Street Trees, TREE PLANTING, AND PRUNING INFORMATION
Purpose of Street Trees
Street trees help to enhance the appearance of the city’s streetscapes, provide ecosystem services (such as Stormwater interception and air quality improvements), buffer and screen land uses from the public street and improve property values.
The city produces a list of approved street trees in the Vegetation Management Standards (VMS) manual (PDF). A broad diversity of street tree species is a main goal of the city’s street tree program. The city adheres to the “10/20/30” rule:
- No single species or cultivar shall make up more than 10 percent of the total City street tree population
- No more than 20 percent of the total City street tree population shall be composed of one genus
- No more than 30 percent of any one family
A broad diversity of street trees helps to protect the street tree population from large losses due to diseases like Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer, which can wipe out entire species leaving streets bare of any trees.
The city requires and regulates street trees through the city’s street trees ordinance (PMC 11.28); most developments are required to provide street trees, which are typically planted between the curb and sidewalk in the public right of way. In some cases (where planting space in the public right-of-way is limited or does not exist) street trees are placed at the edge of the right-of-way line behind the sidewalk with a small notch in the sidewalk denoting that the tree is a public street tree.
In other limited cases, street trees are placed entirely on private property behind the sidewalk, typically as a part of a required landscape yard. Most street trees are required to be maintained, pruned and removed (when warranted) by the abutting property owner.
The City of Puyallup maintains a limited number of trees located in the public right-of-way. Download a map of street trees (PDF) currently maintained by the Parks Maintenance Division and/or Washington Conservation Corps work crews.
Street Trees FAQs
Street Tree Planting Information
Planting trees in the city's public right-of-way adjacent to your property will beautify your neighborhood, add to Puyallup's tree-lined character, intercept storm water, and improve your property value. The public tree right-of-way is typically located between the sidewalk and curb; a free permit is required to plant trees in this area.
Street Tree Permitting
If you wish to plant the tree(s) yourself, or hire a local landscape professional to do so, you must first obtain a street tree right-of-way permit to ensure compliance with city ordinance regarding tree species and specific planting locations.
The cost of the tree, installation, and maintenance is your expense. You are required, by state law, to call 811 a minimum of three (3) days (or 72 hours) in advance of digging to locate all underground utilities near the tree planting. All trees shall be placed a minimum of 5' from underground lines and utilities.
Long Term Care
By agreeing to have a tree(s) planted on the public right-of-way adjacent to your property, you are also agreeing to provide the necessary day to day and long-term care of the tree. Such care includes regular watering, pest control, mulching and pruning by a tree service who employs certified arborist(s) to perform such work. Tree-lined streets contribute to your property and to the quality of life in Puyallup in many positive ways. Your assistance in planting and maintaining city-owned trees is very much appreciated! If you have any questions or need further assistance, contact our office at 253-864-4165.
Street Tree Planting Links
Street Tree - Pruning Information
Pruning is the most important tree maintenance activity. It reduces crisis management situations and improves the overall health, safety and beauty of Puyallup's community forest. Pruning should be performed on a regular interval to improve tree form, reduce weak branch growth/architecture and to remove dead or damaged branches. The following is information on tree pruning activities in the city and responsibilities.
In 2015, the City partnered with Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) for services related to street tree pruning. WCC work crews work within the city approximately three (3) months per year on various tree related activities. Most pruning to be completed by WCC will be to reduce issues related to roadway or sidewalk clearance or sight-distance issues.
Street Tree Topping Is Prohibited
Tree topping is the indiscriminate removal of upper tree branches, often performed to reduce the size of a tree. A property owner may feel that a tree has become too large for his or her property, or that tall trees may pose an unacceptable risk. Topping, however, is not a viable method of height reduction and certainly does not reduce future risk. In fact, topping will increase risk in the long term; reducing the life span of the tree and forming tree branches which are weakly formed to the tree, making them prone to failure. Tree topping any street tree is prohibited by Puyallup Code 11.28.040.
Who Maintains Other Street Trees & Does Pruning Work Require a Permit?
Unless shown on the map of a city-maintained street trees (PDF), maintenance of street trees (and all other vegetation) located in the public right-of-way is the responsibility of the abutting property owner, with proper permitting. The property owner is required to maintain street and sidewalk clearance and maintain trees for sight distance near driveways and intersections.
Branches must be maintained for clearance at 14 feet over roads and 7 feet over sidewalks. If the Street Department determines inadequate clearance is available for street sweeper maintenance, you may be contacted to complete some minor pruning in advance of sweeping in your neighborhood. A right-of-way street tree permit shall be obtained by property owners seeking to prune branches larger than 2 inches in diameter or to remove a street tree in the right-of-way. All other minor pruning and other maintenance work to trees in the right-of-way are exempt form permitting.
All street tree pruning shall conform to all accepted arboricultural standards (ANSI A300); tree topping is prohibited. The City's Planning Department shall review and approve all street tree maintenance, removal and planting permit requests in accordance with city standards.
Removal of Street Trees
Removal of a street tree (a tree located between the curb and the sidewalk) requires a right-of-way permit - however, some exemptions and exceptions apply. See the flow chart (PDF) for more information. If the street tree is over 6 inches in diameter (measured at 4.5 feet above grade) or if any portion of the tree is within 15 feet of an energized power line, a permit is required. Removal of any live street tree, regardless of size, requires approval from the city.
If a street tree is removed and sufficient space exists to replace a tree (sufficient space being defined as an area between the curb and sidewalk 4 feet or greater) one must be planted in exchange for each tree removed. A street tree right-of-way permit is required to ensure the tree species used to replant is on the city's approved list.