Cambridge Street Trees

Urban Forestry

Public Works

About Cambridge Urban Forestry

The City of Cambridge is committed to maintaining a healthy urban forest and has been awarded a Tree City USA award from the National Arbor Day Foundation for 18 consecutive years. The City's extension education program and the improvement of planting and management practices have earned them a Growth Award for the past three years. 

Want to help us maintain our Urban Forest? Adopt-a-Tree! Give a new tree a successful start! Sign up to water, mulch and weed a new public tree. 

Our Urban Canopy:

Protection and development of the urban canopy is a priority for the City and has led to the development of the Urban Forest Management Plan and Current State of the Forest Report and the Urban Forest Master Plan (currently in development). These guidelines offer goals, objectives, targets and best practices when it comes to the City's 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, contact the Forestry Division at 617.349.4885 or email: cambridgetree@cambridgema.gov
  • 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 public tree that has experienced storm damage 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 Planting Programs:

  • Replace Existing Trees: You can request a replacement tree if one was removed from an existing well in front of your property. 
  • Request a New Tree Planting: If there is no tree well on the sidewalk near your property, you can request to have one installed. Not all requests can be honored, but the City arborist will come out and check to see if it's a location suitable for planting.
  • Back of Sidewalk Program: If there is no space for a tree well on your sidewalk, you can request a tree to be planted on your private property, up to 20 feet off the public way. Soil conditions at the back of sidewalk are generally more suitable for plant growth, making it likely a tree will survive and thrive and contribute to the urban canopy. 

Requests can also be submitted by selecting "Tree Planting Request" at Cambridgema.gov/311, call the Urban Forestry Division at 617-349-4885.

Scheduled 2019 Planting Locations

As part of the 2019 Tree Planting, The City has scheduled 442 trees to be planted in the following locations. Locations and species are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. For a complete list of species being planted, please click here

Scheduled 2019 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 last modified on 10/24/2019 4:32 PM
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