Beautification & Community

Greenspaces restore our local economies.
They create stronger, more cohesive communities
with real dollars-and-cents benefits.

• Commerce: Treescaped business districts average 12% higher revenue than treeless areas, and consumer responses to green retail and business locations are consistently positive. “Views of green” have even been shown to improve employee satisfaction and productivity for area businesses.

• Property values & rent rates: Planting a tree within 50 feet of a residence can increase its value by 9%. Houses within 1/4 mile of a park average 10% higher value. And the reclamation and greening of vacant lots has been shown to increase adjacent property values by 30%.

• Safety:  Beautification projects bring neighbors together, building pride, cohesion and connection. Public housing areas with trees and vegetation have shown a 50% reduction in both violent crimes and property crimes.

• Health: Green public spaces encourage exercise, while local gardens promote healthy eating habits and better nutrition. Access to public greenspaces has been shown to lower heart rates and reduce stress, and even has been connected to reduced rates of asthma, ADD and skin cancer.

• Infrastructure savings: Treescapes reduce soil erosion, decrease stormwater runoff (reducing need for mechanical controls), and extend the life of street/sidewalk surfaces because of shade. For example: Street trees in Minneapolis are shown to save $6.8 million annually in energy costs,  and $9.1 million in stormwater treatment.


Community Improvement Beautification Projects

Community Gardening

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the People’s Garden Initiative to promote local gardening and sustainability. The name of this program comes from the fact that when Abraham Lincoln founded the USDA in 1862 he referred to it as “The People’s Department”. Only a short time after the Initiative was announced, Keep America Beautiful became a partner in the program. Following the results of a gardening survey this past summer, KAB and the USDA were able to determine over on hundred affiliates cultivate People’s Gardens. For those of you who may still be wondering what exactly a People’s Garden is, it’s actually quite simple.

There are three principles related to a People’s Garden:
1.    A People’s Garden must benefit the community: It must provide a place for leisure, food for those in need, habitat for wildlife, storm water control and/or erosion protection.
2.    A People’s Garden must be community based: Like so much of the work you already do these gardens must be a collaboration between other organizations and the community.
3.    A People’s Garden must incorporate sustainable practices: The garden must include actions that nurture, maintain and protect the environment such as; composting, mulching, planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2012

In conjunction with this Department-wide commemoration, The People’s Garden Initiative is sending one seed packet of Tomato ‘Abraham Lincoln’ to all registered People’s Gardens throughout the country. The USDA is asking all partners who tend these gardens to grow this heirloom variety as a living tribute to the Department’s visionary founder – Abraham Lincoln. This is an effort that celebrates the history of community gardening in the United States. It also reminds us that for generations, Americans have been growing and gardening together for a cause. Please see the attached document PDF that illustrates what the front of the seed packet looks like.  As we are proud of the People’s Gardens we have already registered across the nation, let us continue our momentum being the nation’s leaders in the creation of People’s Gardens and please register each garden on the USDA website database by going to and selecting ‘Join Us’ to register your garden. Make sure to select ‘Keep America Beautiful’ when prompted. Once registered you can share photos and request a free sign to show your support.

What is a People’s Garden?
People’s Gardens vary in size and type, but all are required to have three components in common. They must benefit the community. They must be collaborative – that is, the garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations. And third, they must incorporate sustainable practices. The gardens might use compost or mulch. They might contain native plants or encourage beneficial insects. They also might exemplify water conservation, for instance, capturing rain in a barrel to water the garden.  Gardens located at private residences are not eligible to become People’s Gardens. You can declare an existing garden as a People’s Garden as long as it incorporates the three components.

What is the People’s Garden Initiative?
Secretary Tom Vilsack began the People’s Garden Initiative – named in honor of President Lincoln’s original name of USDA as the “People’s Department” – in 2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to challenges facing our country – from hunger to the environment.

How can my garden be recognized as a People’s Garden?
Is your garden benefiting the community, incorporating sustainable practices and a collaborative effort? If yes to all three criteria, congratulations on growing a People’s Garden! Regardless of type – vegetable, beautification, wildlife, or other – new and existing gardens can receive the designation of a People’s Garden if they meet the three criteria.

 Graffiti Hurts

Graffiti Hurts

A national partnership with The Sherwin-Williams Company and its Krylon brand, Graffiti Hurts® ( provides communities with educational and programming tools to reduce the incidence and severity of graffiti and tagging. The program addresses community-based solutions for graffiti abatement and prevention.
Cori Rotter

 National Planting Day

National Planting Day

National Planting Day provides a stage for the important role that greening and beautification play in creating vibrant communities, while highlighting the critical nature of native plants and trees in enhancing biodiversity and rebuilding ecosystems. Beautiful public places transcend aesthetic appeal to positively impact the lives of area residents, visitors, businesses and institutions. Green spaces restore our local economies, creating stronger, more cohesive communities with real dollars-and-cents benefits. Native plantings enhance both the environmental and economic sustainability of neighborhoods and regions.
Cori Rotter
National Planting Day