Learning Landscapes - Planting Trees With Schools

A volunteer kneels down to help three kindergartners dig soil out of a tree planting hole.
Planting trees at schools provides an active learning opportunity for youth of all ages!
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What is Learning Landscapes?

Urban Forestry’s Learning Landscapes program empowers students of all ages to plant trees at their school, supported by a professional urban forestry team. Students connect to their school and community by working together to improve and green their school grounds during a fun, outdoor educational experience. As trees grow, they provide environmental and aesthetic benefits to the school for decades. Trees also serve as a living, learning landscape for educators to teach science, math, and more.

Learning Landscapes 2012

Learning Landscapes trees come with a three-year commitment from Urban Forestry.

Urban Forestry commits to:

  • Work with the school to create a planting plan based on school needs
  • Provide all trees and supplies
  • Organize volunteers and work with the students to properly plant the trees
  • Provide three years of establishment maintenance for every tree planted, including watering, mulching, and weeding
  • Provide a classroom component on trees ahead of the planting day

The school commits to:

  • Secure all permissions to plant trees
  • Complete a site visit with an Urban Forestry arborist to create a planting plan
  • Commit to planting a minimum of 12 trees
Learning Landscapes provide an active learning opportunity for youth of all ages!

Why plant trees at schools?

Providing green, treed areas for kids to learn and play has proven physical and mental health benefits for students. Trees bring cleaner air for students, cooler playgrounds, shade from harmful UV rays, and better mental focus. Planting trees also creates a sense of place, connecting students to their school and community. On top of the important services trees provide students, schools often have large spaces with plenty of room for trees to grow.  

For over 20 years, Urban Forestry has worked with schools to successfully plant and establish thousands of trees. Learn more about UF’s commitment to working with youth at schools in Portland’s citywide tree planting strategy, “Growing A More Equitable Forest.”

What types of trees are planted?

Large-form, evergreen, and native trees! Focusing on trees with one or more of these characteristics creates positive impacts on our local environment and increased health benefits for students. Urban Forestry arborists will design a planting with trees that thrive in the space. By choosing the right trees in the right place, trees will be healthier, require less maintenance, and live longer. At the time of planting, trees will be 5’-10’ tall, providing an immediate visual impact to the space.

What does the program cost?

There is no cost to schools to participate! The Learning Landscapes program is funded by Portland’s Tree Planting Preservation Fund. This fund uses mitigation fees to achieve a more equitable distribution of trees throughout the city.

How do I apply?

Read the mutual expectations information and complete the application here.

  • Schools must be located inside Portland city limits to be eligible.
  • Depending on the number of applications received, Urban Forestry may not be able to plant at every school that applies. Priority is given to schools that are located in neighborhoods with the greatest need. This is in accordance with Portland’s Tree Planting Strategy. If we have the capacity to plant in other neighborhoods, we will, so don’t hesitate to apply!

To learn more about creating a Learning Landscape at your school, please contact Allison O'Sullivan at Allison.OSullivan@portlandorego… or at 971-282-2549.

One elementary student holds an earthworm, while two other students stand close to take a look. All three are smiling.

About Portland Parks & Recreation UrbanForestry

The mission of PP&R’s Urban Forestry (UF) division is to manage and care for Portland's tree infrastructure in the City for current and future generations. Portland’s urban forest consists of 220,000 street trees, 1.2 million park trees, and innumerable private property trees. The Urban Forestry division is involved in managing or regulating these trees. UF created and implements the City of Portland's Urban Forest Management Plan, fosters community tree awareness and stewardship, develops tree policies and programs, monitors and assesses Portland’s urban forest, and issues permits for planting, pruning, and removal of public and some private trees. During extreme weather at all times of the year, UF crews respond to tree emergencies to keep you safe and the City moving.

For more information on Urban Forestry at portland.gov/trees.