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Our Gracious Shade Trees

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It may be foggy and gray outside, but it won’t be long before the canopy of trees in Stockton begins to burst forth in vibrant spring green. And during those sweltering August afternoons, those same trees will lower the air temperature beneath them nearly 20 degrees. Our trees make our community healthier and more inviting and create a peaceful, serene environment, elevating moods and improving the ecosystem at the same time.

In 2002, Sunset magazine named Stockton the Best Tree City in the West. Budget woes took a toll on our urban forest, but in 2018 the San Joaquin County Urban Tree Canopy Revival Project planted over 1,200 new trees in Stockton’s disadvantaged communities. And we can each play a vital role in ensuring that the future of our city will be lush and green. Plant a tree!

Neighborhoods with gracious shade trees lining the streets create healthier, safer and more connected communities. They provide homes for wildlife and herald the changing seasons with vibrant color. Trees benefit people by removing carbon from the atmosphere and giving off oxygen. In addition, a healthy, mature tree can increase your property value on average 7 percent. Imagine investing about $150 today to plant a good-sized tree. Ten years down the road that initial investment will have grown to nearly $25,000 in added value to your home. It is a gift you can give yourselves, your neighborhood and your city.

It is important to choose the right tree and the right placement in your yard. A shade tree can reduce your cooling costs in the hot summer months, and when the leaves are gone in winter, sunlight can reach your roof and warm your home naturally. Choose a variety with roots that will not interfere with foundations and sidewalks. Consider surrounding structures and utility lines overhead. You can consult the Master Tree list for the city of Stockton to choose a suitable species. In addition, the University of California Master Gardener website has lots of useful information and a hotline to answer tree-related questions.

I love to walk around various parts of Stockton admiring the canopy of trees in every season. I feel small beneath the massive heritage Oaks in Parkwoods and Oak Park. I marvel at the deep red foliage of the Chinese pistachio trees on the UOP campus and the way the crape myrtle trees put forth their brightest magenta blooms just when the summer heat peaks. The delicate blossoms of the Bradford pear and flowering cherry dance in the spring breeze and the blaze of brilliant yellow on my neighbor’s ginkgo each fall makes me pause in admiration.

As the poet Joyce Kilmer wrote, “I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.”

Trees make wonderful gifts to honor the birth of a new baby, an anniversary, a retirement or countless other occasions. They are the promise of the future and will be enjoyed for decades to come.


Laurie Eager is the author and illustrator of In Papa’s Garden. A seeker of beauty every day, she works part time as an interior designer, loves adventure travel, all things French and dark chocolate. She lives in Stockton with her husband, Steve, and can be found most mornings enjoying a cup of coffee and the first rays of sunshine in their abundant vegetable garden.