Mature tree-planting incentive program makes a return in city of Sarasota

Initiative pays up to $500

The gumbo limbo is one of the species the City of Sarasota has made available for residents to plant. Photo by Yinan Chen via Wikimedia Commons

Following a successful first round, Phase II of the Mature Tree Pilot Program has been launched in the City of Sarasota, the city has announced.

“The initiative offers an incentive up to $500 to City of Sarasota homeowners who pay $100 toward the cost of purchasing and planting an approved mature tree,” a news release explains. “Trees cost less than $600,” it adds.

Each program participant will purchase and own the tree and will be required to water, prune and maintain it, the release points out. “A tree landscaper will obtain required permits, deliver, and plant the tree,” the release notes. After the planting has been verified by city staff, the city will reimburse the resident up to $500.

Approximately 75 trees will be funded in Phase II on a first-come, first-served basis, the release says. Complete program details are available in the Mature Tree Pilot Program Guidelines.

During Phase I, which was launched in November 2019, 23 mature trees were planted throughout the city, the release notes.

Homeowners can select from a dozen approved species, including gumbo limbos, silver buttonwoods and magnolias. (“Palms are not included,” the release adds.) “Approved trees and pricing are listed in the Mature Tree Pilot Program Guidelines,” the release says.

“The program focuses on planting mature canopy and understory trees with a 2-inch caliper. Planting is limited to the right of way or within 15 feet of the right of way,” the release explains.

“In addition to beautifying the community, trees provide significant benefits,” the release notes. Among those are saving energy, cleaning stormwater runoff, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cleaning the air, lowering the urban heat island effect, providing wildlife habitat, and improving overall health and well-being for people.

The Mature Tree Pilot Program is supported with $30,000 from the city’s tree replacement fund, which collects a portion of tree removal permit dollars. The money is to be used specifically for urban canopy programs, the release explains.

Detailed information about the program is available online.

Sarasota resident Lou Costa, a retired principal engineer, is volunteering his time to administer the initiative, the release adds.

Residents interested in participating in the Mature Tree Pilot Program should contact Lou Costa at