|Tree Distribution Program|
Notable Tree Program
Public Tree Planting Program
Commemorative Tree Program
Tree Canopy Fund
|Tree Care Tips|
Conserving Energy with Landscaping
Things You Should Know About Watering Trees
Tree Pests Including Borers & Gypsy Moths
Tree Preservation Ordinance
Tree Removal Permits
Where Not to Plant Trees
|Champion Trees Brochure (PDF)|
Notable Tree Brochure (PDF)
Urban Forestry Commission (PDF)
Training Manual for Virginia Tree Stewards
Tree Stewards Program
Arlington County takes great pride in maintaining the County's signature tree canopy. Our trees are highly valued by both the citizens and County staff. Several studies have been performed to identify our Urban Tree Canopy (UTC). These studies use satellite imagery to find where our trees are.
In Arlington County's 2008 assessment of tree canopy cover (PDF), we found 43% UTC in the County (not including Department of Defense lands, such as the Pentagon). In a 2011 assessment (PDF), provided to us by Casey Trees and the University of Vermont, we found we had lost a significant portion of that, and we are now at approximately 40% tree canopy cover. While this meets American Forests' recommended target tree canopy, the reduction in our canopy is a sign we need to stay vigilant. There are several projects underway to help combat this loss.
Each year 600-700 public trees are removed due to storm damage, invasive species, disease, drought, and a variety of other factors. These trees are much larger than ones that can be planted. Although this represents a significant portion of our canopy, most canopy loss is on private property. Canopy loss on private property tends to be primarily due to development, poor tree maintenance, and storms.
To combat the public loss of trees, the County plants trees on public property, such as parks and street right-of-ways, and works with the Arlington Tree Canopy Fund to increase canopy on private property.
The County typically plants trees that are 1 ½" to 3 ½" in diameter at breast height, depending upon location, species selection, and/or other factors, with most being in the middle of that range.
Working with non-profit organizations, such as Tree Stewards, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Casey Trees, and the Arlington Master Naturalists, we provide outreach and planting to private landowners. This helps mitigate the loss of our canopy through education on maintenance, watering, and replanting.
The County currently has about 19,000 street trees. Potential sites for more street trees have also been identified. In addition, more trees can be planted in parks and in other public spaces. If you believe you have space for a tree in the right-of-way in front of your house, please contact Mary Pierce, and we will investigate the potential planting space.
The County also has numerous trees in parks and around public buildings. Arlington Public Schools has numerous trees on school property and the County assists school officials, PTAs and other groups plant trees on school property. Arlington County Public Schools also works with nonprofits and other organizations on replanting some of their grounds. If you would like to see more trees on School property, contact your local school.
In addition to tree planting, the County takes care of existing trees with pruning, dead-wooding, cabling, and an invasive species removal program that has about 500 volunteers each year helping to get rid of plants that harm trees and the environment (e.g. English Ivy, Porcelainberry, Kudzu).
As a rule there is no permit required to remove trees which are on private property in Arlington County - however, there are some specific exceptions when a permit is required.
If your property is within an Historic Area, you will need a permit from the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB). Permission is required from the Board to remove a tree over 15-inches in diameter. If you property is in an Historic Area or are not certain whether it is in an Historic Area, you may contact Rebeccah Ballo, staff liaison for HALRB, for more information.
If your property is within a Resource Protection Area (RPA) you will need permission from the Department Of Environmental Services (DES) before any vegetation may be removed.
Resource Protection Areas are areas within 100-feet of a stream. RPAs may be extended more than 100-feet depending on how much slope there is along the stream. If your property is within a stream RPA or you are not certain whether your property is within a stream RPA, you may contact Jason Papacosma in DES.
If your trees are dead or extremely hazardous, both of these permits will be granted quickly. These programs are concerned with living trees or vegetation and will allow removal of hazardous trees with minimum process.
For by-right development projects over 2,500 square feet, a tree preservation and planting plan is required, per the Chesapeake Bay Ordinance. Please refer to the "COMPLETE Guidance Manual to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance" and "20-year Tree Canopy Worksheet" for more information.