Urban Reforestation Program

Tree Planting Grants will be available soon!

The application period for Louisville MSD’s Urban Reforestation Grants Program will begin on July 1, 2024. Please check back here for updates then. Grants will pay for trees planted within the MSD Drainage Service area, which includes all of Jefferson County except for the cities of Shively, Jeffersontown, St. Matthews and Anchorage. Contact trees@louisvillemsd.org or (502)540-6022 with any questions.

Trees are valued for the beauty, shade, and air quality benefits they bring to cities and neighborhoods. But did you know that they also play a major role in managing stormwater? 

Without trees, rainfall runs off roofs, parking lots and other hard surfaces in urban landscapes, picking up pollution and speed as it makes its way to nearby streams. Trees and other green infrastructure are powerful tools to slow down and soak up stormwater, reducing erosion and improving water quality.  

  • Tree canopies capture and temporarily store rainfall during showers and storms. This canopy interception means a portion of rainfall does not reach the ground but evaporates from the leaves and branches. When this happens, runoff volumes are reduced, and peak flow is delayed. 
  • Evapotranspiration is the process where soil water is taken up by trees and plants and eventually lost through leaf surfaces to the atmosphere. This helps reduce moisture in soils and increases its capacity to absorb rainfall in the next rain event. 
  • Tree roots engineer the surrounding soil and help improve infiltration. As tree roots grow and die back, they create pathways for rain to penetrate soils, which is especially helpful in urban areas where soils are often highly compacted. 
  • Other water quality benefits that urban trees provide include nutrient uptake, stream bank stabilization, and reduced water temperatures.

Beyond water quality benefits, trees help improve our neighborhoods by: 

  • Providing shade that cools asphalt, roofs, and other surfaces to reduce urban heat island effects.
  • Reducing air pollution 
  • Providing wildlife habitat 
  • Sequestering carbon 
  • Reducing noise pollution

These are just some of the reasons why MSD’s Urban Reforestation Program works with local organizations, neighborhood associations, and residents to plant 1000 trees each year throughout Louisville and Jefferson County.

You can help by planting trees of your own. Learn more about the benefits that your new or existing trees provide our community by following the steps below:

  1. Identify the species of your tree. 
  2. Measure the trunk size (diameter or circumference at about 4.5 feet from the ground). 
  3. Visit MyTree at https://mytree.itreetools.org/#/ to determine your tree benefits or check out the other tree benefit calculators at https://itreetools.org/

Interested in incorporating Green Infrastructure in your construction projects? You’ll find lots of helpful information in Chapter 18 of the MSD Design Manual: Green Infrastructure, Strategies to Manage Stormwater in Our Community.

Tree Planting Grant FAQs

When is the next grant cycle?

The 2024 application window will open on July 1, 2024 and close August 1, 2024. Grant recipients will be notified of their award by August 23, 2024. 

What are the terms of participation?

The minimum tree size at planting is a 3-gallon container. All trees receiving funding must be listed on the Division of Community Forestry Master Tree List and cannot be an invasive species. No more than 10-percent of the total number of trees planted as part of this award may be Size Class C trees unless MSD gives previous approval. Any trees planted in the right-of-way must follow the Division of Community Forestry Standards for Right of Way Trees. Applicants are responsible for obtaining any right-of-way permits and requesting utility marking as necessary.

If a grant is offered and accepted, both parties will sign a written agreement that defines the terms and conditions for the award.

Award Limits

The maximum reimbursable amount per tree is $120 for a 3-gallon container and $240 for a 5-gallon or larger container.  Applicants may request a minimum of $2,400 and up to $6,000 in funding. Actual awards may be less than the requested amount based on the volume of requests.

Who can apply?

MSD’s Urban Reforestation Grant Program is open to residents, organizations, companies and agencies in MSD’s Jefferson County Drainage Service area. This includes all of Jefferson County except for the cities of Shively, Jeffersontown, St. Matthews and Anchorage.

How can the funds be used?

Any documentable costs associated with the tree purchase or installation (including planting or excavation, delivery, watering bags, tree stakes, twine, deer protection, mulch) can be reimbursed up to a maximum of $120 per 3-5 gallon tree and a maximum of $240 per 5 gallon or greater tree. Volunteer hours or donated items cannot be reimbursed.

What are the grant reporting requirements?

Once planting is completed, trees must be added to MSD’s Urban Reforestation GIS app. This easy-to-use tool helps us track the types of trees and the planting locations of all the trees this program has supported. Instructions are provided to all grant recipients.

How are funds disbursed?

Funds are distributed by reimbursement. Upon completion of planting, contact grant administrator to receive invoicing information.

For more information regarding MSD's Urban Reforestation Program, please contact trees@louisvillemsd.org or 502.540.6022.