Plan Now, Plant in the Fall

Spring has arrived. Trees are blooming, leaves are unfurling, and you may be dreaming of planting a new tree. While a good time to dream, spring is not the best time to plant a tree in Seattle. Those new leaves unfurling signal that new roots are also growing. If you plant a tree in the spring, you can damage those new roots and make the tree vulnerable to our warm, dry summers. This can lead to drought stress and even death for your new tree. Planting in the fall means your tree will benefit from fall and winter rains and have time to establish its root system before the summer dry season begins.

Instead, spring is the time for planning. It is important to start by planning where a new tree will be planted in your yard or in front of your home. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Choose a Tree: Select a tree that fits the space you have available. You can learn about tree selection for your yard or along your street using this tree selection guidance tool developed by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Another great resource is our Right Tree, Right Place prerecorded webinar.
  • Replace a Tree: If you need to replace a tree in your yard, contact an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist to get an assessment and quote for removal. Do you have a street tree in the planting strip that is declining or dead? SDOT’s Urban Forestry team can help you with trees in planting strips along the street, including removal permits if necessary.
  • Prepare your yard: Are there invasive plants in your yard that might harm a young tree? Spend the spring preparing a healthy planting area.
  • Receive a free tree: Consider applying for a free tree through our Trees for Neighborhoods program. Sign up for email notifications now and in June you will receive a list of available trees to apply for in July. Trees will be distributed in October, right in time for fall planting season.