Teamwork Makes the Dream Work! Enhancing Richmond Hill’s Urban Forest with over 200 Trees and Shrubs

The first of two spring public planting events in Richmond Hill took place on Saturday, May 12, and although rain was in the forecast, Mother Nature was on our side. It ended up being a slightly overcast, mild day – perfect tree planting conditions!


The community agreed that conditions were optimal for planting – with 129 attendees, we got the trees and shrubs in the ground with ease and enjoyment. Each person who showed up to plant received specific instructions to ensure that this naturalization project will grow lush and beautiful for years to come. Amongst brief safety training and other tips and tricks, this instruction included:

  • Dig a hole as deep as the plant pot, and about twice as wide.
  • Loosen roots to help encourage outward growth.
  • Make sure the tree/shrub is straight.
  • Break up large hard chunks of soil before backfilling the hole (if the soil pores are too big, the tree will struggle to absorb water).
  • Make a mulch donut, not a volcano!













The planting site – pictured in the foreground is a young White spruce (Picea glauca) ready to grow and enhance Richmond Hill’s canopy.










Planting experts putting their mulch donut-making skills to work!



Participants were excited, engaged, and eager to learn. During planting demonstrations, LEAF staff and volunteers received thoughtful questions and comments about Richmond Hill’s urban forest, rendering it a day of action and education. Participants learned how to identify native species, why native species are important, the purpose of mulch, and so much more.

After all 206 trees and shrubs were planted and mulched, there was quite a bit of mulch leftover. But this did not go to waste! A planting event in the same zone took place last year, so this was a perfect opportunity to care for these young trees and mulch them too. Amongst other functions, mulch helps maintain soil moisture and reduce evaporation, control weeds, and it also acts as “nature’s insulating blanket” by keeping soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.








LEAF volunteer/planting leader superstar, John, teaching participants about young tree care.


After a fun morning of planting, participants had the exciting opportunity to take home their very own free shrub. They could choose from four different native species: serviceberry (Amelanchier), elderberry (Sambucus nigra), nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) or black chokeberry (Prunus virginiana). All of these produce delicious edible fruits, and are a great addition to any yard.














Happy new nannyberry owners!










A special shoutout & great big thank you to our amazing planting leader volunteers who helped to educate participants & make sure all 206 trees and shrubs were planted properly. Great job team!



Keep an eye out for future planting opportunities by signing up for our newsletter. Or, if you’re interested in becoming a planting leader, submit a volunteer application!


Natalie Secen is LEAF’s Volunteer and Stewardship Intern.


Photographs by Erica Hazlett and Isaac Lee.

These planting events are supported by Town of Richmond Hill, The Regional Municipality of York, TD Friends of the Environment Fund and the Government of Ontario.