Turning a House into a Home with Trees!

Meet Paul Zhang, a Markham resident and Urban Forest Champion! Nine years ago, Paul and his family moved to a new development. Their new house and the life they built were great! But, one thing was missing: backyard trees.


From beauty and privacy to increased property value and decreased energy consumption, planting backyard trees provide innumerable benefits for both the homeowner and the larger community. That’s why we consider every Backyard Tree Planting Program participant an Urban Forest Champion! Recently, I had the chance to connect with Paul on his love for the urban forest and his decision to plant native and this is what he had to say:


How did you first become interested in the urban forest? 
We moved to Markham about 15 years ago. Our old house was surrounded by trees, which made us pretty happy as we enjoyed the nature and privacy trees provided. We moved to our current house nine years ago, but since the residency was relatively new there were no trees in the backyard. Since we moved in, we were busy with new jobs and raising our children, so we didn’t get a chance to think about planting trees until a couple of years ago. We started thinking about renovating our backyard to make it comfortable to enjoy during the summer time. Then planting trees became the first priority.


How did you find out about LEAF and how have you been involved?
We started considering what trees to plant to grow fast and better survive in the harsh winter, but found it was so difficult to decide since we lacked knowledge of trees. Last year, we saw an article online introducing the LEAF program in the Markham area, so we decided to have professionals help us decide what trees to plant and where to plant. Before the professional came on site, we investigated all the trees and shrubs the LEAF program offered and the size of each tree. Brenna came on site. She was very professional, and helped us check the soil in our backyard which was clay, and provided suggestions for which trees/shrubs we could plant. We finally decided to plant one hackberry, one Freeman maple, and a grey dogwood shrub.


Please share an interesting story or memorable moment from your experience with the urban forest?
The trees and shrub are like our children, which we care for so much. If we had any concerns regarding the growth of the trees, we would contact Brenna and always got a very quick response. We always sit in the kitchen or in our family room to watch the trees, and imagine the trees growing up and giving us privacy, beauty, and shade after eight to 10 years, and all the relaxation we’ll have in our backyard after retirement.


What does the urban forest mean to you and what message would you like to share with others to encourage them to become involved?
We believe the LEAF program is great. It provided us with professional guidance to choose the proper trees, and provided us with help on our planting care questions.

Interested in adding native trees to your property? By participating in the LEAF Backyard Tree Planting Program you receive personalized help from a certified arborist to pick the right tree for you and your property all at a subsidized rate! Visit our Homeowners page to find out more.


Daniela is the Marketing and Communications Manager at LEAF.


The Backyard Tree Planting Program is supported by the City of Toronto, the Regional Municipality of York, Durham Region, the City of Markham, the Town of Newmarket, the Town of Ajax, the City of Oshawa, the City of Pickering, the Township of Scugog, the Town of Whitby and Ontario Power Generation.