many neighbors–at a time

Neighbors planting trees in Rose Avenue. Photo: Juan Villegas

Want to know how to survive the next natural disaster? Think community and good neighbors, not concrete barricades and security guards, as Eric Klinenberg recently recommended. Klinenberg says in an NPR interview,  “In light of the risk we face with climate change, I sincerely hope that we invest in the social infrastructure. Because when a real disaster strikes, it’s the social stuff that might make the difference between life and death.” At TreePeople we’ve been building resilient communities one tree at a time for more than 40 years through programs designed specifically to connect people with each other through environmental stewardship.… Read more >>