11 July 2022
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Creating a home for nature

When Trees for Streets were in Bedford in late May, we visited the lovely Victorian terraced street in the middle of town where Heather lives.

She’d sent us this lovely photo of her newly sponsored tree a few weeks earlier, when it had been in full flower, so we were keen to meet her.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon when we visited, and some of the neighbours even popped out to talk to us as we chatted in the street. They said how impressed they were with the new tree outside Heather’s home, and it was clear that it had got a lot of attention.

One of Heather’s neighbours has a well-established tree outside their house, where Goldfinches regularly visit their bird feeder. This goes to show that if you put trees and vegetation in built-up spaces, it creates new habits and attracts wildlife. Heather is also keen to attract birds to her sponsored tree, where she can watch them from her window.

The right tree for the right place

The tree that Heather sponsored to be planted was a Prunus Serrulata ‘Sunset Boulevard’– a Flowering Cherry.

This type of tree is ideal for a narrower terraced street where the pavements are close to the houses. It is a narrow, conical, medium-sized tree that doesn’t spread too wide. So it’s a perfect fit!

In Spring it rewards us with blush white flowers and in Autumn it will glow with warm seasonal colours. 

Heather was surprised just how big the tree was when it was planted. We explained that these new street trees are nursery cultivated and are usually about 7 years old when planted in the street, thus creating instant impact.

Heather told us how the tree really improves the street. Talking about her neighbourhood, she said that ‘It’s really nice here, but adding more trees make it even nicer.’

Making it easy to green your neighbourhood

Heather heard about the Bedford scheme through Facebook and an article in a local newspaper.

After many years of wanting a new tree outside her house, she was delighted that the Trees for Streets scheme made it so easy. 

She was more than happy to donate towards the cost of this new tree through our charity. This is something she’d wanted to do for some time. The act of sponsoring a tree creates a common good and if more people take it up, Heather thinks it’ll have quite an impact on the local area. 

To make this process easier, Bedford council is investing money into creating new tree pits, which means that a tree can be planted in any street where the pavements are wide enough and there aren’t any nearby obstructions. 

Trees in the street

We discussed the cooling impact that street trees have in towns and cities.

The temperature of urban streets without trees can be up to 7 degrees higher than tree-lined streets. In a few years, Heather’s tree will provide some lovely shade, helping keep the street cooler on really hot days.

Other benefits include:

  • Improving our health and wellbeing – both physically and mentally
  • Absorbing air pollution
  • Protecting from flooding
  • Encouraging calm and careful driving 
  • Reducing littering and fly-tipping
  • Making the neighbourhoods where we live that bit nicer

Looking after the tree

We chatted to Heather and her neighbours about watering the tree, we recommend 50 litres a week. Heather told us how she waters her tree religiously – ‘it doesn’t have any downside’.

Heather gets a helpful weekly reminder via email to help her keep on track if needed, and Bedford Borough Council usually adds watering bags to their trees, which allow water to drip into the tree gradually and stop it from drying out.

From just one seed, many trees grow

Heather has lived in Bedford for 33 years, and says her neighbours are lovely. She plans to sponsor several more trees in her street and asked us about potential new locations. We suggested a few spots where she can sponsor more trees to green up this end of her street.

Heather is actually enjoying the new tree so much that she also intends to plant a similar one in her garden and asked us for advice on how to go about it. We were happy to help, as what started with just one tree could lead to three or four.

We think this is a real success!

Join Heather 

If you’d like to help fill your street with trees like Heather has, simply use our online sponsorship request app, which lets you pick a location on our interactive map.