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23rd Annual Dunbar/Spring Annual Rain, Tree, & Carbon Planting

January 19, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

This rain and tree planting is occurring in the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood, but the planting event is open to anyone from any neighborhood, and is a great opportunity to see how such an event, or other Neighborhood Forester endeavors, could be organized elsewhere.

Tree Planting: Saturday, January 19, 2019

Time: 8:00 am for a planting demonstration, then keep going to various parts of the neighborhood. The demonstration will show you how to plant the rain to maximize its potential, how to plant food-bearing native trees by seed and/or with nursery stock to maximize passive summer shading/cooling, and how to recycle/plant prunings and leaves as fertility-building, carbon-sequestering, pollutant-filtering, water-harvesting mulch. Check the blackboard on the porch at the meeting spot if you want to join in on the planting later in the morning—we’ll leave a note with an idea of the morning’s planting route. End time of noon is approximate.

Meeting spot: 813 N 9th Ave, Tucson AZ 85705

Come join us in planting native shade trees within water-harvesting earthworks in the public rights-of-way. The idea is to plant native food-producing, flood-controlling, wildlife-habitat-producing, beautiful, air- and water-filtering, living air conditioners. Street trees that shade up to 75% of the street’s surface can also cool summer neighborhood temperatures by up to 20ºF. This enhances the walkability and bikeability of our neighborhoods, which improves health and drops crime. When we harvest street runoff to irrigate the street trees, we also reduce water consumption as we reduce downstream flooding. Thus far this annual event has resulted in over 1,500 trees being planted in our neighborhood, and contributed to annually harvesting one million gallons of stormwater that used to go to the stormdrain—let’s keep going!

To RSVP to help plant trees at the January 19th tree planting: Send an email to brad@harvestingrainwater.com with your name, cell number, and number of people joining you.

What to bring: Work clothes, sun hat, gloves, and water as we’ll be working outdoors. A pointed shovel and/or hard rake.

For more information on tree and water-harvesting basin orders: Contact Brad Lancaster at brad@harvestingrainwater.com

Water-Harvesting-Basin-Creation Service:
This year we are working with licensed contractors (John Litzel of Little John Excavating and Jeff Rhody of Dryland Design) to:
• Dig the basin(s) [average size is 5 feet long x 5 feet wide x 1 foot deep] with a backhoe
• Remove excavated soil with backhoe and dump truck
• Deliver and hand-set local Catalina granite rock to stabilize the basin banks and planting terraces. (Those wanting to learn how to set rock and work with, and learn from, the contractor).
• Drill core holes in the street curb to direct street runoff into the street-side basin for a lifetime of free stormwater irrigation and flood control
• Handle the permitting
• You’ll also get advice/input on ideal basin placement and plant selection.

Average price (after City Rainwater Harvesting Rebate) is expected to be $400 per basin. Actual average cost is $800 per basin with curb coring, but the rebate covers half the cost up to $500.

This is an amazing deal! The average basin will capture over 2,000 gallons per year (assuming average annual rainfall of 11 inches). Trees and other plantings planted with such basins grow to be healthier and  larger, and have faster growth rates than those without such basins. And the basins bottoms and planting terrace can be seeded or planted with beautiful native understory plantings. See here for ideas of understory plantings and their ideal planting location.

This basin creation price is lower than market rates because we are able to get a bulk deal by pooling many installations and permits into one—it pays to collaborate as a community!
The basin price is more than years past because the basin is much larger capacity, excavation is done by a backhoe and operator, excavated soil is removed from site (unless homeowner wants to use it elsewhere on property), and includes rock, professional rockwork, and curb coring. This new set up with contractors should also be more sustainable than our past program, because in the past a few volunteers would have to work for an additional week to finish up what was not completed in the public planting/basin creation day.

You can see an example of Jeff’s rockwork at the two basins recently created on the south side of the Dunbar/Spring Community Garden on University Blvd between 11th Ave and Main Ave.

Native trees cost $20 each.

Expand or enhance existing water-harvesting basins
The basin creation service can also be used to enlarge or enhance existing (but perhaps undersized) basins.


Email Brad at brad@harvestingrainwater.com  or Omar at nativeroots.az@gmail.com to get on the list and get your tree-order form(s), maintenance agreements, and checklist to ensure your site will meet the requirements of this program and the city permit.

• Native Tree Order Form is needed for trees that are to be planted in public right-of-way. The prices of these trees have been reduced/subsidized thanks to Trees for Tucson and neighborhood nurseryman Sky Jacobs.
• Tree, Curb Core / Curb Cut, Water Harvesting Basin Maintenance Agreement Form must be filled out, signed, and handed in for every address ordering trees.


Requirements to get the Rain and Tree Planting help of Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Foresters program:

1. Invasive weeds must be removed from all areas you want to plant rainwater and trees BEFORE the rain and trees are planted.

2. Must have a continuous pedestrian path minimum 5-feet wide, cleared to a height of 7 feet, and having an approved path surface in the public right-of-way adjoining your property.

Approved pathway materials that maintain public access and walkability:

• Compacted native soil. Free and already on site!
• Screened organic material (woodchip) mulch no larger than 1/2-inch in particle size.
(Do not apply mulch thicker than a 1-inch depth. Thicker depths bog down small wheels of babycarriages and wheelchairs).
One local mulch supplier is Tank’s Green Stuff.
• Compacted or stabilized¼ to 3/8-inch minus decomposed granite (DG).
There are natural polymers that can be mixed in with the decomposed granite to better hold it together and stabilize it. DG is available from local landscape material suppliers. (Gary Wittwer, Landscape Architect, City of Tucson Transportation Department told me this can be installed to be American Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible
• Pavers/brick, which can be installed within the grade/slope tolerances of the ADA
• Maintained concrete sidewalks (ADA-accessible)

Non-approved, non-accepted path materials that inhibit public access and walkability:
• Loose rock or gravel
• Decomposed granite larger than 3/8-inch in particle size
• Course organic material (woodchip) mulch largerthan 1-inch in size; or organic mulch thicker than 1-inch depth.

NOTE: If you would like trees for planting on private property, visit https://tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org/trees-for-tucson/ or call (520) 791-3109. Native and fruit trees are available (ideally you set up a greywater-harvesting system for these fruit trees first, as they will require more water than native trees as well as regular watering in the hot and dry seasons). Note that the City of Tucson has a greywater-harvesting rebate covering up to half the cost of a greywater system with a rebate cap of $1,000.

Download the 2019 Dunbar/Spring Rain and Tree Planting flyer and help spread the word!

See you there!



January 19, 2019
8:00 am - 12:00 pm