We plant yard trees, too!

Get to Know our private property plantings

Street trees planted by Friends of Trees are pretty recognizable—some may say iconic, even. Street trees are the trees planted near the street, identifiable by the Friends of Trees tree tag with information about the species and tree care. But street trees are only part of the picture.

Yes, we’re also restoring natural areas through planting native trees and shrubs, but there’s another aspect to our tree planting that also provides oxygen, fights climate change, and brings people together: it’s planting trees on private property.

Friends of Trees increasingly plants more trees on private property, which is any planting site that is not owned by a municipality or is not a public right-away (such as the planting strip). These locations range in size and flavor, including a large site like the Bybee Lakes Hope Center described in the story above, a private backyard (the most common), the grounds of an apartment complex, at a business … anywhere a tree can fit and live (remember, right tree, right place!).

In a typical season we plant 1,000 yard or other private property trees, and it’s a part of our planting program we’re actively growing. In many ways, planting trees on private property allows for more options and flexibility, especially in yards where there is more choice in tree type because there is often room for larger trees. Neighborhood Trees Program Manger Erica Timm explains,

“I always wanted an Oregon white oak at my home, but I couldn’t plant one as a street tree because they are just too big for my planting strip, so I planted one in my backyard. And because there’s more room in my backyard I was able to plant more native trees and now, combined with my neighbor’s trees, we have a little grove of native trees right outside our back doors. All these trees provide habitat, they capture stormwater, trap pollutants … it’s all the benefits of street trees multiplied many times over since there is space for so many more trees.”

Friends of Trees has been very successful in growing our urban canopy through planting street trees, and offering yard trees is a natural continuation of greening our neighborhoods. We’ll plant street trees as much as we can, but the public right-of-way, such as the planting strip, is a busy space, with sidewalks, utilities (both above-ground and below), etc., and there is more competition for space, so more yard trees is definitely part of our future.

Just like planting street trees, when a tree recipient is interested in a yard or other private property tree we spend a lot of time helping select the right tree for the right place, hole digging, utility locates (know before you dig), and we provide tree care information such as watering reminders. So before you head out to your local home improvement store for your backyard tree, check with Friends of Trees, because in addition to planting a tree, you’ll get expert help and advice, and you’ll grow some community, too.

Photo: A happy yard tree recipient in NE Portland, March 2021.