Adopt-a-Tree Program

There are nearly 24,000 publicly owned trees in our community with many more along the river valley and in environmental reserves.

Approximately 10% of these trees are along our roadways, on boulevards and medians. 

Our trees endure road salts, compaction and can be impacted by area construction. They may have limited soil to grow in and do so with minimal water throughout our hot and dry summer months. With effective watering, we can ensure our urban forest has the resiliency to thrive and defends itself from pests. 

It’s easy to take our trees for granted, but it’s important to remember that trees provide oxygen, moderate air temperature, provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife, and offer immeasurable beauty to our city.

Sign up to adopt a tree

Sign up today

The adopt-a-tree project asks participants to take an active approach in watering their boulevard trees from now to September. 

Adopt a tree 

The project is open to 200 residents. Residents who sign up for the program will be asked to provide their trees with an amount of water appropriate to the age and size of the tree.

Effective watering guide
Tree age & trunk diameter*Suggested amount of water
A young tree, four (4) to six (6) inches or 15 centimeters

Between 11 and 19 litres or three (3) to five (5) gallons

A mature tree, six (6) to 12 inches or 30 centimeters Approximately 38 litres, or 10 gallons, per inch of diameter

*Trunk diameter are measures at chest height.

Soil moisture can be probed with a screwdriver into the top three inches of soil, or by using a moisture monitor. If the soil is dry at that depth, it is likely time to water.

Get involved

For signing up, households will qualify for specific watering apparatus based on the size of tree and yard landscape type. This may include a free water bag, discounted soaker hose, discounted rain barrel or a combo of both a soaker hose and rain barrel.

Qualifying participants may pick up and/or purchase their items from the Parks & Recreation Office located at 88 Kipling Street SE. 

We encourage everyone to take part in the adopt-a-tree program, allowing everyone to enjoy the benefits our tree canopy brings for generations to come.

Frequently asked questions

Why should I water the boulevard trees?

A boulevard is a challenging environment for a tree to grow in.

It may not seem obvious, but these trees face several obstacles in their life. Hardscaping (asphalt, concrete, bricks) limit water penetration to a tree’s root system, and a general lack of soil volume means that street trees cannot ‘bank’ as much soil moisture between rainfalls.

Tree roots near sidewalks and roadways are surrounded by heavily compacted soils, making it difficult for them to absorb oxygen and nutrients. 

An adequate water supply is critical to a tree’s health, and successive years of drought can make a mature, majestic tree vulnerable to pests and diseases. 

What are the benefits of keeping trees healthy?

Although trees require significant resources to maintain and keep healthy in their early years, trees provide measurable dividends in return.

Examples of this include storm water retention, carbon sequestration and oxygen production, erosion control, temperature moderation, habitat to wildlife, increased property values and overall beautification of parks and neighborhoods for recreation and cultural activities.

How can I help?

We are looking for your help in watering our community street trees by adopting a tree near your home. 

Trees become vulnerable to pests and diseases if their basic watering needs are not met. Insects and disease pathogens are adapted to exploit stressed trees, as they offer the path of least resistance.

By adopting a tree and watering it throughout our summer months, you are preventing pests which affect us all, either through the loss of the ecosystem services the trees provide a neighborhood, or through public taxes used to combat these pests.

How much water do boulevard trees need?

Young trees have less root mass to absorb water, but also less root spread for accessing moisture in the soil.

It is imperative these trees receive enough water to establish themselves and drive their roots deep into the soil in order to reach soils which are less subject to evaporation.

Generally, trees with a trunk diameter of four (4) to six (6) inches are considered to be young. In most cases these trees are less than 20 to 25 years old. A weekly watering of three (3) to five (5) gallons will help young trees establish.

Mature trees (between 30 centimeters or 12 inches in diameter) are usually over 25 years old. These trees require approximately 10 gallons of water for each inch of trunk diameter once per week during the heat of the summer (July and August). They also require this amount a few times per month in the spring and fall.

What is the best way to water a tree?

Effective watering reduces loss of water through evaporation and run off, and in many cases allows the tree to store water in the soil around its roots.

Effective watering means water is pushed deeper into the soil profile, and used more effectively because it is available for a longer period for the tree to absorb as it needs to.

For young trees, water bags and/or soaker hoses are excellent tools for effective watering. Water bags are installed around the trees’ trunk and then filled with water. These bags mimic a drip irrigation system, slowly delivering water directly to the soil above the tree root. This water is not subject to wind evaporation or runoff because of this controlled delivery method.

A soaker hose achieves the same result, over a shorter period of time but requires the homeowner to turn on the water, where as a water bag can be monitored every few days and topped up when needed.

Medium sized (between six (6) and 12 inches in diameter) and mature trees are best watered with soaker hoses placed near the tree’s drip line, which is the area beneath the outer extent of the tree’s branches. It may not be possible to achieve this in some cases, and so for each site the aim is to get as near the drip line as possible. Water will slowly percolate into that top 20 cm of soil and moisturize the soil layer for the tree’s use.

What information will I receive about my tree once I'm in the program?

By registering with the program, you will have the option to receive a photo of the public tree you are adopting along with the tree's species identification and a general condition rating of the tree's health based on a visual assessment of its live crown.
Can I purchase a water bag, soaker hose or rain barrel for the privately owned trees on my property?
No, the City has purchased this equipment specifically for homeowners and residents involved in the adopt-a-tree program.  You may, however, purchase these items from many of our local stores and apply the same principles of the program.

I am a resident but don't have a public tree in my yard. Why don't I qualify for a soaker hose or rain barrel?

The City has purchased this equipment specifically for homeowners and residents involved in the adopt-a-tree program.  You may, however, purchase these items from many of our local stores and utilize them for supplemental watering for turf and gardens.
Tree Preservation Bylaw
Tree Preservation Bylaw

In November of 2014, the City of Medicine Hat enacted a bylaw to protect public trees and help prevent the spread of tree-related diseases such as Dutch Elm Disease.

Tree Preservation Bylaw

Disease Prevention
Disease Prevention

In eastern Canada, and in the midwestern U.S., thousands of trees have been removed as a result of Dutch Elm Disease (DED) and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) which have destroyed urban forest populations. Here in Medicine Hat, we proactively monitor for these pests by treating our elm trees for European Elm Scale, another pest which can make elm trees vulnerable to DED.

In 2020, we began an elm scale injection program which will continue in 2022.

Watch how it's done

woman standing on sidewalk in front of house

Adopt-a-Tree Volunteer Feature

Local resident Jenn Cederstrand takes pride in maintaining trees in front of her home on Belfast Street through the Adopt-a-Tree program.

Read story