Residents in a new southside community are being rewarded for planting trees. The innovative VIDA San Antonio Treebate program rewards residents for adding trees to their yards. The southside planned community created the VIDA Treebate program to provide even more shade canopy to the area.
VIDA’s developer Southstar Communities has been working with the City of San Antonio to establish a tree protection and planting program to replace lesser quality trees with larger shade-providing trees across the 600-acre community.
“We have established a great plan with the City to add native, hearty trees to the community that will improve the shade canopy in the area,” said Gretchen Howell, Southstar’s senior vice president overseeing the VIDA development. “But we knew we wanted to go further. Having quality, stable tree canopy changes the quality of life for so many, and creates an inviting place where people can enjoy being outside more.”
The City’s Tree Preservation Plan guides developers to protect trees that provide shade and long-term value, and to add a diverse array of trees to provide a stable canopy. The City of San Antonio was recognized as a “Tree City USA” in 1997, highlighting the importance of trees to reduce energy costs and consumption, while encouraging walking/biking and elevating property values.
The VIDA San Antonio Treebate program will provide homeowners with a $100 per tree HOA credit for additional approved trees added to residential yards.
To qualify for VIDAs Treebate, trees must be planted within the first year of homeownership, be in excess of 3” in diameter, and be on the City of San Antonio’s approved canopy tree list, which also includes planting and maintenance guidelines.
Survey Finds Tree Treasures
Before development began at VIDA San Antonio, developers engaged professional arborists to survey the property for trees. While most trees identified on the former ranchland were considered ‘understory’ trees (providing ground cover but not optimal for shade), a few “specimen trees” (valuable to the ecosystem and offer canopy shade) were also found. Among the specimen trees located at VIDA were Heritage Oaks dated more than 300 years old, located along the Madla Greenway that runs through the community.
The trees being planted at VIDA San Antonio are selected to provide optimal shade, create a diverse landscape, and mitigate risk of mass loss caused by any single insect or illness. All are native and can tolerate San Antonio’s soil and climate conditions. Recognizing that trees take time to grow, both fast- and slow-growth varieties are included in the community plantings to ensure a stable tree canopy and provide long term value.
According to the US EPA, trees can lower surface and air temperatures by more than 20 degrees, creating greater comfort outdoors and lower need for air conditioning indoors. VIDA’s tree canopy efforts are part of the community’s design for a more sustainable community that embraces nature and nurtures wellness with outdoor spaces for residents to explore, exercise, and play. Imagine how much more enjoyable that will be, especially during the hot summer months, under a canopy of shade.
San Antonio’s Tree Canopy Goals
Trees provide many benefits:
- improving water quality
- reducing stormwater runoff
- lowering summer temperatures
- reducing energy use in homes and buildings
- improving air quality
- enhancing property values
- improving human health
- providing wildlife habitat
The City of San Antonio has a goal to increase the number of healthy trees (in addition to parks) and to have 40% of the city under tree canopy by 2040. The City is on track to meet these goals, and programs like VIDA’s Treebate are an important step to ensuring its success.