Canal Winchester residents can pick up a free tree or two on Saturday.

Canal Winchester residents can pick up a free tree or two on Saturday.

The 11th annual free tree giveaway has a new component this year: the Front Yard Tree Program. The first 10 residents who sign an agreement to plant a tree in their front yards will be allowed to take home two trees. The village will send someone to those residences to confirm that the agreements were honored.

"We're trying to establish more canopy along the street," said Dick Miller, the village's urban forester.

Canal Winchester's tree canopy coverage is more than 21 percent, according to a news release from the village, and the goal is to reach 25 percent. The tree canopy is important because it not only catches rainwater, it also filters and prevents it from overflowing drains.

Canal Winchester was recently recognized as a Tree City USA community for the 17th year.

The tree giveaway program has been pretty successful, said Gary Bumpus, chair of the Street Tree Advisory Board.

"We assume most of the trees get planted," he said.

Miller said the tree giveaway typically includes around 100 trees. It costs the city an average of $1,500 per year.

Some of the species distributed at the annual giveaway may be tough to find elsewhere, he said.

"We're giving away lacebark pine," Miller said. "It's one of the most beautiful trees in the world, in my estimation. You can't find that at a retail or a wholesale outlet. They're proven winter-hardy, but are very difficult to find."

Miller said the trees are Ohio-grown and come from suppliers in Ohio.

"We try to get a good variety of shade and ornamental trees," he said. "The public seems to like flowering trees a lot."

The trees will range in size from 18 inches to five feet tall, and will include Korean maple, fall red Ohio buckeye, sugar hackberry, American beech, lacebark pine, Pendens bald cypress and Green Giant western red cedar.

Others will also be available, Miller said last week.

Tree-planting instructions will also be distributed.

Miller said the two most important things to consider when planting a tree are putting the right tree at the right site (for instance, don't plant a tree that will get very tall under utility lines) and planting it at the correct depth. A common mistake people make when planting trees, Miller said, is planting them too deep.

The free tree giveaway will be held on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Stradley Place, which is located on South High Street. It will be held rain or shine.

Residents must show proof of residency, such as a water bill, to receive a free tree.

Miller said the trees are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and the majority are gone within the first hour.