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Planting Permit - Frequently Asked Questions

Tree Planting
This page provides resources and some permit processing information for planting trees no development is occurring.
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When Is a Planting Permit Required?

  • Street TreesA permit is required to plant any tree in the City right-of-way, which is typically between the curb and sidewalk. 
  • Private Trees: No permit is required for planting a tree on private property.
    • However we recommend you consider contacting the Oregon Utility Notification Center, they can help you identify if a tree placement will pose any issues with underground utilities ( water lines, gas, sewage, etc. ).
    • This is a free service. 

If you are removing a tree and then planting, please see Removal and Replanting Permits

Qualifying for a Permit

  1. In order to qualify for a planting permit, you must agree to abide by the Street Tree Planting Standards. Proper planting and establishment are key factors in maximizing long-term tree survival as well as the benefits of trees.
  2. Species selected for planting should be chosen from the Approved Street Tree Planting Lists.
  3. Trees acquired for planting must meet the following size requirements:
    • Broadleaf tree size requirements (young tree caliper is the diameter of the trunk measured at 6” above the tree’s natural ground line for trees less than 4”, or at 12” for trees greater than 4”):
    • Development TypeStreet Tree Minimum Caliper Size
      One and two family residential1.5"
      Multi-dwelling residential2.0"
      All others2.5
    • Conifer trees must be a minimum of 5 feet in height at time of planting.

If altering the sidewalk: a sidewalk permit is required from the Bureau of Transportation. Email or call 503-823-7002 (press option #3).

Timeline and Process

For current information on processing times, please refer to Alert articles or contact Urban Forestry via the Tree Hotline 503-823-TREE (8733) or email  Incomplete applications will delay the process. 

After the completed application has been received:

  1. An Urban Forestry Tree Inspector will visit the tree planting site to identify site conditions and mark the curb with paint for the appropriate placement of trees.
  2. After the site visit, the Tree Inspector will contact the applicant with an approved list of tree species for planting, based upon the size of the planting strip and presence or absence of overhead high-voltage power lines.
  3. The applicant must then communicate the species selection from the list to the Tree Inspector, and the Tree Inspector will then send the applicant the planting permit.

It is recommended that you plant trees between October 1 through April 30, as planting trees during the cool, wet months helps ensure tree establishment and survival.

Helpful Resources

How to Plant ProperlyInformation on planting season, sizing requirements, and other resources. 
Tree Planting Information on planting programs, planting lists, the tree planting performance report, free tree programs, maps, and other community-related activities. 
Tips for Hiring an ArboristHiring an arborist to do tree work can be intimidating. Trees are a slow-growing resource and tree work can be expensive. To protect yourself and your trees, make sure to hire a professional arborist.
List of Local NurseriesWhere can I buy trees of the required size? Visit our list of nurseries for business that sell trees that meet the caliper size requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I plant a tree that isn’t on the Approved Street Tree Planting List?

Your assigned Urban Forestry Tree Inspector will help you select a tree that both maximizes the available growing space and that is unlikely to cause damage to the sidewalk or interfere with sight lines and utilities. If your tree selection meets these "Right Tree, Right Place" criteria the Tree Inspector may approve a different species for planting.

Why can't I plant a street tree in a site less than three feet wide?

A healthy street tree needs enough soil and space to thrive. Soil provides the necessary water, oxygen, and nutrients to sustain the tree. Space above and below is needed to accommodate a tree’s biological imperative: to grow! In too narrow a space, a tree will inevitably come into conflict with sidewalks, roads, and stop signs. Decades of urban forestry research and practice have found that trees planted in sites that are too small are more likely to die, damage infrastructure, and increase public safety hazards. In accordance with national practice, Portland’s planting standards require that right-of-way sites must be at least three feet wide to accommodate a tree. If your right-of-way planting site is too small to grow a tree, look to your yard for an alternative site. Front yard trees also shade sidewalks and capture stormwater, plus with access to more soil and space they will support healthier trees that require less care and maintenance.

Where can I get help planting?

Planting a 1.5 to 2.0-inch caliper tree can be done by the property owner, but larger trees will require assistance due to the weight of the tree and root ball. See this list of City-sponsored planting programs, or see the Local Tree Care Providers list for contractors.

When is the best time to plant trees?

Plant trees in the wet months between October 1 and April 30. For more details on planting, watering, and caring for your young tree visit the Planting and Care section, as well as Tree Care and Resources

Can I donate a tree to Portland Parks & Recreation?

In order to ensure the quality and health of our trees, we do not accept trees as donations

Apply for a Planting Permit

Questions? Call Urban Forestry at 503-823-TREE (8733) or email

Read the Tree Code, Title 11