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Restoration Starts At Home

You can help restore Seattle’s urban forest by starting in your own backyard! Removing invasive plants is the first step in habitat restoration.

Invasive plants on residential property do not just degrade the landscape around homes, but also provide the seed source for the invasive plants that invade Seattle’s public spaces. Thousands of volunteer hours have gone into removing invasive species from parks, however until the worst invaders are eliminated on residential property, the seed source will continue to infest parks.

What Can You Do?

  • Rescue trees from smothering English ivy! If you find a tree covered in climbing ivy, do not attempt to yank all of the ivy from the tree's branches because you may damage the tree. Instead, cut the vines at shoulder height and again at the base of the tree. Pull the vines away from the lower tree trunk. Then grub out all the ivy roots from around the tree, creating a circle with a 5-foot radius around the tree. Keep this ring free from ivy. The ivy vines remaining in the tree will soon die because they are no longer attached to their nutrient and water source. Learn more about removing ivy from trees.

After removing the ivy, consider replanting with one of these ivy alternatives.

  • Plant some trees! Native species are great, but ornamental species are also appropriate as long as they are not invasive. Some non-native tree species and cultivars are actually more adaptable to Seattle’s urban environment and require less care to maintain than native species. Confused about the difference between native, non-native, and invasive species? Check out this great overview by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Need help planting a tree? Trees for Neighborhoods helps Seattle residents plant free trees plus provides training in planting and care.

  • Replant with understory plants. Once you have removed the invasive weed from your yard, replant with desireable understory plants. Native plants are a great choice because they are well adapted to our climate, attract native wildlife, and need fewer resources to maintain once they are established. To learn more about native planting or to get tips on creating a landscaping plan, use this great resource from King County.

Other Useful Links

Questions about backyard restoration? Contact us at treesforneighborhoods@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-3979.

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