Building healthy, resilient communities one tree at a time

Funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star Program, the Mystic River Watershed Association in partnership with the City of Somerville will plant 100 trees over the next year. Toward reaching this goal, 10 serviceberry and maple trees were planted by 16 volunteers on November 4th.

“Before this planting event there were only 12 city-owned trees on Bailey Road. This half-day planting event resulted in almost doubling the number of trees on this road – an especially important accomplishment since the road is adjacent to I-93,” said Vanessa Boukili, Ph.D., Arborist for City of Somerville and partner in this project. “The event was a complete success, and I am grateful to the Mystic River Watershed Association and the volunteers for all their hard work!”

The program is focused on planting trees using the “bare-root” technique. This technique, which is gaining popularity in urban forestry, allow the trees to get off to a more vigorous start compared to ball-and-bur-lapped trees. It also allows volunteers to plant trees easily, without machinery. Bare-root trees typically surpass the size of larger containerized trees in only a few years—which is exciting news for our neighbors who will benefit from these larger, healthier trees.

Boukili will continue to lead the tree selection and site selection. To do this she is applying GIS and other analytical tools to identify sites that promise the best results in energy reduction, stormwater benefit, habitat improvement and other measures. We are excited to share these results as we move forward on this project—calculating the benefit of each of these trees.

 With 90% of the project still to go, we need your help!  You can participate in upcoming planting events or even “adopt” a tree or two to water in their early life cycle. If you would like to help please email Andy Hrycyna, Watershed Scientist at Mystic River Watershed Association and the project lead, at

“In a highly urbanized city like Somerville, which has 77% impervious surface, trees are sorely needed,” said Hrycyna. “We are excited to be working with such great volunteers and partners to start planting these trees that will benefit the natural environment and the people of Somerville.”