Trees

Bellevue is proud of the towering firs and broad maples that grow in our city, and we're launching the We Love Our Trees campaign to show it! With nature walks, volunteer events, and beautiful yard signs, we're building a community of tree lovers across the city.

Trees are working hard to make our homes healthier and happier, but much of their work is invisible. Let's give trees the credit they deserve:

  • Trees keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter 
  • 'Fresh Air' is more than a figure of speech -- trees remove air pollution
  • Trees catch rainwater, reducing flood risks along with utility bills
  • They fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide as they grow
  • Most importantly, they provide places to play, picnic, and relax
  • And with two-thirds of the trees in Bellevue in residential neighborhoods, they need your support. Take the We Love Our Trees pledge today and find out all the different ways to can show your support!

    We Love Out Trees Pledge

    Bellevue is proud of our trees! Take the pledge today to join us in keeping our 'City in a Park' green, healthy, and beautiful!

    Bellevue is known as a "city in a park." In fact, Bellevue has 2,500 acres of parks and open space, and nearly 8,000 acres of tree canopy. Our trails, open space, parks, recreation centers, ballfields, blueberry farms, community gardens (p-patches) and playgrounds make up 12% of the city's land. Nearly three out of four residents have a park or trail access point within one-third of a mile from their home.

    Our Commitment

    The City of Bellevue is committed to natural resource stewardship and a healthy and sustainable urban forest. A 2017 assessment found that 37% of the City is covered by tree canopy. In the updated Comprehensive Plan, the City set a target of 40% tree canopy cover, as recommended by leading national experts American Forests. By achieving this goal, we can expand on the health and economic benefits that trees provide.

    • Planted over 1,050 trees in city parks and open spaces (2016)
    • Actively maintained 15 acres of natural areas each year
    • Exceeded target for maintaining 70% of forests in healthy condition (72% of Bellevue forests are in a class 1 or 2 'healthy' state)
    • Joined King County's 1 Million Tree Campaign
    • Updated the Clearing and Grading code through the NPDES effort to require a permit for the removal of more than five trees over three years

    To get involved with tree preservation in Bellevue, check out the many volunteer opportunities in our parks, or plant a tree on your own property using the Tree Care resources found in the tabs above.

    Tree Canopy Assessment

    We have been measuring our tree canopy using aerial imaging roughly every ten years since 1986. Up-to-date data on tree canopy cover and impervious surfaces allows the City to make informed decisions about stormwater management, land use, and the benefits that trees provide.

    The most recent 2017 Tree Canopy Assessment provides key insights in Bellevue’s forests. While there has been a decline in tree cover since the first assessment in 1986, the decline has leveled off since 2008. Two-thirds of all the park land in Bellevue is forested, but a majority (65%) of the City’s tree canopy area is in suburban residential areas. The Environmental Stewardship Initiative is working to conserve existing trees while finding opportunities to plant more throughout the city. 

    For more information, go to Bellevue's 2017 Tree Canopy Assessment Fact Sheet and the 2017 Tree Canopy Assessment Report.

    Tree Rules in Bellevue

    According to the City's Conflict Resolution Center, 25 percent of neighborhood mediation cases in Bellevue involve trees.

    Find the full tree rules on our Development Services page and be a good neighbor!

    Tree Care Resources

    The Right Tree for Your Yard

    Planting the right tree in the right place ensures a safe and beautiful property for decades to come. Some key factors to bear in mind are size, site condition, and your own preferences.

    When choosing a location for your tree, plan for the size it will become, not the size it is when you get it. Larger trees should be planted well away from buildings and power lines, while smaller trees can be planted closer to a home. Different species also prefer wetter or drier conditions, so consider the soil as well as surrounding structures. Most importantly, plant a tree that you will love. Whether it's for beauty, privacy, or fresh fruit, pick a tree that will make you happy year after year.

    Planting

    Now that you have a tree and location in mind, it's time to plant. Call 811 before you dig to make to make sure there are no buried utilities nearby.

    Once you know a site is safe, dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and 2-3 times as wide. Gently remove the tree from the pot and place it in the center of the hole, being careful to handle it from the bottom and not by the trunk. Brush dirt away from the roots and loosen them, as a good spread of roots will help your tree grow strong.

    Start filling in the hole with dirt. Make sure of two things: first, that the trunk is vertical, and second, that the root flare is just barely exposed. The root flare is where the first large root extends from the trunk, and burying it can lead to rotting. A guide to proper planting can be found here.

    Caring For a Young Tree 

    Young trees need three things: water, mulch, and pruning. 

    Water your trees twice a week in the dry summer months. A new tree can need as much as 15-20 gallons of water, enough to wet the soil two inches below the surface. Water below the canopy but not right up against the trunk, which can lead to rotting. Additionally, you can water in the cooler morning or evening hours to conserve water.

    Spreading two inches of mulch around the base of the tree also helps it thrive. Mulch helps reduce water loss from evaporation as well as keeping down weeds that may compete with the trees. When mulching, avoid piling up a "mulch volcano" around the base of the tree.

    Pruning is about more than making your trees pretty; it also helps them thrive. Removing weak of competing branches early ensured that your trees will grow into a healthy, pleasing shape. The Bellevue Parks Department has created a guide on pruning techniques.

    Caring For a Mature Tree

    Mature trees take less care than young ones, but you can't ignore them entirely. In hot, dry weather, they need the same watering that young trees do. Mulching can help regulate temperature and moisture as well.

    Mature trees should be regularly inspected by a certified arborist. They will be able to tell you if your tree is healthy or if it needs treatment. Pruning is important for older trees, as lower branches will often need to be removed as they become less useful. Only a certified arborist should removed branches from mature trees, as they know how to do it safely. If you are concerned about tree hazards, they are the best people to ask.

    Property Questions

    If you are unsure whether a tree is yours or belongs to the city, refer to your property title report or email rightofwayuse@bellevuewa.gov or parksweb@bellevuewa.gov to help determine whether a tree is on public or private property.

    For more information about trees, visit the City's Development Services department site.

    Tree Canopy Mitigation

    Bellevue remains committed to maintaining its "city in a park" character. However, steady development over the last 30 years has resulted in a significant loss of trees. In 1986, the tree canopy was estimated at 45 percent and by the year 2007, it had declined to 36 percent. 

    To accommodate growth in Bellevue over the coming decades, several major infrastructure projects are planned to expand light rail, road capacity and electrical infrastructure capacity. These projects will all result in some tree canopy loss.

    By recognizing the potential threats to trees, the City of Bellevue remains pro-active by requiring mitigation for tree loss from these major projects. This mitigation will result in more trees being planted and taking root in Bellevue. Read more about tree canopy mitigation projects here.

    My Alerts

    Contact

    Jennifer EwingProgram Manager

    Telephone

    (425) 452-6129

    Email

    jewing@bellevuewa.gov
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