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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

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Frequently Asked Questions

I received a letter – do I have to plant?looking at tree together

No. You received a letter in the mail because our data indicates there may be space for a street tree in the right-of-way on one or more of the frontages at your property. If you are not interested in planting a street tree, no further action is required.

I do not own the property – can I participate in the program?

Yes, with owner permission. Because responsibility for long-term care and maintenance of all trees in the right-of-way (street trees) rests with the adjacent property owner, property owners must give explicit permission to plant trees. However, renters do participate in our program, often offering to take on establishment care for the tree, such as watering and mulching.

If you are not the property owner but are interested in planting a street tree, share the opportunity with your landlord. They should have received a letter as well. We will need a call or email from your landlord confirming their permission. When you sign up please indicate who the primary contact for tree establishment care will be.

I own the property but do not reside there – can I participate in the program?

Yes. We have many participants with tenants at their property plant with us. The arrangement for establishment care (watering, mulching, etc.) should be made between you and the tenant. When you sign up, please provide us with the contact information for the party assuming the establishment care of the tree. Long-term care and maintenance of all trees in the right-of-way (street trees) is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, not the tenant.

Can I change my mind?

Yes. Signing up for a street tree indicates your interest, but it does not automatically commit you to a tree. Following sign-up, you will receive a street tree inspection to determine the number and location of potential trees, followed by a list of trees that may be planted. If either of these steps cause you to change your mind, or for any other reason, you can call to opt-out before the deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter. Please contact us at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov.

deciduous tree in winter

Who will take care of the tree?

Portland Parks Urban Forestry regulates all street tree activities, including permitting for planting, pruning, and removal. To obtain a permit or for more information, please visit www.portlandoregon.gov/trees or call 503-823-TREE (8733).The Tree Program offers a partnership in tree planting. We will inspect for an appropriate location, purchase, transport, and plant trees for you. We inspect that the tree was planted correctly and will visit twice to monitor its health. The long-term care and maintenance of all trees in the right-of-way (street trees) are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. We leave tree care tags with newly-planted trees and welcome calls or emails if you are new to tree care and would like additional advice.

Will the tree need water?

Yes. Newly-planted trees need deep watering for the first two to three summers (typically May to September). Before this time, the roots are not robust enough to support the tree. The general recommendation is 10 gallons a week per tree, all at once, but this may change depending on the species and your soil.

What kind of tree will I receive?

A number of factors determine the tree you receive. Before assigning a tree to a property, an inspection determines the available space based on the width of the right-of-way, potential conflicts with utilities such as water and gas, and the presence of safety signs, street lights, and existing trees. We also consider other features such as business signs and the type of traffic on the street to determine a suitable tree. All street trees are planted from a list approved by Urban Forestry. Our goal is to plant the right tree in the right place.

Following a street tree inspection, you will receive an email with a list of the types of trees that may be planted at your property. Due to limited availability, we cannot guarantee a specific tree; however, if you are concerned about any of the trees on the list, please contact us at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov before the opt-out deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter.

All trees planted by the Tree Program must meet strict quality standards laid out by Urban Forestry and the contract with our tree planters. Following planting, staff will inspect your tree to make sure it was planted to specification and it is of quality stock. Our goal is to plant a tree that will not only survive, but thrive. 

Where will the tree be planted?crape myrtle

A city inspector must determine the location of all trees planted in the right-of-way. Inspectors consider many factors when placing trees, including the width of the right of way, potential conflicts with utilities such as water and gas, and the presence of safety signs, street lights, and existing trees. Our goal is to plant the right tree in the right place.

At the time of their visit, the inspector will leave a note on your door with your inspection results. They will also mark the curb with white paint at all potential street tree planting locations (if you do not have a curb, the inspector will draw a white circle on the ground).  If you cannot find these marks, please call the Tree Program at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov before the opt-out deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter.

What if I do not like the location marked by an inspector?

Inspectors consider many factors when placing a street tree. Some frontages are more flexible in locating potential tree planting spaces than others. In addition, inspectors are required to preserve the potential for tree canopy cover by marking the maximum number of potential trees. An inspector cannot move a mark in such a way that the total number of potential trees will be decreased. However, you are not obligated to plant all the locations marked. If you would like clarification on how your trees were located or to request that a location not be planted, please call the Tree Program at 503-810-2255 before the opt-out deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter.

Can I plant a tree in my yard?

Currently, the Tree Program offers free trees for the public right-of-way and on publicly-owned properties. If you are interested in planting trees on privately-owned residential property, we encourage you to look into our Treebate Program or consider planting with Friends of Trees.

Will you remove an existing tree?

No, the Tree Program is a tree planting and stewardship program only. Our goal is to increase tree canopy in support of clean rivers and healthy watersheds. Our programmatic permit with Urban Forestry does not allow for removal and replacement of existing street trees. Portland Parks Urban Forestry regulates all street tree activities, including permitting for planting, pruning, and removal. To obtain a permit or for more information, please visit www.portlandoregon.gov/trees or call 503-823-TREE (8733).

I have power lines – can I plant a street tree?

Yes! The only power lines that a tree cannot touch are high-voltage lines. High-voltage lines are not present on all utility poles. When they are present, they are the highest lines. We plant small-stature trees beneath high-voltage lines to prevent the tree from interacting with them. Low-voltage and communication lines are insulated and will not cause a fire if a tree grows up past them. When an inspector visits the property, they will note whether you have power lines overhead and what kind they are. This information helps us select a suitable tree from a list approved by Urban Forestry.

trees and the city of portland

What happens if tree roots break the sidewalk?

It is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to fix damage to sidewalks. While we cannot guarantee a tree will never break the sidewalk, we only plant trees that are appropriate for the space as determined by a city inspector and selected from a list approved by Urban Forestry. These precautions are in place to help prevent damage to infrastructure such as sidewalks. In addition, deep watering of your new tree during the first 2-3 summers will encourage deeper rooting.

Where can I get more information?

If you don’t see the answer to your question here, please contact us at 503-823-2255 or itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov for more information.