Want a new tree for your property?

This afternoon, Mayor Nutter is expected to announce a new tree-planting initiative in Philadelphia, through which 2,000 trees will be given to residents who agree to water them, protect them and otherwise pamper them so that they can grow up strong and better clean the air, beautify the city, contribute to property values and more.

The program, the TreePhilly Initiative, can be important in meeting the city's Greenworks goal to plant 300,000 trees by 2015, officials have said.

Street trees are one thing. The city can plant them — and has planted them aplenty. The water department has worked diligently to come up with ingenious containers that would serve the dual purpose of being a tree-planting container and a storm water infiltration basin.

But these public trees present a maintenance challenge. If they aren't tended properly, especially in those vulnerable young years, they can die.

Giving trees to interested residents suggests that most of the trees will get the loving care they need.

The program is offering small and large trees.

The small trees would be trees that will fill a 10-by-10-foot space and grow to about 30 feet tall, such as crab apple, serviceberry, flowering dogwood and sweetbay magnolia.

The largest trees would fill a 30-by-30 space and grow 50 to 100 feet tall, such as sugar maple, river birch and white oak.

The trees will be in five-gallon containers and will stand about five feet tall. Good thing they're no bigger, because residents will need to pick them up at distribution sites, to be announced.

The campaign is being led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Wells Fargo & Company, which is giving a grant of $75,000.

"TreePhilly is an investment in our city's future," Mayor Nutter said in a press release. "Our city will be healthier, safer and more attractive as a result of the trees we plant through this program."

Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, said data indicates that "the most effective way to reach our ambitious tree planting goal is to engage with communities and neighborhoods to encourage people to plant trees on their own property. TreePhilly gives us the resources and mechanisms to do just that," he said, also in the press release.

The deadline for requesting a tree — one per address — is March 31. Pickup days will be April 22-28 in target neighborhoods: West Oak Lane, Tioga, Haddington/Overbrook, Lower Moyamensing/Whitman, Frankford and Kensington. The city will provide those who get the trees with more information closer to the pick-up time.

As part of the deal, residents who get trees have to pledge to plant the tree in the ground (not in a container) within 15 days, to water it with 20 gallons of water a week from March through December for two years, and to protect it from damage by pets, lawn mowers and other hazards.

There's a sign-up form — in seven languages, no less — at www.TreePhilly.Org, or people can call 215-683-0217. Brocuhures for the program — with the tree application included — are available at local recreation centers.

Another 2,000 trees will be offered through the program this fall.