FOT FAQs

Family Planting by Shasta Lin
photo: Shasta Lin

Everyone knows that good things grow on trees. But here are some things you might not know, including general, prior to planting, planting day, and post planting questions.

General

If I don’t live in Portland, Eugene or Springfield, Oregon or Vancouver Washington, can I still participate in your neighborhood planting program and reserve a tree from Friends of Trees?

Friends of Trees (FOT) provides trees to property owners in four cities in Oregon and Washington. We only plant in neighborhoods that have an FOT volunteer neighborhood coordinator. If you would like to organize a planting in your neighborhood, please contact us.

Does making an account require me to reserve a tree?

No. Making an account on our web site just gives you the option to reserve trees if you decide that's what you want to do. If you are interested in street trees, it also automatically arranges a city tree inspection of your planting strip to determine how much space you have for trees. This inspection ensures that we give you the appropriate tree list from which to choose.

Why do I need to make an account to look at trees?

Our costs and our planting dates are determined by the neighborhood a person lives in. When you enter your address, we can tell you if we are planting in your neighborhood and, if so, what the price will be. Also, not all trees fit in all places. The cities of Portland, Eugene, Springfield and Vancouver have rules about what you can plant between the sidewalk and the street based on the amount of space there. Since 80 percent of our program participants plant street trees, we ask everyone to set up an account to ensure that we have all the information we need for the city where they live. The city tells us what species of trees they will allow between the sidewalk and street in front of a house. Sound complicated?  It is, and that’s why we do it all for you!

Can I donate trees to FOT?

No. FOT buys one-inch to two-inch caliper trees that are eight to 14 feet tall from local wholesale nurseries to ensure top quality for our customers. We recommend donating your trees to local neighborhood associations or posting them on Craigslist.

Does FOT provide fruit trees?

FOT supports the planting of fruit trees in the appropriate spaces, such as yards and planting strips that are six feet or larger and have overhead primary power lines. We offer a wide variety, including apple, cherry, pear, fig, and persimmon.

Will FOT help me remove a tree?

FOT can't help you with a tree removal, but you can replant with FOT if the city allows it. If you want to remove trees in your yard, check with the city to see if there are laws affecting your tree.

To remove a street tree, you need a permit. Contact your city's urban forestry department directly for a removal inspection: 503-823-8733 in Portland, 541-682-4800 in Eugene or 360-487-8308 in Vancouver. Please tell them (and write on the application) that you are working with Friends of Trees. It's a good idea to request that the city mark "all approved locations."

Sign up online with FOT and check the box on the sign-up form next to Street Tree Removal and Replant. When the city responds, contact FOT at 503-595-0212, and we will help you purchase trees (we will need information from the city paperwork.)

All of the trees that FOT offers are approved by the city for replanting. When you log onto our system, we only show you trees approved for your house. Our list does not match the cities’ recommended tree lists, but our trees are approved annually by each city.  If you are in the City of Portland, you will need an amended permit if you change your tree choice.

I have a tree that looks sick. Can someone from FOT come look at it?

We don't conduct health check-ups for trees unless they were planted through FOT, and then only during the first summer after they were planted. If you have a tree in need of an assessment or in need of care, we provide a list of Arborist Members and their contact information under the "resources" tab on our home page.

Which trees won't buckle my sidewalk?

FOT works very hard to ensure that we plant the correct size trees in the correct size planting strips. We require city inspections before we sell street trees so we don’t plant trees that are too large for a given space. 

However, we cannot guarantee that the trees we offer will never buckle sidewalks, as each tree is unique and situations vary. We do offer optional root barriers for those who want extra assurance that their new trees won't damage the sidewalk as they grow. For information, see our list of additional services at the bottom of the online order form.

Prior to Planting

Can Friends of Trees drop off my tree at my house before the scheduled planting in my neighborhood?

Friends of Trees (FOT) is not a landscaping or nursery business. We organize neighborhood tree plantings based on a community development model. We hope that all of our customers will volunteer with us on planting day or help in some way.

What if I won't be home on planting day?

Your tree will be planted by a crew of volunteers, homeowners, and a trained FOT crew leader. If you reserved a yard tree and won't be home on planting day, be sure to mark clearly where you would like your tree planted. We encourage you to volunteer for a role that doesn’t require you to be there on planting day, such as summer inspector.

I’m having trouble deciding where to plant my yard tree. Can FOT staff come to my house and help me?

