Urban and Community Forestry

Contact Information
Ian Gray
Urban Forestry and Natural Resources Manager
1055 South Grady Way
Renton WA 98057

Rooted in Renton logo

The Urban Forestry Program

The Urban Forestry Program maintains the city's urban forest and is a great resource for Renton residents.

Public and private trees comprise Renton's urban forest, adding to the quality of life. In Renton, public trees include those found along street right of ways, in parks, natural areas, and at other city-owned properties.

  • Public trees - managed by the Urban Forestry Program

  • Private property trees - regulated to an extent by the city to prevent unnecessary damage or removal.

Historical Tree Tour of Downtown Renton

The Urban Forestry Division has put together a walking tour of historical trees in downtown Renton. The tour takes about 90 minutes and includes 14 sites.

The story map provides details about the tree and the people, places, and activities from the past century at each location. In addition, you can view historical photos.

Urban Forest Management Plan

The division recently completed, and the city council adopted, the 2022-2032 Urban Forest Management Plan. The plan aims to ensure the safety, well-being, and economic future of Renton’s citizens and preserve the sustainability of the urban forest. The plan proposes steps to protect trees and the health of Renton’s citizens through urban forestry services.

The tree ordinances changed on Aug. 12, 2022. Make sure you understand the permitting requirements for tree removals. Landmark-sized trees are now 24 inches in diameter (DBH) or larger as measured at 4.5 feet from the ground. See updated regulations in the resources section below.

Report Issues

  • Report a tree issue via Renton Responds (including suspected Emerald Ash Borer attacks)


Benefits of Trees

Trees provide communities with environmental, social, and economic benefits referred as "ecosystem services." Most tree benefits have been thoroughly researched and assigned an actual dollar value.

  • Shade from trees reduces incidence of skin cancer
  • Deterrent to climate change and sequester carbon dioxide
  • Filter pollutants and produce oxygen
  • Reduces the heat island effect
  • Control storm water, flooding and soil erosion
  • Decrease heating and cooling costs.
  • Increase real estate values
  •  Attract shoppers, increase business activity and profits by at least 12%
  • Provide and improve wildlife habitat
  • Recharge groundwater and improve water quality
  • Create visual barriers
  • Reduce the incidence of crime
  • Improve mental and physical health
  • Enhance community spirit
  • Lower incidence of neonatal problems

Why Tree Topping is Harmful

There are plenty of good science-based reasons that topping trees is terrible for tree health.

It has been discredited as a pruning practice for decades, a fact the arboricultural industry has been promoting years. Good urban forestry programs do not allow tree topping as part of their best management practices and tree trimming standards.

  • Topping stresses and often kill trees because it removes the leaves that produce food for the tree. The resulting wounds expose the tree to insect attacks and diseases.

  • Topping cuts create decay. The rapidly growing sprouts that emerge at that point as the tree scrambles to grow new leaf cover pose a high risk to public safety because they are weakly attached.

  • Topping destroys a tree's natural shape and is very ugly because trees have an excellent natural shape unique to each species.

  • Topping is expensive and unnecessary, creating an ongoing liability – if the tree survives - which is costly to maintain and makes for a future hazard where the tree has to be removed and replaced.

  • Topping is prohibited by city code and can result in thousands of dollars in fines and replacement costs.

  • Topping jeopardizes our Tree City USA status, a highly prized designation for cities that value their trees and exemplify good environmental stewardship.

Tree Maintenance Program

Street Tree Replacement Program

Provides funding for the purchase and contracting of trees. Applies only to tree planting at locations where trees were removed the previous years. A new tree planting program is planned for the future to provide over 3,000 identified sites for new street trees.

Street Tree Maintenance Program

  • Pruning public trees for clearance over streets, sidewalks, street lights, and traffic signs identified as high priority locations
  • Removing public trees that have died or pose a high risk to public safety. The #1 Priority Tree Removal Program tree work is contracted to tree service companies through competitive bidding.
  • Special Programs are budget dependent and address tree and sidewalk heaving issues. These programs are a partnership between the Urban Forestry Program and Public Works. 
  • Emergency Tree Maintenance Services address immediate tree concerns of extreme risk. On-call agreements exist with various tree companies to expedite the removal process. 
  • Tree Watering Program over 330 street trees are hand watered each summer using a contracted 4,000 gallon tanker.

Public services

  • Street tree questions and assistance
  • General information on yard trees
  • Site visit to assist with tree and landscape issues
  • Other tree informational resources available
  • Site Development inquiries related to tree retention and landscape design review
  • Tree planting and maintenance training for neighborhood groups

More Information

  • Free Tree Information Need to know more about trees, how to hire a certified arborist, wondering how much to prune or want information on new tree planting technology? Contact the City Forester for informational brochures on over 20 tree topics.
  • Tree Owner's Manual

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