About Us

What We Do

SDOT Urban Forestry administers, maintains, protects, and expands the City's urban landscape in the street right-of-way to maximize economic, environmental, safety and aesthetic benefits.

Everyone in the community benefits from a healthy urban landscape along the city streets and sidewalks which we all share.

We manage street trees through permit processes for small and large projects. We provide outreach and public education, design, review, and construction oversight to retain and protect or ensure proper installation of new trees and landscape architectural elements in the public realm.

We provide:

  • Street tree planting, pruning and removal permits
  • Street tree inspections
  • Street tree planting
  • Street tree maintenance
  • Landscape maintenance
  • Landscape architectural design
  • Landscape design review
  • Inspection related to tree preservation and protection at construction sites

Our work is falls into three main categories:

  1. Street Tree Permits
    We issue permits tree planting, tree pruning, tree removal/replacement in the public right of way. We call these “Urban Forestry Permits.” Permit requirements are based on specific site conditions and individual tree species. SDOT arborists review applications to ensure the health, preservation, and expansion of Seattle's urban forest. Find out more about Trees and Landscaping Permits.
  2. Trees and Construction: (New Developments and Capital Projects)
    Projects trigger city rules about trees and landscaping along the street. We provide landscape architectural design, design review & construction inspection services for City of Seattle Capital Improvement Projects and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection projects to ensure tree preservation and code-compliant landscape improvements in the Right-of-Way.
  3. Direct Maintenance of Trees and Landscaping Along our Streets.
    Urban Forestry's Field Operations Office is responsible for maintaining SDOT's Tree and Landscape Inventory. In 2010, this inventory includes approximately 40,000 street trees, 204 landscape complexes, and 131 irrigation systems. This office also provides technical assistance and emergency support to clear larger trees and vegetation that fall into the Right of Way.

    Tree Maintenance

    Tree pruning is our most common maintenance practice by far. All of our pruning conforms to Best Management Practices as set forth by the International Society of Arboriculture and as the American National Standards Institute. We also plant, water, mulch, and in some limited instances control pests.

    Landscape Maintenance

    SDOT maintains approximately 123 acres of landscapes within the right-of-way. These landscapes include a diverse variety of plant material and their individual site conditions vary just as widely. Conditions are influenced by the age, type, location, plant material, irrigation system and maintenance regimen that exist at each.

Street Tree Management Plan

This proactive plan assesses SDOT's trees and landscapes across the City and creates nine-year program to maintain these resources efficiently and equitably. Learn more about the Street Tree Management Plan.

Trees and Sidewalks Operations Plan

SDOT's Trees and Sidewalks Operations Plan  addresses how to deal with conflicts between trees and sidewalks, which are common.

Program Goals

Our goals are to: Preserve and improve Seattle's trees through effective regulation and enforcement, street tree inventorying, maintenance and replacement to ensure the health, preservation, and expansion of Seattle's urban forest. With funds provided by the Levy to Move Seattle passed by voters in 2015, we've expanded our ability protect, maintain, and preserve tree canopy. We encourage community members to plant new street trees and are available to collaborate on all types of projects to ensure codes required for tree planting and landscaping in the right-of-way are met.