Calumet couple helps beautify their block with a street tree.

Air purifier. Wildlife habitat. Privacy screen. Shade. Stormwater management. Beauty. So many reasons trees improve the neighborhood and the environment — hard to believe anyone wouldn’t want one.

But according to Tree Tenders, many East Falls homeowners Just Say No when offered a free street tree for the front of their home. So we tracked down two brave neighbors who took the plunge on an Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilac last year, for the full scoop on their hassles and pitfalls.

“Ummm… none?” Ralph Spiegel told us when we asked him how much remorse he and his wife Laura Marsh have been experiencing since Tree Tenders planted their new tree in front of their Calumet Street rowhome. They’re looking forward to seeing it grow to provide lovely white petals as well as shade and privacy.

It already has made their home more festive during the holidays last year when Laura decorated it with ornaments and fiberoptic lights. “It looked really cool with the changing lights,” she said. “It added some holiday cheer to the block.”

Was there a downside? Maybe it was tough to plant the thing?

“Couldn’t have been easier,” said Ralph. “They sent out people to mark the sidewalk and cut a space in the concrete, another crew from the city dropped off the tree and mulch and the Tree Tenders were there the next day to dig the whole and brace it. All we were responsible for was watering and it’s been fairly rainy recently so no problem there.”

“The Tree Tenders even helped with the stones I brought from a quarry to edge the base of the tree,” added Laura. “They said they were glad to do it since they were already there.”

How did they choose a Japanese Ivory Silk Lilac? “Well, you can’t choose the exact tree,” added Laura, “which was my question when I first called them, but they did tell you you’d get one of a few types, which all sounded great. And we’ve been very happy with this one.”

What’s next for their newest addition? “We’re hoping for a bird’s nest there soon,” said Laura. “And I suppose it’ll need a name, maybe Lily?”

About Ralph and Laura

After living two years on Fisk, they moved around the corner to Calumet, where they now have a spacious backyard (complete with rain garden). Originally from the West Coast (California) they’ve enjoyed their new neighborhood, particularly Fiorino’s which reminds them of the cuisine of Tuscany, where they got married.

Sign Up for a Street Tree!

Can you appreciate nature? Do you have an empty space in front of your home? Congratulations, you qualify for a free street tree from Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and East Falls Tree Tenders.

Trees make a huge difference in the look and feel of a neighborhood. REGISTER NOW, it’s easy, free (though, they’d love a donation to cover their expenses) and best of all, a tree instantly adds curb appeal.

Apply for one today — and encourage your neighbors. Several trees planted on one street can transform and personalize your little piece of East Falls. Deadline for application is May 1st. Trees will be planted in November. Email Angie.sun22@gmail.com or telephone Andrea Sunderland at (215) 646-5915 for an application.

Big thanks to local Tree Tenders and homeowners for helping make East Falls even more beautiful through the seasons.