Minneapolis residents who want to "spruce" up their yards with a cut-price tree will have their chance later this month.
The city is launching its annual $25 tree program that due to its overwhelming popularity will now be carried out by a lottery, rather than through preorders and lot sales as seen in previous years.
Around 1,000 homeowners will be selected through the lottery, giving them a chance to order a 5-8 foot tree that at just $25 is about $100 cheaper than you'd find in nurseries.
There will be some 15 varieties available as well, including large species, flowering trees and several kinds of fruit trees.
There is a limit of one tree per property owner – with residents, businesses and nonprofits all allowed to enter. You can register for the lottery online here between March 13-30.
There is a separate sale in St. Louis Park that went live on Wednesday and is not being conducted via lottery. Residents are able to order up to three trees each costing $35 right here.
The benefits of urban trees
Minneapolis has funded the program in coordination with the Tree Trust for the past 11 years, providing more than 12,000 trees for planting on private property to benefit both human and animal health and the environment.
"Healthy trees look beautiful in our neighborhoods, increase property values, help clean the air we breathe, save on our energy bills with strategic planting, keep the city cooler in the summer, provide homes for wildlife and help manage stormwater," the city says. "Larger trees offer all these benefits on a larger scale."
The Tree Trust was created in 1976 with the aim of helping urban neighborhoods recover from the devastating loss of tree canopies, partly because of the spread of Dutch Elm Disease. It also helps reduce poverty by providing work to the unemployed.
According to the United Nations, urban trees have a wide array of benefits. They filter urban pollutants and fine particles, provide food for wildlife, and can reduce energy use by providing shade, decreasing the need to use air conditioning.
Studies have also found that spending time near trees improve people's physical and mental health, while decreasing blood pressure and stress.
In November, a report by the Nature Conservancy found the Twin Cities is among the world's metro areas that can benefit the most from increasing its number of urban trees.