New Mexico trees. Photo: Garreth Paul / unsplash

Tree New Mexico has 30 years of urban tree planting experience. Their informative website covers the planting and care of trees using easy-to-follow instructional videos. There are also videos on pruning trees and staking them.

The organization also offers a course on urban forestry called Tree Stewards. This 16-week course begins annually in August and covers topics such as tree anatomy, planting, pruning, and watering. The course is free, but you have to apply by May. After finishing the course, participants are encouraged to teach in the community and make themselves available for consultations. Soon there will be up to 75 trained stewards in Bernalillo County, and courses are now available in Cruces and elsewhere in the state.

Another Tree New Mexico program is NeighborWoods. Eighty-five percent of trees in Albuquerque are on private property, so this program focuses on planting trees on private property, with the owner of the property agreeing to care for the tree(s). With the help of volunteers, 100 two- to three-and-a-half-inch caliper trees are planted at a time in a neighborhood. The next week, the participating families are eligible for a gift tree, which has more diverse choices available than the street trees. This program is a collaboration with city councilors who provide funding. Tree NM has on its website a schedule of upcoming tree plantings in September, October, and November.

Dakota Tree Project began in Albuquerque in 2020 as a memorial to Dakota Powell and his desire to serve his local community. In partnership with the City of Albuquerque, the project has evolved into three programs: MemorialWoods for serene settings to remember loved ones; CommunityWoods planting in low income / high heat neighborhoods; and CommercialWoods on commercial properties targeted for improvement. These woods have a varying designs and do not have a set number of trees that are planted at any one spot. Ongoing maintenance is by agreement with city departments for larger plantings and by sponsoring organizations for smaller plantings.

The average cost of a tree is $250.00 and up, so these local not-for-profits rely on donations from citizens and contracts from the city and other sources in order to do their work…and volunteers to do the planting. When planted and cared for properly, these trees have an 85% three-year survival rate, which is considered a successful replanting of our tree canopy.