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Caring For Your New Street Tree

two people tend to a young street tree

Proper establishment of your street tree is critical to the future health and maintenance requirements of your tree.  See below for the essentials for a healthy establishment period, which will result in a long and happy life for your tree. A good investment of time now will save you maintenance dollars in the future.


Here are the basics

  • Watering - Water must saturate slowly into the soil with at least 15 gallons per tree at least once per week for three years after planting. Two additional years of watering is recommended during drought conditions.
  • Staking (Tree Supports) - Adjust and replace stakes and ties as needed.  Stakes should support the tree upright, allowing some movement in the wind, but not so much that the tree grows into a lean.  Be sure the ties are not too tight, and as the tree grows the ties do not begin to “girdle” the tree or cut into the trunk or branches.
  • Weeding - Keep the tree basins free of weeds to avoid competition for water and nutrients. Don’t plant flowers in the tree basin until trees are fully established (three to five years after planting). 
  • Pruning - Establishing good structure when the tree is young will greatly reduce future maintenance needs.  Prune to remove dead or dying branches and encourage the development of a strong main tree trunk by pruning and removing dead, dying or crossing branches.  Remember that the City guidelines require 14-feet clearance over the curb, and 8 feet of clearance over the sidewalk.  Begin training your tree young in order to achieve these clearances by maturity.
  • NOTE - it doesn't stop there. If the trees die within the first year after planting, it must be replaced within six months.  A tree removal permit is required to remove any street tree. Fines can be imposed for removing a street tree without a permit.


Tree Maintenance Guidedownload_pdf


For additional information contact us at:

San Francisco Public Works
Urban Forestry
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor (Map)
San Francisco, Ca  94103
(415) 554-6700