Transform the city’s landscape on Green Tacoma Day, October 14

Volunteers needed to give 14 Metro Parks locations long-lasting makeovers

Want to kick off the fall and winter tree planting season with a true spectacle? Join forces with other Green Tacoma Day volunteers and plant as many as 27 trees over nearly six acres in three hours.

That’s what’s planned for Metro Parks Tacoma’s Verlo Playfield, a popular summer hangout at 4321 McKinley Ave., from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. The playfield is just one of 14 locations where volunteers may sign up to take care of green spaces.

franklin park cr metro parks

Every year, Metro Parks kicks off its fall and winter planting season on Green Tacoma Day and joins with the Green Tacoma Partnership to recruit volunteers who rejuvenate the landscape citywide. Other partners are the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, the Pierce Conservation District, Citizens for a Healthy Bay, Forterra and EarthCorps.

This year, the centerpiece of the Metro Parks effort is Verlo Playfield. The project is the brainchild of Metro Parks Urban Forester Mark McDonough, who recognized that Verlo’s terrain would benefit from a dramatic facelift. With enough volunteers, McDonough hopes to transform Verlo’s relatively barren landscape to near arboretum status over just a few hours. Metro Parks crews will prepare the site in advance to enable volunteers to get the job done. Trees selected include quaking aspen, Southern magnolia, renaissance birch, Norway spruce, scarlet oak, blue atlas cedar, paper birch, London plane and mountain hemlock. One of the goals is to create some shade, and quickly. Some of the trees are already 15 feet tall.

“This is going to be instant gratification for the volunteers because of the effect on this park,” McDonough said. “It’s not like others that already benefit from lots of trees.”

Verlo Playfield is one of seven sites where Metro Parks is recruiting Green Tacoma Day volunteers. The others are McKinley, China Lake,  Franklin,  Oak Tree, and Ryan’s  parks, plus Tacoma Nature Center (Snake Lake).

“There’s great planting opportunity at Verlo, but we’ve got lots of other restoration activities going on, too,” said Richard Madison, the Metro Parks community and special projects coordinator who runs CHIP-in!, short for Citizens Helping Improve Parks. Chip-In! is a year-round volunteer effort at many Metro Parks sites.

Volunteers who have spent months pulling weed and cutting back invasive species will now be rewarded with opportunities to fill in with native species. Madison’s list includes shrubs, ground covers and trees: ocean spray, Western red cedar, Douglas fir, salal, thimbleberry, Pacific ninebark, red osier dogwood and sword fern.

No green thumb or prior tree-planting experience is needed to volunteer. Tools will be provided. Green Tacoma Day is a rain-or-shine event, so dress accordingly. Wear closed-toe shoes and clothes you don’t mind dirtying. If you have work or gardening gloves, so much the better. Children are welcome.

What: Green Tacoma Day volunteer stewardship

When: 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14.

Where: At 14 locations around Tacoma

Information and registration:


Richard Madison, Community/Special Projects Coordinator,(253) 404-3959;

Michael Thompson, Public Information Manager, (253) 305-1092; 

                                                  – Metro Parks