How to plant a tree, get a Green Shade rebate and save money on your bill

Happy Arbor Day!

The annual tree-planting holiday will be celebrated in San Antonio this year on Sat., Nov. 8 — a great time to take advantage of CPS Energy’s Green Shade tree rebates.

Each year between October and April, CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio offer rebates of $50 for each tree planted on the west, south or east side of your home or building under the Green Shade Tree Rebates program. Participants are limited to five rebates per address.  According to CPS Energy environmental analyst Tom Brotherman, more than 7,500 rebates have been handed out since the fall of 2010.

CPS Energy tree giveaway program
CPS Energy encourages tree planting to create more shade and lower energy consumption and cost.

Why does your local public electric and gas utility underwrite the cost of planting trees?  Because trees create shade which keeps buildings cooler and helps save energy–which in turn prevents or postpones the need to build more power plants.

The program has been so successful its budget increased from $50,000 to $60,000 this year.

“That $60K for this year means the possibility of 1,200 new trees planted,” says Brotherman. “That’s 1,200 new trees that will improve air quality, provide shade, and lower summer electric bills.  Trees also increase property values and make your yard nicer–not to mention they’re fun to climb once they get big.”

All you have to do is buy a five-gallon or larger tree, save the receipt, then send in the application. The rebates apply to select native species. Need help choosing the right tree?  Check out the CPS Energy Tree guide for details.

Before you dig the hole to plant your tree, though, please remember to “Call Before You Dig!”

Not only could you damage an underground utility line when you dig, but as trees mature, roots may grow into utility lines and disrupt service, requiring removal. Also, trees planted too close to buildings can damage foundations.

So be smart and make the call to 811.  Within two business days, someone will come out and mark your utility lines, and you can avoid them.


1. Buy a five-gallon or larger tree — don’t forget to save the receipt!

2. Call 811 before you start digging to determine if there’s a uitility line in your tree’s root path.

3. Identify a place 10 – 30 feet from your home on the west, south, and/or east side of the building.

4. Get a shovel and dig a hole TWICE  as wide as the tree container is deep; while you’re digging, run a slow trickle of water onto the tree roots to moisten them thoroughly.

5. Remove tree from container, place in hole. DO NOT COVER THE ROOT SKIRT WITH SOIL. The tree needs to breathe.  Optional:  toss a handful or two of slow release organic fertilizer into the hole; backfill to replenish soil.

6. Water slowly, but thoroughly. Repeat watering 3x weekly for the first month, 2x weekly the second month, once a week for the third month. Then water 2x per month for the next 3 months and once a month through the next growing season (March – August).

7. Renew mulch as needed.


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Monika Maeckle

Monika is a contributor to our newsroom.

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