SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Bryan Peterson called it one of the city’s most heavily-underutilized programs. 

Last year, the city helped more than 300 homeowners plant “street trees.” Those are trees planted in the space between the curb of the street and sidewalk. For each street tree planted, the city pays a $50 voucher after regulations are met, a city-approved permit is issued and a proper tree is purchased by a participating nursery. 

“Sioux Falls is expanding at a rapid rate and there are a lot of new developments that are completely vacant of trees,” Peterson, the city’s urban forestry specialist, told KELOLAND News. “Applying for street tree planting permit is to your benefit and it benefits the entire community that you live in.” 

There’s more than 20 different kinds of trees homeowners can get a $50 voucher for planting. You can view the full list in the brochure below. 

After picking the kind of tree you want, the next step is to fill out an application online, in-person (Parks & Recreation building on Dakota Ave.) or by mail. 

“As soon as you apply for a planting permit, we will inspect the boulevard area,” Peterson said. “If you have any questions on diversity as far as what trees to plant in your area, we work with you one-on-one through that process. That way we get the right tree in the right place.” 

The street tree program started in 2018 after the Emerald Ash Borer was confirmed in Sioux Falls. Like Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s, tree diseases cause widespread damage when there’s not enough tree diversity in an urban forest. 

Peterson said too often people want trees that don’t make a mess, grow fast and have good colors in the fall. 

“All trees make a mess. All trees have fall color, because even brown is a color,” Peterson said. “If everybody planted a tree with a yellow fall color, our community would look like something out of a Dr. Suess book. It’s that variety that really adds beauty.” 

The Sioux Falls area nurseries participating in the street tree program are

  • Weller Brothers
  • Oak Ridge Nursery & Landscaping Inc.
  • Nursery Wholesalers, Inc. of SD
  • Country Acres Tree Farm
  • Landscape Garden Centers

Street trees can lower heating costs 

Besides aesthetic value, Peterson highlighted how trees can help homes with heating and cooling costs, reducing pollution and buffering sound. 

“If you have a shade tree in your boulevard for example, that tree may shade your entire house,” Peterson said. “When the sun is setting in the west and your house is shaded by that tree, the cooling cost is going to be drastically lower than if you would not have a tree in that space.”

In colder months, Peterson said trees lose leaves and allow more sunlight to hit homes to help with heating costs.