SAN DIEGO — Whenever Chelsea Gastelum needs a reset, she walks down her stairs to her backyard.

“When you want that ‘I need to escape to nature,’ I can literally walk into the backyard and escape into nature,” she said.

What You Need To Know

  • Qualifying SDG&E customers can receive a $35 rebate for planting or potting a one- or five-gallon tree or plant species

  • Customers can apply for up to five rebates annually

  • Customers don't need a yard to qualify, as trees or other plant species can be planted in large containers on outdoor balconies or patio areas

  • Urban neighborhoods with mature trees can be up to 11 degrees cooler in the summer than neighborhoods without trees

Gastelum has put a lot of hard work into turning her backyard into a safe haven, and now she’s getting some extra help.

The Community Tree Rebate Program from San Diego Gas & Electric gives customers up to five $35 rebates for planting trees and plants.

Gastelum opted to get five native milkweed plants. They take less water and help threatened butterfly populations thrive.

“But if you look at this plant and you’re like, ‘Oh, this is $9.99,’ and then you look at another one that’s nonnative that’s $4.99, people go for that one,” Gastelum said. “But if you get a rebate on the plants, it makes it easier to say, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.’ So that’s why I went with it.”

The program is one of many popping up around the country, encouraging people to help fight climate change and keep cities cooler.

Brian Widener has been fighting to bring the benefits of trees to all communities. He’s the city forester in San Diego and said urban neighborhoods with mature trees can be up to 11 degrees cooler in the summer than neighborhoods without trees.

“These trees make the neighborhood just a much more livable neighborhood,” Widener said.

Thanks to Widener’s passion and partnership with SDG&E, they’re planting 400 trees in the urban neighborhood of City Heights.

“Yeah, we’re planting trees for benefits and things like that, but the trees are also sprucing up the neighborhood, really, and bringing value to the neighborhood overall,” Widener said.

Native plants need water to get established but will use less water in the years to come.

“I don’t think people realize how important they are until all the sudden they see them, and then they’re like, ‘Whoa, wait a second. This is awesome,’” Gastelum said.

Gastelum also recommends calling ahead to nurseries to make sure they have the species that qualify for rebates.