Although we can’t come to your house to help, we suggest these guidelines.

I am reserving street trees, but I don’t like the locations in my planting strip where the city indicated my new trees should be planted. Can I adjust the locations?

No. The inspector identified those locations based on many factors, including distance from underground utilities, overhead lights, intersections, and street signs. Therefore, it is important that your trees be planted in the locations the city indicated. If you have concerns about the city's placement requirements, please call to speak with a city inspector: 503-823-2255 in Portland, 541-682-4800 in Eugene or 360-487-8308 in Vancouver. Occasionally the city can reassess the situation and move the placement marks.

The city marked locations for two street trees though I only want one. Can I plant it in between the marks?

No. The marks are placed to provide the maximum number of trees on the street. You can only plant your tree at one of the marked locations. That leaves another location where a future owner of your home can plant a tree.

I would like a small tree for my yard, but I only see large trees and fruit trees on the yard tree list.

FOT encourages planting large, native trees in yards because they increase the overall tree canopy cover in the city, soak up more stormwater, provide more habitat for wildlife, and lower energy costs by casting more shade. We offer fruit trees because they also provide local food to eat. Our yard tree list maximizes these benefits. We do offer some medium size trees for tighter spaces in yards.

Portland residents interested in flowering yard trees can buy from a local nursery and receive a tree-bate from the city.

May I reserve a tree from the street tree list for my yard?

The street trees are reserved for planting strips because they are appropriate for smaller spaces. We want to make sure they are available for those strips.

My neighbors and I want to plant the same kinds of trees. Can we do that?

We understand that many neighbors want a cohesive look to their streets and neighborhoods. However, FOT strongly recommends diversity to protect against potentially catastrophic disease or pest issues. But we encourage you to talk to your neighbors about their tree choices.

I'm getting a yard tree. How will the hole digger know where to dig?

Homeowners should mark the spot where they would like their yard tree planted using a flag or some other signage one week in advance of their neighborhood planting date. The hole digging crews will only dig in marked locations.  In Portland and Vancouver, holes are dug up to one week in advance.  In Eugene and Springfield, they are dug on planting day.

Planting Day

Will I be on the crew that is planting at my house or in my neighborhood?

Homeowners receiving trees are placed on the crew going to their house and their closest neighbors' homes. If you are not receiving a tree, you may simply align yourself with whichever crew will be planting in your neighborhood.

How do we all get to each other’s houses?

We recommend carpooling and caravanning to your planting location. If the staging site where the planting event begins is close to your house, you may choose to walk or bike to the houses that are receiving trees.

Is it all right if I only plant the tree at my house?

We would prefer that you come to the staging site and join a planting team. We have found that neighbors often meet for the first time at our plantings, which creates a wonderful community event. We also offer breakfast and lunch at the staging site!

Post Planting

What if the hole digger hits my irrigation? Will Friends of Trees repair it?

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to identify the location of their irrigation pipes prior to the tree planting. Utility locates are prepared for gas and communication lines prior to the planting, but Friends of Trees (FOT) isn't responsible for locating irrigation lines. We can, however, provide you with some resources for how to move or fix an irrigation line.

If my tree dies, will FOT replace it?

If the tree dies in its first growing season for reasons other than homeowner neglect or damage, FOT will refund your contribution or replace the tree at no cost to you. If the tree was neglected (most often by not being watered during the summer) or damaged (most often by weed whackers, cars, or vandalism) FOT will not provide a refund or replacement tree.

FOT will determine whether or not we can replace a tree based on data gathered by our summer inspector volunteers and a check-up visit by an FOT staff member.

What do I need to do to maintain my tree for the first three years after planting?

The two most important ways to maintain your tree are by watering weekly in the summer and keeping lawnmowers and weed whackers away from the bark. All of the living tissue of a young tree is at the surface, so bark damage can quickly kill a young tree.

How does FOT cover the cost of providing trees?

FOT uses funding from foundations, members, donors, and government contracts to lower the cost of tree planting for residents of Portland, Eugene, Springfield, Salem and Vancouver. We incur the same costs as a regular landscape contractor (insurance, vehicles, salaries, wholesale tree costs, mortgage, etc.), but we receive funding to cover the costs from sources in addition to contributions received from the recipients of the trees.

We feel that our city trees provide benefits to more than just the individual property owner. If you also feel this way, please consider a tax-deductible donation to Friends of Trees.