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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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Growing More Than Trees: Partnerships and Healthy Urban Watersheds

July 24, 2018

We know green infrastructure is about more than the plants. When we plant a tree to help manage stormwater, we’re introducing a new, long-lived resident into the landscape. A tree is shade on a playground, a restorative view from a classroom window, an air filter for the fallout of urban life. Our investments enhance the lives of Portlanders, and they’re only possible through partnerships with the community. Thanks to these community partnerships, our work – and celebration – of healthy watersheds and community has come to fruit in the Lents neighborhood.

Since 2011, the Environmental Services Tree Program has partnered with the Confluence Environmental Center to helps us better serve community through AmeriCorps service placements. Our AmeriCorps members provide opportunities for underserved Portlanders through education, leadership, and the chance to make tangible change in the landscape. Last winter, our AmeriCorps member (Max Rodrigues, pictured below, front row, right) teamed up with Rosemary Anderson High School students to plant trees at the Wattles Boys and Girls Club. Max and Friends of Trees staff spent time in the classroom with students teaching them about trees and the many benefits trees provide for people. Students helped choose the trees they wanted to see on their campus, and then spent an afternoon hands-on, planting their new trees in the school yard. The trees include our native Oregon white oak, evergreen interior live oak, and beautifully flowering cultivars of silverbell and dogwood. While students enjoy their summer break, we’ll be watering the trees for the next three summers to help get them going in their new homes.

These new school yard trees join street trees planted in front of the school and throughout the Lents neighborhood and the Jade District through other BES-community partnerships.

If you’re interested in a map of the school trees to test your tree identification skills, come find us at the Lents Fair on Sunday, August 5th, from 11am to 4pm. We’ll be at SE 92nd and SE Harold, near Wattles Boys and Girls Club and the Belmont goats. In addition to the trees, Environmental Services staff are also excited to share the latest information about our most recent commitment to Lents: The Lents Stabilization and Job Creation Collaborative.


Wattles campus is adjacent to busy transportation corridors. Trees help to provide clean air and visual barriers.

Students at work!


Planting crew poses for a post-planting photo.

A blooming Rosy Ridge silverbell, Halesia carolina ‘Rosy Ridge’

Greening the Jade District one tree at a time

It's Getting Hot! Don't Forget to Water Your Trees

July 11, 2018

Protect your investment in new trees: water them!

Summer is upon us in the Pacific Northwest, and that means it’s time to keep a careful eye on your newly planted trees (those that were planted in the last 3-5 years). The process of being transplanted is stressful, and your new tree doesn’t yet have the roots it needs to be self-sufficient.

So, how much should you water? There’s no hard-and-fast rule for watering trees. How much water the tree needs depends on the kind of tree it is, the soil it’s planted in, and the microclimate around it. Here are a few tips:

  • Start with about 10 gallons per week for every 1” of caliper (“caliper” is the width of your tree’s trunk, measured 6” above the soil line). So, if your new tree is 1.5” in diameter at its base, start with 15 gallons per week.
  • Water your tree deeply, so that the entire area where the roots are (the “root zone”) is moistened, not just the surface. A temporary berm (or raised barrier) at the tree’s dripline (the area directly under the outer circumference of the branches) helps to direct water to the roots while the tree is young. You can break this berm down after a few summers.
  • Mulch under and around the tree to help keep the soil moist and cool. Mulch should be 3-4” deep. Do not pile mulch against the trunk!  It’s a good idea to keep mulch around the tree for life.
  • Don’t overwater or underwater! Keep the soil moist like a wrung-out sponge. Before you water, take a hand tool and dig down a couple of inches. Is the soil still moist? No need to water. Is the soil bone-dry? Try increasing the amount of water slightly, add a berm to capture water, or add mulch to retain it (see above).
  • During those times when it is particularly hot and dry for an extended period, you might need to water the tree more than once a week.  If the leaves begin to wilt and the soil is dry, an extra watering day might be just what the tree needs.

watering a tree

All you need to water a tree is a bucket! Water your tree deeply so that the entire root zone is moistened, not just the surface.

Celebrating another year of tree planting!

July 2, 2018

The Environmental Services Tree Program (ESTP) welcomes 3,000+ new trees to the City

As we gear up for the next tree planting season, we pause for a breath and reflect on the planting season that just ended. That breath is all the sweeter thanks to Portland’s urban trees that help to clean the air, capture the rain, and give the birds perches to sing from. In this moment, we benefit from the trees planted by past generations. To do our part and ensure that future generations benefit from an urban tree canopy, we keep planting.

Planting and care of trees in the city is made possible by the coordination of many groups. Nurseries, landscape contractors, non-profits, city bureaus, private property owners, and a great diversity of passionate volunteers all play a role in the richness of the urban forest around us. Because of the hard work of all these people, we are pleased to report that more than 3,000 new trees were planted through ESTP programs during the 2017-2018 planting season. Thank you to all our partners who made this work possible!

