Cambridge Street Trees

Urban Forestry

Public Works

Tree pruning, planting and maintenance requests can be made here

If you see a City tree that is hazardous or has experienced storm damage and needs immediate attention, please call 617-349-4800.

Cambridge with trees and buildings 

A healthy forest is a vital part of a healthy city. The City of Cambridge is committed to maintaining a healthy urban forest, which includes trees on streets, in parks, on private property and campuses. These trees provide essential shade, clean the air and support a living ecosystem, benefitting water quality  and providing food and habitat for mammals, birds, and insects.

The Urban Forestry team is responsible for planting, watering and maintaining all trees on City property. The City has been awarded a Tree City USA award from the National Arbor Day Foundationfor 18 consecutive years.   

We all share a responsibility to care for our urban forest.

Want to help? Become a Cambridge Urban Forest Friend! Give a new tree a successful start! Sign up to water, mulch and weed a new public tree. 

Cartoon people caring for trees

Our Urban Canopy:

Through the work done as part of the Urban Forest Master Plan, the City has developed the Healthy City Healthy Forest initiative to help reshape its relationship with Cambridge's urban forest and to provide opportunities for the community to play a key role in keeping the urban forest healthy and strong. The values of this plans include:

  • Equity- ensuring an urban canopy that provides benefits to all of its citizens.
  • Resiliency- developing a robust urban forest that benefits human healthy and well being.
  • Shared Responsibility- engaging citizens that can help contribute to the care of the urban forest.

Tree Maintenance:

  • Pruning: the Forestry Division regularly prunes and maintains the City's 19,000+ public trees. The City currently prunes on a 6-year cycle. Cycle pruning is coordinated through the Street Tree Pruning Contract with a certified private tree care company. Residents and homeowners are not allowed to do tree work on a city-owned tree. If you feel a City tree requires maintenance or pruning, please submit a request
  • Emergency Response: Forestry crews are always on-hand to respond to emergencies related to storm damage. Locations are prioritized based on level of severity. If you see a City tree that is hazardous or has experienced storm damage and needs immediate attention, please call Public Works at 617-349-4800. 
  • Tree Removal: Public trees are protected by Massachusetts State Law Chapter 87. Dead, dying or diseased trees that pose a hazard to the public will only be removed after being evaluated by the City Arborist. Healthy public trees that are proposed for removal require an advertised public hearing. 
  • Pest Management: Forestry crews are always on the lookout for species that may harm City trees. The City Arborist works closely with neighboring cities to determine or anticipate the presence of Asian Longhorn Beetles and Emerald Ash Borer. Whenever possible, trees are treated in advance to increase their chance of survival. 
  • Tree Activity Map: for information about activities associate with public trees, such as watering, pruning, measurements and more. 

Tree Planting Programs:

The City plants trees in the spring and fall. Proposed tree planting locations for the upcoming planting season can be viewed on the Planting Map below. Look out for tree planting stickers on the sidewalk that also identify proposed locations. If you would like to request a new or replacement tree in a location that is not on the Planting Map, please submit a tree planting request.

Tree planting requests are inspected by Forestry staff. Not all sites are suitable for a new or replacement tree. Newly planted trees must meet standards for tree well size, ADA sidewalk clearance, and minimum distances from underground utilities.

Interested in learning about the types of trees that are planted in Cambridge? Click here. 

You can also view a full inventory of the City's tree using the GIS Cambridge Tree Walk. On mobile, it will pick up your location and identify the trees around you.  

Scheduled 2021 Planting Locations

As part of the 2021 Tree Planting, The City has scheduled 950 trees to be planted (475 in the Spring and 475 in the Fall). Locations and species are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.

Scheduled Tree Removals

For a map showing all trees on public property that have either been recently removed or will be scheduled to be removed, please click here

Private Trees- The City Arborist and Forestry staff cannot offer services for trees on private property. If you have questions or concerns about a private property tree, contact a certified arborist: https://massarbor.org/directory.php.  Before you begin planting, be sure to have your site checked for the location of all underground utilities, as required by law. Contact Dig Safe at 1-888-DIG-SAFE, or log on to www.digsafe.com

As part of the Tree Protection Ordinance passed by the City Council, removal of a "significant" tree on private property is restricted. A permit may be obtained if there are emergency or special circumstances that require the removal. Please visit Cambridgema.gov/TreeProtection for information regarding this ordinance. 

 

Tips and FAQs

How can I find an arborist?

You can find an certified arborist at https://massarbor.org/directory.php

How long does it take to resolve a planting or pruning request?

Planting takes place in the Spring and Fall, so depending on when the request came in, it could take between 6 and 12 months. 

If a street tree is posing a hazard, a pruning request will be addressed immediately. Other pruning requests can take about 3 months to resolve. 

What do I do when the roots of the tree in front of my property are causing the sidewalk to heave?

You should report the issue as a "Sidewalk Defect" at Cambridgema.gov/311 or by calling the Street and Sidewalk division at 617-349-6950.  The Forestry Division works with the Street & Sidewalk Division in resolving sidewalk issues that involve trees.

What volunteer opportunities are available in the Urban Forestry Division?

The most important volunteer opportunity is to Adopt-a-Tree! Crews simply cannot get to every tree enough in the warmer months to water, mulch and weed all of the new and young trees in the City. We need the public's help in making sure these trees get a good start! 

If you are part of a group or organization looking for a one-day volunteer opportunity, please contact Cambridgetrees@cambridgema.gov with your request and we can work to assign you a project. 

Page was posted on 11/14/2019 2:03 PM
Page was last modified on 6/21/2021 12:35 PM
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