Working for a safe, affordable, vibrant, innovative, and interconnected city.
Learn More Home Page This Department
web graphic
Seattle reLeaf
Seattle reLeaf Home PageBenefitsGet InvolvedPlanting and CareRestorationManagement PlanRegulations

Get Involved
Tree Ambassador
Trees For Neighborhoods
Frequently Asked Questions
Planting Considerations
Past Plantings
Ask Our Experts
Experts Archive
City Tree Directory

Trees for Neighborhoods

Choosing Your Tree

  • Many of these trees will get big! Read species descriptions carefully and envision what the tree will look like in 30+ years before making your selections.
  • Larger trees provide greater benefits to your neighborhood and our environment. Large trees absorb more water, breathe in more carbon dioxide, and breathe out more oxygen than smaller trees.  For these reasons, we recommend planting larger trees whenever appropriate. 
  • Do not plant a tall tree under overhead power lines! Trees planted under power lines should reach a maximum of 25’ at maturity or the safety of the power lines will be compromised. For sites under power lines, select trees from the “under power lines” list.
  • Take time to evaluate potential planting sites on your property. The survival and health of a tree depends on how well suited it is to the site. Before choosing your site, consider:
    • Placement (i.e. is there enough space for this tree when it grows up?)
    • Light (e.g. full sun, part sun, shade?),
    • Moisture,
    • Soil type (e.g. sand, clay)
  • All trees will be planted by program participants. Do you or someone you know need physical assistance planting a tree? Contact us to see if you qualify for our assistance program. or 206-615-1668

Selecting Street Trees

To plant a tree in your planting strip along the street, you must obtain a permit from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Please indicate that you plan to plant a street tree on your application and we will apply for this permit on your behalf. The permitting process is as follows:

    1. Mark your street trees on your application. All street tree applications must be submitted by August 25th. Provide some notes about where you would like to plant the tree, e.g. “I would like to plant the parrotia along 49th Ave on the north side of the driveway”. Obtain a permit. In early September, we will initiate a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) permit on your behalf. Note- Not all street tree applicants will be permitted as many trees will have long waitlists.
    2. Mark underground utilities. An SDOT arborist will contact Washington 811 to mark underground utilities in your planting strip. The arborist will return to your site in September and make a decision about your street tree planting request. The arborist may drive one or more stakes in possible planting locations—please leave these stakes where they are! You do not need to be present for these visits.
    3. Permit notifications. In late September, SDOT will send us all of their street tree decisions and Seattle reLeaf will contact all applicants with permitting decisions in early October. You are not guaranteed to receive a removal permit - that decision is made by SDOT. An approved planting permit is necessary to receive a street tree from us.
    4. CALL BEFORE YOU DIG! The week before attending the planting workshop, you are responsible for contacting Washington 811 and submitting a ticket to dig your planting hole in the designated location. We will provide you a web link for submitting this dig ticket. Note- By the terms of your permit, you must plant the tree in the same location as the stake.

If you have questions about the street tree permitting process, please contact us!

  • To avoid future problems, trees must be planted to the following standards:
    • 3 ½ feet back from the face of the curb
    • 5 feet from underground utility lines
    • 10 feet from power poles
    • 7 ½ feet from driveways (10 feet recommended)
    • 20 feet from street lights and other existing trees
    • 30 feet from street intersections
  • We cannot remove concrete / pavement to create new tree planting locations. If you are planning to remove concrete / pavement yourself, that work must be coordinated with the Department of Transportation. Call 206-684-TREE for more information.

Application Approval

  • The number of trees approved for your yard may be fewer than the number requested.  Please note that tree availability is not guaranteed. If a tree is sold out, you will be added to the waitlist. In 2013, about 30% of the applicants on the waitlist ultimately received a tree.
  • Not all street tree permits are approved. The Seattle Department of Transportation’s arborists may deny your permit for a number of reasons, including proximity to utility lines, street lights, and street intersections. Taking a thorough assessment of your planting site and noting the size of each tree at maturity before applying will increase the chance of your permit being approved.
  • If you do not own your home, you need to ask the permission of the homeowner before applying for trees.

Tree Pickup Information

  • You must be present at the planting and care workshop to pick up your tree(s). Indicate which date you are available to attend the workshop on the application. You can choose between Sunday, October 19th or Saturday, November 1st. You can stop by anytime during the open hours—expect to be there for about 1 hour.  

  • You are responsible for transporting your trees from the pickup site to your home. You may need to rent or borrow a pickup truck if you have a small vehicle or are picking up numerous trees. Remember that having more passengers in the car means less space for trees!
  • The trees will be in 5, 7, or 10 gallon containers and are generally 4-6 feet tall. Staff will help you load your trees on the pick-up days, but you may need to make sure you have help to unload once you are home.
  • All trees should be planted within 1-2 weeks after receiving them. You are responsible for planting the tree, which is why we require each participant to go through a planting workshop at the pickup event.
  • Your young trees will not survive the dry summer without watering. Water bags will be provided to help you care for your trees in the summer. For more tips about caring for your young tree, click here.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Contact us with additional questions or if you need help selecting your trees!  | (206) 615-1668



reLeaf Home | Benefits | Get Involved | Planting & Care | Restoration | Management Plan | Regulations