New street trees on SE Holgate

A long line of new street trees graces SE Holgate Blvd at 82nd Ave. Broadleaf evergreens, such as these strawberry trees, provide clean air year-round.

Environmental Services Tree Program 2017-2018 Season Highlights

  • 2,436 street and yard trees planted at residential properties with our non-profit partner Friends of Trees.
  • 449 street trees at private residences, apartments, businesses, and non-profit properties, planted directly through ESTP with the help of our professional landscape contractors.
  • 165 yard trees approved for Treebate, a one-time rebate for single-family residents who buy and plant yard trees on their own.
  • 120 trees planted as part of special projects at schools, churches, and transportation corridors.
  • 5 new species of evergreen trees added to our street tree repertoire, including Baker cypress (Cupressus bakeri), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), box-leaf azara (Azara microphylla), canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis), and strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo).

Now is the time to prepare for next planting season!

Are you interested in planting trees at a single-family residential property?

  • Contact Friends of Trees to learn how to get involved in your once-a-year neighborhood planting day.
  • Rather plant on your own? Treebate returns September 1.
  • Interested in removing and replacing a dead tree? Don’t wait until the last minute! Permitting, tree removal, and stump grinding all take time. Visit the Portland Trees website to learn more about tree removal permits.

Are you interested in planting street trees at an apartment, business, or non-profit property?

The Environmental Services Tree Program is taking sign-ups now! Call 503-823-2255, email, or visit the Environmental Services Tree Program website to learn more.

Green Street Stewards Make a Difference!

May 21, 2018

The Green Street Steward program encourages volunteers to help maintain Environmental Services' green street stormwater facilities in their neighborhoods. We’ve asked volunteer stewards to report back, and the very impressive results are in for 2017:

639 hours spent volunteering

2114 gallons of trash collected

2107 gallons of debris (leaves, sticks, weeds, etc.) collected 

The Green Street Steward team is grateful for the work of community members to help maintain green streets, and we know there’s even more work happening that we don’t hear about! This year, we're thanking stewards by awarding certificates for those who went above and beyond in a few categories (total hours, debris collected, trash collected, and most interesting find).

Our individual winners were:

Most hours logged: Lyle Remington (not pictured), 64.4 hours

Amy Chomowicz

Most debris collected: Amy Chomowicz with 236 gallons! Amy is a City of Portland employee who takes care of a green street on her own time.

Jacqueline Lidell

Most trash collected: Jacqueline Lidell, 42.5 gallons of trash

Sarah and Jeff Lyons

Most interesting find: Jeff and Sarah Lyons, a shopping cart

Our business winners were:

Oregon's Finest

Most hours logged: Oregon’s Finest Green Team, 35 hours

Environmental Science Associates

Most debris collected: Environmental Science Associates, 430 gallons of debris


Most trash collected: Culminate Portland, 390 gallons of trash collected


Most interesting find: Murraysmith, Jack Daniels and a bike chain


We also handed out an MVP (Most Valuable Partner) award to the Surfrider Foundation, Portland Chapter for organizing monthly and special holiday volunteer events to collect a total of 616 gallons of trash throughout the year.

Thank you to all the Green Street Stewards who contributed to keeping our rivers clean this year. We look forward to all the great work that will be done in 2018!

To volunteer as a Green Street Steward, visit our website at

Or email us at

Don’t forget to log your hours so you too can be a winner!

April showers bring…trees!

April is the perfect time to celebrate trees, and your last chance to get a Treebate until September!

April 10, 2017

It’s only natural that we should choose April to celebrate trees. Not only do we celebrate Arbor Day in April, but as the weather warms, trees shake off their dormancy and demand our attention with unfurling leaves, beautiful flowers, and the promise of fruit and shade to come. But trees’ renewed vigor also marks the end of planting season. Your last opportunity to get a Treebate for that tree you planted this winter (or have been meaning to plant) is fast approaching!

There are lots of reasons to celebrate trees, and lots of reasons you may choose to plant one in your yard. As the bureau tasked with keeping our rivers clean, Environmental Services celebrates trees’ ability to slow and reduce runoff from rainstorms, helping to prevent pollution from reaching our waterways. When you plant a tree with enough room to be as big and beautiful as it can be, you’re our partner in clean rivers! To say thank you, we offer half the purchase price of eligible trees, up to $15 for small, $25 for medium, and $50 for large-stature trees, as a rebate on your city sewer/stormwater/water bill.

This April, celebrate Arbor Day at your own home; bring home May flowers and get a little money back.

 magnolia blooms

Magnolia blooms brighten a cloudy day and herald brighter days to come.

hummingbird in pine

This pine wears its foliage with distinction year-round, welcome camouflage for a spring nest.