397 Assessment of Community Tree Planting Project Reveals Social and Psychological Benefits

in HortScience
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  • 1 Cooperative Agricultural Research Program, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN 37209

A community tree planting project was conducted on the border of an urban Nashville, Tenn., neighborhood in Autumn 1994. In Jan. 2000, a written survey was developed to assess residents' perception of this site. Responses were gathered voluntarily and anonymously following a community meeting. Photographs of the site taken before the planting and again recently were available to respondents. Descriptions of the site's appearance prior to planting (turf only) included barren, boring, and lacking character. Comments regarding the site with trees suggest that trees provide cover and shade, are aesthetically pleasing, and represent positive human involvement. The average rating of the site's appearance prior to planting was “fair,” while its recent appearance was rated “very good.” Among three tree species included in the planting, Southern magnolia was strongly preferred over Canadian (Eastern) hemlock and Eastern redbud. Respondents valued magnolia's size, unique flowers and leaves, and evergreen nature. Most respondents did not use the area for any specific purpose. Despite that fact, respondents stated that they benefitted from the soothing aesthetics of the landscaped site, and that the site added value to the neighborhood and implied the qualities of belonging and leadership. An unintended outcome of the survey was its educational aspect. Nearly two-thirds of respondents did not live in the area when this site was landscaped, and most of them were not aware that the neighborhood had conducted the project. Nearly one-half of all respondents expressed interest in additional landscaping at this site or nearby high-visibility, high-use sites.

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