FOLIAGE WEEK | New online tool can help you identify the right tree to plant so we can all keep our urban landscape happy & healthy.

Under a tree in bloom in Columbia City. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.

Summary

  • It’s the first full week of spring and we can feel it in the – warmer – air! Our trees can too.  
  • Trees and open spaces help keep the environment healthy – which means they help keep our communities healthy, too. 
  • Thinking about planting a tree or two? We are too. Our new tool makes it easier to find the right tree for your space, which helps ensure the tree has a long and healthy life. 
  • We all want our trees to have long, healthy lives. Ultimately, this will help us all plant the right tree in the right place so our urban landscape is vibrant and mutually beneficial! 

It’s the first full week of spring and we can feel it in the – warmer – air! Our trees can too.  

To celebrate the occasion, we’re highlighting the work of our Urban Forestry team – along with our partners at the Office of Sustainability and the Environment and Seattle Public Utilities – who work together to maintain our city’s trees and green spaces.  

We’re calling this Foliage Week.  

Trees and open spaces help keep the environment healthy – which means they help keep our communities healthy, too.  

SDOT planting trees in West Seattle.
SDOT planting trees in West Seattle. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.

Trees and green spaces have significant environmental, economic, health, and social benefits — including improving air and water quality, offering natural stormwater management and soil protection, and making community spaces more beautiful and enjoyable. We all benefit from a healthy urban landscape along the streets and sidewalks which we all share. 

Our Urban Forestry team maintains, protects, and expands the City’s urban landscape to maximize all these benefits! You might think about Seattle’s magnificent  forested parks when you think about urban trees, but many of our city’s trees are actually on the right-of-way along streets and sidewalks. Our Urban Forest team maintains these trees and designs urban landscaping along the right-of-way. We also  work with private developers to manage permits, review designs, and provide construction oversight ensure proper installation of new trees and landscape architectural elements in the public realm. 

The two-for-one special: Your investment through the Levy to Move Seattle means that we plant two trees for every one we have to remove for safety or tree health reasons. We have planted 1,893 trees over the course of the Levy – 387 in 2020!  

Canopy cover is an important tool for us to understand where and how many trees there are in Seattle. The City currently has 28 percent canopy cover, and our goal is to reach 30 percent canopy cover by 2037. The Urban Forest Stewardship Plan guides the City’s progress towards our canopy cover goal. The Office of Sustainability and Environment oversees implementation of the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, coordinates the Urban Forest Inter-departmental team, and staffs the Urban Forestry Commission.  

Trees along Rainier Ave S. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.  

Thinking about planting a tree or two? We are too. Our new Tree Selection Guidance Tool makes it easier to find the right tree for your space, which helps ensure the tree has a long and healthy life. 

The tool can be accessed here.

“The staff at SDOT Urban Forestry are always happy to ‘talk trees’ with anyone interested in putting a tree into their planting strip.  We hope this will make it easier for people to find trees that will beautify their neighborhoods and that they will enjoy.  We want street trees to be good neighbors, so all residents of Seattle can share in the many benefits that trees provide.” 

Nolan Rundquist, City Arborist

Our Urban Forestry team has a goal to maximize the “canopy potential” of planting sites, as trees in the public right-of-way make an important contribution to our canopy cover goals. Our new Tree Selection Guidance web tool helps you – and us! – determine the right trees to plant in your area so that the tree remains as healthy as possible and fits the needs of the space. This is how we maximize the canopy potential of planting sites! 

“We want to make this valuable information available and engaging, so we developed a simple, interactive web app that can be continually updated with new data and features. We welcome any feedback on how to make this tool better or more useful.” 

Steve Barham, SDOT Data Scientist

Using the Tree Selection Guidance Tool, you can browse and filter through about 150 tree species – and counting! You can find information on aesthetic features like fall leaf or flower color, disease and insect issues to be aware of, and other factors that affect how well the tree will thrive in its environment. Importantly, you can also select how much space you have in your planting strip or area and if there are wires overhead, which will help you determine which trees would fit your space best.  

In the tool, you can click on a feature to select or deselect a preference. You can then download a list of your final selections so you can access it easily when shopping for trees. More information about tree selection and siting is available on our Tree Selection page and in our Street Tree Manual.  If the comments about the tree include “Great Plant Pick” you can find additional information on the Great Plant Pick Website

This tool will replace our “Recommended Tree List,” in a format that will allow us to easily update our assessments of tree types. For example, we would make updates should new invasive pests or diseases become a threat to certain tree species.  

We all want our trees to have long, healthy lives. Ultimately, this will help us all plant the right tree in the right place so our urban landscape is vibrant and mutually beneficial!  

For more information: