One tree can make a difference: where will you plant yours this Earth Day?

Trees are valued for the many benefits they provide to our global landscapes. They offer us shade on hot days, provide important habitat and food for our native wildlife, combat climate change by sequestering carbon, increase property value and improve mental health – just to name a few! In honour of Earth Day, I want to share one particular benefit of our trees – their ability to decrease stormwater runoff and filter pollutants!


In urban environments, trees are especially important because they help to absorb rainwater. However, as climate change progresses and green landscapes, including trees, are replaced by man-made structures such as roads or buildings, that rainfall becomes stormwater runoff. This runoff flows over roads, parking lots and other impermeable surfaces collecting harmful pollutants such as pesticides, salts, heavy metals and bacteria which end up in our storm drains and sewers creating problems for both wildlife and humans.


Trees are able to mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff through their amazing absorption abilities. Tree canopies intercept and slow down rainfall, reducing the amount and speed of water running off on the ground. Because the rainfall is moving slower, more of it infiltrates the ground and tree roots are then able to better absorb it.  This both reduces the amount of runoff and filters out pollutants that would otherwise make their way into our water system. 


As we commemorate Earth Day this year, take action and consider planting a tree to protect and celebrate our beautiful planet!


The Town of Newmarket is partnering with LEAF, and The Regional Municipality of York to offer a rebate to Newmarket residents who plant a tree through LEAF’s Full Service or Do-It-Yourself tree planting programs! The Town will cover an additional $100 towards the purchase prices of one tree per property.  Every tree planted through LEAF’s Backyard Tree Planting Program will contribute to Newmarket’s urban forest while providing many other environmental and health benefits. This partnership has the potential to help the Newmarket community plant more trees in 2018 and divert up to 29,000 litres of water from the Town’s stormwater management system.

LEAF’s full service Backyard Tree Planting Program is available for all residents of Toronto, Oakville, Ajax and York Region (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan or Whitchurch-Stouffville). For more information visit 


Natasha Keshavjee is LEAF’s Residential Planting Programs Coordinator


The Backyard Tree Planting Program is supported by The Town of Newmarket, The Regional Municipality of York, City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro, Oakvillegreen, Town of Ajax, and Ontario Power Generation.