Keep the Emerald City Green

ReleafGreenNow that spring is here, here is some timely information about maintaining trees from the City of Seattle’s reLeaf program:

Trees bring life to Seattle. Some of the benefits of our tree canopy are:

  • Trees clean the air
  • They can increase your home’s selling price by up to 20%
  • They bring beauty and grandeur to the street
  • Trees reduce global warming pollution
  • Trees hold and filter a lot of water, reduce flooding and prevent toxins from flowing into our waterways
  • Trees provide valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife, and help protect salmon streams

Seattle currently has a 23% tree canopy cover. The goal is to reach 30% by 2037. We can help build the canopy by planting and maintaining trees.

Who is responsible for maintaining the street tree in front of my house?

All planting strip trees are regulated by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), but only a percentage are maintained by SDOT. If a tree was planted by a property owner, or has grown naturally, the abutting property owner is responsible for maintaining the tree. If you are unsure who may have planted your tree, you can call 206-684-TREE to obtain information about maintenance responsibility.

Do I need a permit to prune, plant, or remove a street tree?

Yes. Permits are issued by SDOT. The planting application can be found online here. The pruning and removal application can be found here.

Do I need a permit to remove a tree on my property?

Removal of trees or vegetation adjacent to environmentally critical areas including streams, wetlands, shorelines, and steep slopes requires approval. Additionally, interim regulations passed in 2009 implemented limits on the type and number of trees that may be removed in all commercial, low-rise, and mid-rise zones and on single family lots 5,000 sq. ft. or greater. While no permit is required, property owners are responsible for meeting applicable limitations. More information is available here.

Can I plant trees under power lines?

Yes, as long as you plant a small tree that will not grow to become entangled in the lines. A 10 foot clearance should be kept between trees and power lines. Tree limbs contacting power lines are the number one cause of power outages in Seattle.

Can I top or prune a City-owned tree to improve my view?

The City does not allow the topping of trees for private views. Topping is a process that will cause long-term harm to the trees, increase work later when the tree re-sprouts, and will lead to hazardous situations with the tree as it decays at the topping point. The City may work with adjacent residents to prune trees correctly if possible; however it is not always possible to accommodate views through pruning. Residents who wish to see trees pruned for views can request a tree trimming permit from the department managing the trees in question.

When do I need a certified arborist, and how can I find one to hire?

Certified arborists are trained tree professionals certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. Arborists can prune trees of all sizes, inspect and treat trees for pests and diseases, and safely remove dead or unsafe trees. Arborists can also plant trees, provide emergency tree care, remove stumps, and address issues such as fertilization. Not all those who advertise as tree care professionals are certified arborists; make sure you hire one who is. Certified arborists in the Seattle area can be found here.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>