Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

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

More Contact Info

Frequently Asked Questions

Tree canopy looking upI received a letter – do I have to plant?

No. You received a letter in the mail because our data indicates there may be space for a tree in the right-of-way (“street tree”) 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 the long term care and maintenance of all trees in the right-of-way (“street trees”) rests with the adjacent property owner, it is vital that all trees planted are done so with permission from the property owner.  

If you are not the owner of the property but are interested in planting street trees, let your property owner know.  The owner should have received a letter outlining the program as well.  We will need a call or email from the owner confirming their permission.  At sign-up please indicate who the primary contact will be.

I own a commercial or industrial property but reside outside the Portland-metro area. Can I appoint someone else as the primary contact?

Yes. Because the long term care and maintenance of all trees in the right-of-way (“street trees”) rests with the adjacent property owner, it is vital that all trees planted are done so with permission from the property owner.  However, many commercial and industrial property owners appoint a tenant or property manager to be the primary contact.  At sign-up please provide information for both the property owner and the primary contact person if they are different.

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 is conducted to determine an appropriate species based on the space in the planting strip. Frontages with smaller planting spaces and/or high voltage electrical lines overhead will receive smaller-stature trees.  All street trees are planted from a list approved by Portland Parks 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. 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 deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter.

All trees planted by the Environmental Services Tree Program (ESTP) must meet strict quality standards laid out by Portland Parks Urban Forestry and the contract with our tree planters.  Following planting, ESTP 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. 


Newly planted street trees in concrete cutoutsWhere will the tree be planted?

The location of all trees planted in the right-of-way (“street trees”) must be determined by a City inspector.  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 mark the curb with white paint at all potential street tree planting locations (if you do not have a curb, the inspector will leave a white pin in the ground).  If you cannot find these marks, please call the Environmental Services Tree Program at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov before the deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter.

We do recommend involving your tenant(s) in a discussion about trees before confirming your participation in the program. Some tenants may have concerns about tree locations based on their use of the property.

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

Inspectors consider many factors when placing trees in the right-of-way (“street trees”).  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 Environmental Services Tree Program at 503-823-2255 before the deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email or letter.

Who will take care of the trees?

The long-term care and maintenance of all trees in the right-of-way (“street trees”) is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner.  The Environmental Services Tree Program offers a partnership in tree planting.  We will inspect for appropriate locations, purchase, transport, and plant trees for you.  We inspect the trees to ensure they were planted correctly, and we will monitor the condition of all trees for the first three growing seasons (the “establishment period”).  As the tree grows, we recommend consulting an ISA Certified Arborist for pruning needs and long-term care.

During the establishment period, our contractors will water the tree, add mulch, fix stakes, and provide pruning services as needed. The transplant process is stressful and some trees may decline after planting. Most trees improve over time. If you believe your tree has died, please contact us at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov.

Portland Parks Urban Forestry manages all street tree activities including permitting for planting, pruning, and removal.  They also provide free health assessments for mature street trees. To obtain a permit, request a street tree health assessment, or for more information, please visit www.portlandoregon.gov/trees or call 503-823-TREE (8733).

Will the tree need water?leaves of Pacific madrone

Yes.  Newly planted trees need deep watering for the first 2-3 summers (typically May to September).  Before this time, the roots are not established enough to support the tree.  As part of this planting service, Environmental Services Tree Program contractors will water the tree for the first three summers.  You should not water the tree during this time.  If you do not think your tree is being watered, please contact us at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov.

Will the tree need to be pruned?

Pruning a young tree by a professional arborist is important for the long-term health and structural integrity of a tree. However, pruning too soon after planting can create additional stress that may lead to decline. Our contractors will provide pruning services as needed during the establishment period.  As the tree grows, we recommend consulting an ISA Certified Arborist for pruning needs and long-term care.

Portland Parks Urban Forestry manages all street tree activities including permitting for planting, pruning, and removal. For more information and to obtain permits, please call 503-823-TREE (8733) or visit www.portlandoregon.gov/trees.

What can I do to care for my tree during the first three years?

Good stewardship of a tree starts from day one. An Environmental Services Tree Program (ESTP) contractor will provide basic establishment care including watering, but there are other actions you can take to help your new trees thrive:

    • Let your staff/tenants know new trees will be planted and watered by an ESTP contractor. Extra eyes on trees can help deter damage.
    • Be careful not to damage the trunk with string trimmers, car doors, bicycles, etc.
    • If your landscape is maintained by a professional service, please let them know that the new trees are being established by an ESTP contractor and ask them not to water or prune them for the first three years.
    • Remove garbage, weeds, and pet waste from around trees.
    • Call 503-832-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov with questions or concerns.

Can I change my mind?

Yes.  Signing up for a street tree indicates your interest, but it does not commit you to a tree automatically.  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 “opt-out” before the deadline listed in your “Welcome to Our Partnership” email by calling us at 503-823-2255 or emailing itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov.

Will you remove an existing tree?

No, the Environmental Services Tree Program is a tree planting and stewardship program only.  Our goal is to increase net tree canopy in support of clean rivers and healthy watersheds. 

Portland Parks Urban Forestry manages all street tree activities including permitting for planting, pruning, and removal. For more information and to obtain permits, please call 503-823-TREE (8733) or visit www.portlandoregon.gov/trees


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 trees that are small-stature beneath high-voltage lines to prevent future limbs from touching them.  Low-voltage and communication lines are insulated and it is ok for tree branches grow 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 to select a suitable tree from a list approved by Portland Parks Urban Forestry.

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 Portland Parks Urban Forestry.  These precautions are in place to help prevent damage to infrastructure such as sidewalks. We also water trees deeply during the first three summers to encourage deeper rooting.

Root pruning may reduce the likelihood of future sidewalk damage.  For more information, visit: www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/article/492200

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.