Who We Are

The strength of our tree canopy is intertwined with the health of Nashvillians and the quality of our natural environment.


Our vision is to build a tree canopy for Nashville that creates more equitable, healthy, climate-resilient neighborhoods.

What does an equitable, healthy, climate-resilient city look like?

Our guiding principles

We work to create an equitable canopy distribution by focusing our planting efforts in areas with fewer trees. Too often, neighborhoods with less canopy coverage are lower-income, and have a higher population percentage of people of color. Learn more about Root Nashville’s impact areas.

Study after study shows that human health is linked to the many environmental benefits provided by the proximity to higher percentages of tree-canopy coverage. More trees means healthier children, seniors, families, and communities.


Trees draw down pollution from the air, cool cities, drink up thousands of gallons of stormwater, supply homes for wildlife, and protect streams from polluted runoff. The environmental benefits of trees are so numerous as to be one of the campaign’s chief motivators.


Our partnership with Metro and our grassroots approach to planting create meaningful opportunities for community engagement, input, and participation from Nashville residents, nonprofits, businesses, elected officials, and neighborhood leaders. All newly planted 1”-caliper trees (and seedlings that survive their first year after planting) count towards the citywide Root Nashville goal, no matter who plants them — nonprofits, local government, individuals, or businesses. We are all in this together.


It’s not enough to plant thousands of trees. To survive and thrive, these trees need proper care. Our professional Tree Care Program delivers watering and maintenance services to newly-planted trees — especially during the hottest, driest months of their first few years.


The Root Nashville campaign is a first-of-its kind public-private partnership in Nashville. The campaign is led by the Cumberland River Compact, which leads the day-to-day operations of the campaign, and Metro Nashville. Metro Water Services is the lead campaign partner from Metro.

Cumberland River Compact logo

Cumberland River Compact

“All Nashvillians will reap the many benefits that come from planting trees, including safer, more prosperous neighborhoods, cleaner air and water, energy savings, greater resilience to flooding and extreme heat, and improved mental and physical health.”

— Mekayle Houghton, Executive Director, Cumberland River Compact

Trees and water are a match made in the shade. The Cumberland River Compact’s mission is to enhance the health and enjoyment of the Cumberland River and its tributaries through education, collaboration, and action. Trees fit into this equation  because they strengthen stream banks, prevent soil erosion, clean water, beautify our city, and so much more. The Cumberland River Compact has a long history of tree planting in the Cumberland River Basin.

Nashville metro water services logo

Metro Water Services

“Trees provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. Planting trees is one of the most cost-effective ways to decrease flooding and promote cleaner waterways; therefore, trees are a critical strategy in Nashville’s stormwater management. This is why Metro Water Services is fully committed to our partnership in the Root Nashville campaign.”

— Scott Potter, Director, Metro Water Services

What’s one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to mitigate stormwater runoff? Planting trees, of course. Metro Water Services provides water, wastewater, and stormwater services to over 250,000 residents. Their mission? To supply, treat, manage, and protect our water resources in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all who live, work, and play in our community.

Advisory Board

The campaign is guided by an Advisory Board, which consists of partner organizations that contribute expertise and support to Root Nashville, and expand its impact. NashvilleHealth leads this group as chair of the Advisory Board.

NashvilleHealth, chair
Cumberland River Compact, operational partner
Metro Water Services, lead Metro partner
Mayor’s Office
Hands On Nashville
Metro Public Health Department
The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee
Nashville Tree Foundation
Urban Land Institute

Additional Metro support

Metro Tree Advisory Committee (MTAC)
The campaign is guided by an Advisory Board, which consists of partner organizations that contribute expertise and support to Root Nashville, and expand its impact. NashvilleHealth leads this group as chair of the Advisory Board.

Metro General Services
Metro Parks & Recreation
Metro Planning Department
Metro Public Works
Metro Department of Codes & Building Safety

Friends and tree planters

Davidson County Sheriff’s Office
Metro Nashville Public Schools
Nashville Electric Service
Nashville Tree Conservation Corps
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Tennessee Division of Forestry
Tennessee Environmental Council
Tennessee State University
Tennessee Tree and Shrub,
TN American Society of Landscape Architects
Trevecca Nazarene University


Want to learn more?

