Trees for Seattle is the City of Seattle’s webpage for all things tree. This portal connects to websites about trees in all City Departments and outside of city government.

Seattle Street Tree Manual provides a one-stop tree care reference for residents, developers, contractors and tree service providers. It puts into a descriptive form the requirements and standards established by the Seattle Street Tree Ordinance (SMC 15.43.).

Frequently asked questions

What is a street tree?

A street tree is a tree planted in the public right-of-way (ROW). Most street trees are in the part of the ROW called the planting strip - the strip of land between the sidewalk and the edge of the street. Where there is no sidewalk, the planting strip is usually defined as the space 10 feet from the edge of the street.

What is the public “right-of-way”?

A right-of-way (ROW) is a strip land where the public has the “right” to travel. Almost all streets in Seattle are in the ROW. The ROW is usually wider than the street, so it usually includes the planting strip and sidewalks.

Property owners technically own the land in front of their property up to the middle of the street in front of their property. (However, the public owns legal rights to travel in the public right-of-way, so many people think of the ROW as completely owned by the public.)

Who maintains street trees?

If a street tree was planted by the City of Seattle, it is owned and maintained by the City, usually by SDOT. If a street was planted privately, the adjacent property owner is responsible for all maintenance, including pruning.

SDOT regulates all street trees regardless of who is responsible to maintain them.

Rights-of-way were originally created to provide the public with access to travel around the City. However, some rights-of-way were never turned into a street. Trees in an unopened right-of-way are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner on each side of the right-of-way.


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Transportation

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.