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Planting in the Rights-of-Way

Planting in the Rights-of-Way


The Planting Strip

Before planting a tree on a City right-of-way, you need to obtain a planting permit. The right-of-way is generally the area between the sidewalk and the street, and includes the planting strip for street trees. In areas where there are no sidewalks or curbs, the Urban Forester will consider existing trees, right-of-way width, parking areas, and foreseeable street improvements when reviewing a planting permit.

Clearance Standards

As trees grow, they will need pruning to provide a vertical clearance of at least eight feet over the sidewalks and 14 feet over streets and alleys.Tree Planting Clearance Standards

Please note that street signage must be clearly visible. Street signage includes regulatory, warning, transit, and other City installed signs.

Vegetation planted in the right-of-way shall not obstruct sight of signs or sight distance at corners in order to clearly view pedestrians and traffic. This can usually be accomplished by ensuring trees are planted the proper distance from the corner and meet vertical clearance requirements, and ensuring that vegetation other than trees be kept at a height of three feet or lower, depending on the geography of the location.

Tree Placement Standards for Tacoma Rights-of-Way

Minimum Tree Placement Setback Checklist

(in feet) 

 Center Line of Tree to Center Line of:
 Street Corner


 Stop and Yield Signs


 Utility Poles


 Other Traffic Control Signs


 Center Line of Tree to Edge of:


 Face of Curb




 Edge of Tree to Edge of:
 Utility Worker Access Lids


 Gas Shutoff Valves


 Fire Hydrant and Hydrant Branches


 Water Meter, Water Services and Water Mains


 Storm Inlets, Catch Basins and Manholes


 Storm/Sanitary Service Connections and Mains


Call Before You Dig


Always Call Before You Dig, 811 in Washington

In order to protect the health and well being of yourself, your property and the community, always locate and identify any underground utilities that may impact the location of your trees before you dig.


Non-Recommended and Prohibited Street Trees

Several trees are not permitted to be planted in the right-of-way per

Tacoma Municipal Code 9.19


There are no exceptions. Prohibited trees consist of the following:

  • Poplar 
  • Cottonwood 
  • Willow 
  • Fruit trees 
  • Nut trees 
  • Mountain ash 
  • Big leaf maple 
  • Any species or type with growth characteristics similar to those above
  • Additional List of Trees Not Recommended for Planting

Size of Tree When Planted

Residential street trees should be a minimum of one to one-and-a-half inches caliper (equivalent to about a 15 to 25 gallon container).

Non-residential sites, or sites prone to vandalism (such as near schools or bars), should be a minimum of two to two-and-a-half inches caliper at the time of planting.


Other Planting in the Rights-of-Way: Raised Beds

The City of Tacoma does allow raised beds to be constructed in the rights-of-way. A no-fee Street Occupancy Permit is required at this time. This permit can be obtained by contacting Real Property Services.

Raised beds need to meet the following standards:Raised Beds Standards

  • Maximum height for the built raised bed is two feet
  • All raised beds shall be setback from the curb and sidewalk a minimum of two feet
  • All raised beds shall provide pedestrian access to the sidewalk with a minimum of three feet width between sections

Raised Beds Standard Requirements


Permit Counter

(253) 591-5030


Apply for a Planting Permit

For Additional Questions,

Call 311 within Tacoma or (253) 591-5000 from anywhere else.