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Green Homes

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Free Yard Trees from TreePhilly

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Did you know that planting trees is one of the easiest, most effective ways to manage stormwater? Even better - you can do it for free! 

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PP&R) is making it easy for you to green your neighborhood. Through the TreePhilly campaign, sponsored by Wells Fargo, PP&R is offering Philadelphia property owners a free yard tree. These yard trees help clean the air, lower energy costs, manage stormwater and beautify neighborhoods.  TreePhilly supports Philadelphia’s goals to increase trees in the city and Plant One Million, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s campaign to plant one million trees in 13 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

If you have open land and would like a free tree, file a request online by March 31st. PP&R will hold nine pick-up events at different locations throughout the city between April 6th and 20th. Tree species included in the spring giveaway are: Sweetbay Magnolia, Serviceberry, Pawpaw, American Plum, American Hornbeam, Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, Boxelder, Black Gum, and Tulip Tree.

Visit to sign up for your free yard tree, and to learn more about the benefits of trees and how to get your entire neighborhood involved. You can also register here.

Rain Barrel Art Contest: Vote for your favorite design!


The Philadelphia Water Department is dressing up our big blue rain barrels! Visit the voting page before February 13th to pick your favorite design.
Students between the ages of 11 and 21 from Laura W. Waring School and YESPHilly participated in a design workshop with artists from the Mural Arts Program and educators from Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center and the Philadelphia Water Department to create exciting original artwork that we hope to eventually wrap around the rain barrels distributed by PWD.Using the same technology you might have seen on colorful trash cans or painted garbage trucks, these designs will be shrink-wrapped around the barrels, completely covering them - as if they were painted.

We've picked our favorite eight illustrations and now we look to you - our partners and the citizens of Philadelphia - to vote for your favorite design. The final three designs will brighten select neighborhood corners, stoops and other community landscapes in Philadelphia. Rain barrels collect rainwater from our properties' downspouts and hold it until we use it (i.e., for watering lawns or window boxes).

The on-line poll is open now through February 13. Cast your vote for your favorite design and then look at PWD's rain barrel program to learn more about how you can help manage stormwater! 

Giving Thanks


In the spirit of the season, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) would like to extend its warmest thanks to its staff and multitude of partners that have officially launched Green City, Clean Waters this past year.  It has been a year full of excitement and major successes for the City of Philadelphia.  To commemorate our achievements, PWD is proud to share with you the2012 Green City, Clean Waters Year in Review .  We hope you enjoy the photojournalistic glimpse into the highlights of the past year, which have only been realized as a result of the countless hours of hard work and dedication of staff and our wonderful partners! We are grateful and thankful to you! Happy Turkey Day

This Saturday: Green Roofs 101

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Want to know the basics behind green roofs? Join master gardener Stephanie Alarcon on Saturday, January 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Horticultural Center in Fairmount Park for a discussion on the fundamental issues in green roof planning. Topics include structural requirements, examples of pre-fab systems, plant choices and local green roof experts to contact. Registration ($10) and refreshments begin at 9:00 a.m., and the workshop commences at 9:30.

Click here for more info.

Watch Now: Rowhome-Sized Stormwater Solutions in West Philly

Last year, PWD and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia joined volunteers and neighbors to install rain barrels, rain gardens and downspout planters in Cobbs Creek-area rowhomes. The short film below by GreenTreks tells the story: We can manage stormwater and prevent sewer overflows with rowhome-sized tools and community involvement.

You're Invited: Green Homes Movie Premiere

On a cold Saturday last November, more than 100 volunteers joined PWD and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of Philadelphia to install rain barrels, rain gardens and downspout planters (such as the one pictured above) in residential homes. These green tools not only prevent stormwater pollution from running into the rivers and streams that supply our drinking water, they also beautify the neighborhood.

Now, a year later, participants and neighbors will get together for a status update on how their green projects are performing, and GreenTreks will premiere Green Homes videos featuring Cobbs Creek residents and their projects. Join us Wednesday, November 16 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center for this free event. Refreshments will be served! RSVP to

Sixty Square Feet of Inspiration

Photo: Randall Robinson

It's been almost a month since we last mentioned PWD's green roof bus shelter at 15th and Market, and now that the novelty has died down, you might be wondering what all the fuss was about. After all, it's only 60 square feet of green roof—how much of a difference can it really make? The bus shelter was meant to demonstrate that it's possible to green even small spaces, and to inspire Philadelphia residents to undertake their own green projects at home.

PWD recently received the photo above from a West Philly homeowner. Her downspout planter not only helps keep our streams and rivers clean by capturing stormwater runoff from her roof, it's also a beautiful addition to her home, planted with daylilies, iris, oat grass, red flame grass and perennial pea.

Visit our Residents page for green project ideas for your home, including how-tos and helpful guides.

Reminder: Schuylkill Soundings Presents Green City, Clean Waters—Tonight!

Don't miss tonight's Schuylkill Soundings event at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The 30-miniute Green City, Clean Waters video will be screened, followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the Philadelphia Water Department and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Learn how to green your home and neighborhood and give us your project ideas!

See earlier post for more information.

You're Invited: Green Home, Clean Waters

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PWD's Green City, Clean Waters plan isn't just about the city installing porous paving and constructing stormwater tree trenches—you can get involved with the effort by undertaking projects on your own property. Join us at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center on Wednesday, July 20 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for a screening of the 30-minute Green City, Clean Waters video and a panel discussion on how you can green your home. Representatives from PWD and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will be on hand to discuss stormwater management tools for residents and hear your ideas for projects you'd like to see in your community. There will be cocktails, the opportunity to post ideas on a graffiti wall, and an artist station where an artist will materialize your ideas through sketches.

The event is free to attend but please RSVP to or 215-685-0723

Can't make the event? Be sure to check out our Residents page for green home project ideas, tips and how-tos.

Green Roof For Queen Bees

Photo: Sharron Cohen

This Saturday, July 16, some Queen Village bees are getting their own green roof. Join the gardeners and neighbors of the Southwark Queen Village Community Garden from 10 a.m. to noon as they construct a green roof on the Honey House, the small building where the community garden stores beekeeping supplies for three honey-producing hives. The workshop-style event allows participants to help construct the green roof and should serve as a great introduction on how even small structures can accommodate living roofs that absorb water and benefit the environment.

The Southwark Queen Village Community Garden is located at 311 Christian St. A $20 fee for participants goes toward funding for beekeeping supplies. Call 215-320-2980 to reserve a spot—space is limited. Check out the bee blog for info on native bees and view more of Sharron Cohen's Queen Village bee photos. GreenTreks will also be filming the workshop and has some additional information.

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