FAQs & other details

Champion your own neck of the woods! Captains accepted into the program will: get to know your neighbors and increase a sense of community, improve public health and environmental quality, stay safely active and engaged in the community, earn a $150 stipend for successful organizing (applicable to Captains in areas eligible for free trees), and, of course, increase your neighborhood’s tree canopy.

Applications for the first round of Captains were due May 8, and Root Nashville will respond to all applicants by May 18 at the latest with follow-up information.

Did you miss the application window, but still interested in becoming a Captain? Stay tuned for more information about how you can still be involved by going the neighborhood fundraising route.


Applications are currently closed, but there are still opportunities to participate by fundraising in your neighborhood. Raise enough to cover the cost of the trees, and Root Nashville will still provide all the same support: ordering and delivering trees, and leading the planting day. Trees are $150 each, and each planting will need at least 20 trees, bringing the total to at least $3,000 for Captains to raise. Plantings are capped at 50 trees (so the Captain and neighborhood would need to raise a total of $7,500 max) for ease of transportation and delivery.

Stay tuned over the summer for more information.

Another idea to consider: would your employer consider sponsoring your neighborhood planting? Contact us if you’d like to discuss this idea.

Applications are currently closed, but stay tuned for future opportunities. We would love to work with your church or school!

Energy, excitement, and a desire to improve your neighborhood. You do not need to be a tree expert in order to organize a planting. We just ask for your enthusiasm, organization ability, and neighborly connections! Whenever needed, the Root Nashville team is also always here to answer any questions you might have.

Root Nashville’s impact areas were determined using key data points: rates of hospitalization due to respiratory illness, number of impaired/polluted streams, average daytime temperature, percentage of vulnerable population, and rates of current canopy coverage. This data revealed that North Nashville, South Nashville, and Madison will significantly benefit from additional trees. Click here to learn more about impact areas and the origins of the Root Nashville campaign in our first annual report.

Nashville suffered significant damage from the recent devastating tornado, including our tree canopy. Replanting is critical to help restore the lost benefits. See the Benefits of Trees one-pager to learn more about how trees are connected to livability and quality of life.

The heart of the Root Nashville campaign is creating an equitable canopy distribution. Focusing on impact areas and neighborhoods impacted by the tornado will allow us to do that.

If you are interested in organizing a large-scale planting of big 1”-caliper trees, applying for this Root Nashville Neighborhood Planting Captain program is the way to go. However, if this program isn’t the best fit for you, partner organizations offer other replanting opportunities.

In response to the tornado, the Nashville Tree Foundation launched ReLeaf 2020, a replanting program which will include free container tree giveaways in September in affected neighborhoods. Keep an eye on their website for more information. This is a great option if you are interested in free 3-gallon container trees available for pickup. The Nashville Tree Foundation will also organize plantings in each tornado-affected community in the fall.

In addition, the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps will offer a tornado program called Operation Overstory. Operation Overstory allows those affected by the storm of 2020 to submit a request to receive a large canopy tree species for free through their Farm-to-Yard tree sale program. For those not impacted by the storm, their tree sale is an alternative way to receive a tree conveniently delivered to your house. These trees also count towards the Root Nashville citywide goal of planting 500,000 trees by 2050.

Root Nashville is a long-term campaign, and there is always another planting season around the corner. We are happy to work with you when you are ready, and we understand that in some neighborhoods, immediate relief efforts are still underway.

Yes! If you work for a company or organization that might sponsor your participation as a Captain, reach out to us to discuss the possibility (hello@rootnashville.org). We’d be happy to support your request and provide any information you need to make the ask.

Feel free to reach out to hello@rootnashville.org for general questions. You can also email Root Nashville Campaign Manager Meg Morgan at meg.morgan@cumberlandrivercompact.org, or Root Nashville Program Coordinator Chandler Kucera at chandler.kucera@cumberlandrivercompact.org.