Bellevue has earned the nickname “a city in a park,” and our street trees and arterial landscapes provide an essential link between each piece of our expansive parks and open space system. As the percentage of urban tree cover falls nationwide, our street trees become increasingly important. To maintain a healthy urban forest, Bellevue’s Parks & Community Services Department provides care to our city’s street trees, including the stewardship of over 10,000 street trees and associated landscapes located along over 100 miles of streets.
Our responsibilities include:
- Maintaining arterial landscapes, including shrub pruning, weeding and litter cleanup.
- Ensuring a safe pedestrian environment, including maintenance of street tree grates and sidewalk sweeping downtown.
- Coordinating with other departments to ensure a high-quality streetscape for all citizens.
- Monitoring and assessing right-of-way trees.
- Inspecting construction activity adjacent to trees to ensure proper tree protection.
- Reviewing and inspecting new streetscape landscape and tree installation.
- Replacing street trees and landscape renovation.
- Pruning street trees.
Report a Problem
Request tree pruning or report a problem with a specific tree using our street tree inventory viewer. We track every street tree maintained by the Parks Department in our database. If you are curious about what species a particular tree is, you can look it up here.
If you would like to report a hazardous situation in part of the right-of-way that the Parks Department does not maintain, please contact the Transportation Operations and Maintenance Team at 425-452-7840 or OMSupport@bellevuewa.gov.
Street Tree Basics
The urban environment is a difficult place to grow trees. Common stressors of street trees include pollution from traffic, limited root space, reflected heat from the road and adjacent buildings, gusty winds from fast-moving traffic and canyons created by buildings, construction damage, vehicle collisions, soil compaction, vandalism, and weed-eater and lawnmower damage. You can help our urban forest grow by assisting with the following activities:
Slow and deep watering encourages tree roots to grow deep into the soil, improving drought tolerance. This can be accomplished by using special watering bags, installed irrigation, or by enlisting the help of nearby neighbors. If you see a watering bag on a tree near your home, feel free to fill it up! Young trees need a lot of water for at least three years after planted, while they establish a new root system.
Properly pruning trees requires skill and experience. An improper cut can cause response growth that makes the issue worse rather than better and may permanently harm the tree. If done correctly, regular pruning helps direct the growth and ensure a long-lived tree with minimal conflicts with other right-of-way uses. The city only uses certified arborists for this work, as they are trained to anticipate the tree's response to the pruning. Young trees are pruned annually until they are tall enough to stop causing pedestrian or vehicular conflicts. Mature trees are pruned on a seven-year cycle to ensure a healthy, well-formed canopy. You can help our arborists by allowing them access to your driveway or parking lot. This enables them to work more quickly and minimize traffic conflicts.
Planting the right tree in the right place is essential for good street tree management. At maturity, the tree should fit under power lines and have a mature size that is appropriate for the available space. Before planting or removing a tree in the right-of-way, you should check with city staff to ensure that there won't be any issues.
The roadside environment is especially hard on trees. You can help us maintain these trees by calling the Parks & Community Services Department’s Street Tree program staff if you see any of the following issues:
- Broken limbs
- Damage to the trunk
- Unseasonal leaf fall
- Toppled or uprooted trees
- Poor tree health
- Broken or missing sidewalk grates
- Construction next to a tree
- Malfunctioning irrigation
- Branch conflicts with buildings, signage, pedestrians, or vehicles
- Unauthorized pruning
Trees managed by the Parks Department should never be pruned by adjacent property owners. Please get in touch with us, and we will happily make sure the issue is resolved by our ISA Certified Arborist contractors or staff. However, if you need to prune trees on your own property or areas of right-of-way that are not managed by the Parks Department, these Pruning Guidelines are essential to follow to ensure that your tree will continue to grow in value as an asset.
Do not top trees! It is illegal to top any trees in Critical Areas or on city property, including the right-of-way, and it is a bad idea to top privately-owned trees. Topping causes uncontrolled growth that can create unsafe conditions and will make the problem worse. There are other methods of pruning or tree selection that can resolve issues caused by trees that are tall.
Please get in touch with city staff if you are unsure about regulations regarding removal or pruning of a specific tree.
Development & Tree Protection
Streetscape design guidelines, Standard Details, materials specs, irrigation requirements, tree protection information and soil volume requirements can be found in Bellevue's Environmental Best Management Practices Manual.