Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

More Contact Info

Frequently Asked Questions - Private Trees

I received a letter – do I have to plant? 

No. If you are not interested in planting a trees, no further action is required. 

I was told before I do not have space for trees – why are you sending me another letter? 

In previous years we offered street trees only. We are now offering tree planting on private property in addition to street trees. If you do not have room for street trees, but think you may have room for trees elsewhere on the property, we welcome you to sign up with us again. 

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 rests with the property owner, it is vital that all trees planted are done so with permission from the property owner. 

If you are not the owner or a designated representative of the property (such as a property manager) but are interested in planting trees, let your property owner know. The owner should have received a letter outlining the program as well. If you provide us with contact information, we can also reach out to your landlord or property owner on your behalf. 

I own the 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 rests with the property owner, it is vital that all trees planted are done so with permission from the property owner. However, many commercial and multi-family residential property owners appoint a property manager, facilities manager, or tenant to be the primary contact. At sign-up please provide information for both the property owner and the primary contact, if they are different. 

What kind of tree will I receive? 

A number of factors determine the tree you receive, including the available space and your preferences. We prioritize native and evergreen trees, urban tolerant trees, and trees oriented towards future climate conditions. Our goal is to plant the largest tree appropriate for the space, to maximize the environmental benefits that accrue over the life of the tree, without causing damage to your property or business. Program staff will work with you to choose trees that meet both our watershed health goals as well as your site-specific needs and interests.  

All trees planted by the Environmental Services Tree Program (ESTP) must meet strict quality standards. 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. 

Many people ask about the size of the mature trees. The following is not an exhaustive list of what we plant, but provides examples of the types of treeand mature sizes. Please note that we do not plant arborvitae hedge rows.

Examples of large-form trees - these trees mature at greater than 50 feet tall and between 25-50+ feet wide. These make excellent shade trees and support mature canopies that leave room for business signs underneath. 
Botanical Name Common Name Native Evergreen View more information about this tree
Ginkgo biloba ginkgo, maidenhair tree     https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/ginkgo-biloba 
Quercus chrysolepsis canyon live oak     https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/quercus-chrysolepis 
Quercus garryana Oregon white oak X   https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/quercus-garryana 
Pinus ponderosa ponderosa pine X X https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/pinus-ponderosa 
Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas-fir X X https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/pseudotsuga-menziesii 
Examples of medium-form trees - these trees mature between 30-50 feet tall and 10-35 feet wide. These trees help to increase the diversity of tree species we plant and are suitable when larger spaces are not available for tree planting. 
Botanical Name Common Name Native Evergreen View more information about this tree
Calocedrus decurrens incense-cedar   X https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/calocedrus-decurrens 
Cupressus arizonica Arizona cypress   X https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/cupressus-glabra 
Parrotia persica Persian ironwood     https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/parrotia-persica 
Quercus hypoleucoides silverleaf oak   X https://xeraplants.com/plants/quercus-hypoleucoides/ 
Examples of small-form trees and arborescent shrubs - these trees mature between 15-30 feet tall and 10-25 feet wide. These trees are suitable for smaller planting spaces. 
Botanical Name Common Name Native Evergreen View more information about this tree
Arbutus unedo strawberry tree   X https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/arbutus-unedo 
Laurus nobilis bay laurel   X https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/laurus-nobilis 
Pistacia chinensis Chinese pistache     https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/pistacia-chinensis 
Rhamnus purshiana cascara X   https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/rhamnus-purshiana 


Where will the tree be planted?
 

On private property, program staff will work with you to determine potential planting locations that best suit your needs and interestsWe can plant in existing landscape areas, or create new planting areas by removing asphalt or cement, such as in underutilized parking lots. 

After you sign up, a city inspector will visit your property and work with you to put together a proposed planting plan. Planting will only proceed with approval from the property owner after review of the proposed plan by the date listed in the Welcome to Our Partnership letter. 

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

Who will take care of the trees? 

The long-term care and maintenance of all trees is the responsibility of the 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 four growing seasons (the “establishment period”). As the tree grows, we recommend consulting a 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 during the first four years you believe your tree has died, please contact us at 503-823-2255 or email itreepdx@portlandoregon.gov. 

Will the tree need water? 

Yes. Newly planted trees need deep watering during dry periods for their first few years. Before this time, the roots are not established enough to support the tree. Environmental Services Tree Program contractors will water the tree for the first four growing seasons following planting. You should not water the tree during this time. 

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 a certified arborist for pruning needs and long-term care. 

What can I do to care for my tree during the first four 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 tree(s) 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 four 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. After you sign up, a city inspector will visit your property and work with you to put together a proposed planting plan. Planting will only proceed with approval from the property owner after review of the proposed plan by the date listed in the Welcome to Our Partnership letter. If you do not approve of the site plan, trees will not be planted. 

What happens if tree roots damage a paved surface? 

It is the responsibility of the property owner to fix damage from tree roots. While we cannot guarantee a tree will never cause damage, our program prioritizes trees that provide maximum benefits in a given area while minimizing the potential for damage. We also water trees deeply during the first four summers to encourage deeper rooting. Note that tree size is not the only factor to consider if infrastructure damage is a concern. 

Root pruning may reduce the likelihood of damage to paved surfaces. 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.