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Grit City Trees

Program Overview 

Grit City Trees is the City of Tacoma’s annual free street tree program for Tacoma residents. The Grit City Trees program has seen many iterations since 1993. In 2016, the program was revitalized with a dedicated focus on proper tree placement and selectionguidance on planting in the right of way, educational resources on long-term care and maintenance, and supplies to assist participants in tree watering. From 2016-2023, the Grit City Trees program has provided 1,867 trees to the Tacoma community with 60% of trees going to communities with the greatest need as identified in the City of Tacoma Equity Index Map.


The goal of the Grit City Trees program is to equitably grow happy and healthy neighborhoods through community tree planting. With tree canopy coverage as low as 2.9% in some historically under-served neighborhoods, it is vital for the City to provide resources to support tree growth in these communities. With this in mind, the limited resources and support we have available through the Grit City Trees program will be for Priority Planting Areas (neighborhoods identified as “Moderate”, “Low” to “Very Low” Opportunity on Tacoma’s Equity Index). Though we prioritize applications, all Tacoma property owners with eligible right of way planting opportunities are still encouraged to apply.


Through the Grit City Trees Program, approved applicants will receive:

  • Free street trees to be planted in the right-of-way.
  • Other supporting materials to help your trees thrive including: tree stakes, ties, TAGRO (compost), and watering supplies for the dry months.
  • Free delivery of all trees and supporting materials.  We are able to accommodate delivery of 150 trees. If tree requests exceed this amount, we will prioritize deliveries for:
    • Neighbors who organize and apply together as a Neighborhood Group.
    • Individual applicants in Priority Planting Areas.
    • Remaining applicants must pick up trees and materials from the City's plant holding facility.
  • Application assistance, as needed.
  • Planting assistance if needed - due to staffing constraints, this is available on a limited basis.
  • Planting Permit submittal on your behalf, after application is approved.


Program Timeline

July 2024: Applications Open


September 2024: Completed applications are due September 2, 2024.


Urban Forestry staff reviews applications and approved applicants are notified with tree delivery details at the end of the month. If we are unable to provide you with a tree this year, be sure to reapply for the 2025 Grit City Trees Program or consider applying to our Tree Coupon Program.


October-November 2024: Delivery of Grit City Trees is tentatively scheduled for mid-late October. Tree planting assistance is tentatively scheduled for late October – early November. More specific details will be included once your application is approved.


May 2025: Urban Forestry Staff and our partners will distribute watering supplies to individual applicants and neighborhood groups.

How do I participate? (Application link here)

Applications are now open! Review the steps below and apply online. The application deadline is Friday, September 2, 2024. If you need application assistance, please contact trees@cityoftacoma.org.


Step 1: Confirm eligibility

This program is funded by Tacoma Surface Water Utility rates and the General Fund. You must  plant trees provided through this program in Tacoma city-limits. Additionally, trees must be planted in the right-of-way adjoining property that you are the owner of. The “right-of-way” is the space between the edge of the road and the edge of the property line. In many instances, this looks like a “planting strip” or plantable space between the road and sidewalk, however, your property may still have plantable right of way at the back of your sidewalk, depending on where your property line is located.


To see the extent of your right-of-way, check out Tacoma’s DART map.  For assistance on how to use Tacoma's DART Map, please review this guide


Step 2: Decide on your application type

Neighborhood Group Applications: If you and at least two other neighbors (within a two-block distance) are interested in Grit City Trees, apply together and we will deliver your trees!

  • As a group, you will need to designate a Group Lead. The Group Lead will receive your group’s delivery of trees and supporting materials (TAGRO, tree stakes, tree ties, and watering supplies).
  • Each group member will submit applications separately but will select the “As a neighborhood group” option when prompted on the application.

Individual Applications: We encourage individual applications, too! Please note, there is a limited availability of trees. In the rare occasion that we cannot fulfill all applications, preference is given, first, to those in Priority Planting Areas (neighborhoods identified as “Moderate”, “Low” to “Very Low” Opportunity on Tacoma’s Equity Index) and group applications.

  • Should we exceed our delivery capacity, approved individual applications outside our Priority Planting Areas (neighborhoods identified as “Moderate”, “Low” to “Very Low” Opportunity on Tacoma’s Equity Index) will be required to pick up trees from the City of Tacoma Plant Holding Facility at the Recycling and Transfer Center.

Step 3: Gather details of your planting site

  • You will be asked to provide the width (in feet) of your planting strip or right-of-way planting area. To see the extent of your right-of-way, check out Tacoma’s DART map.
  • You will be asked to upload an image that displays the placement of your potential tree(s). We recommend using Tacoma's DART Map to create your tree planting plan. When you have marked the map accordingly, take a screenshot and upload that image.  For assistance on how to use Tacoma's DART Map, please review the guide in Step 1.
  • You will be asked if you have overhead power lines above the area being planted.
  • You will need to request marking of your underground utilities. You can do so by calling 8-1-1 or submitting your request online here. This free service is a requirement that helps you stay safe and not damage underground utilities during tree planting. You will be prompted to provide a utility locate number on your application.

Step 4: Ready to apply!

Our Grit City Trees application has gone digital! This digital platform allows us to expedite the review and approval process. If you need application assistance please contact trees@cityoftacoma.org.


Apply Now

¡Regístrate Ahora!

  • You will be notified if your application is approved no sooner than 3 weeks after applications close.


Step 5: After approval, and ready to plant!

Applicants will be notified of the number and type(s) of trees they are approved for.

  • Individual applicants will need to coordinate a pick-up time, if we exceed our delivery capacity.
  • Group Applications will be notified of their delivery date.
  • Visit our Planting and Growing web page for more guidance on planting tips to give your trees the best chance at long-term success.
  • Consider registering for free Envirohouse workshops and webinars.


2024 Tree List

Tree species are subject to change given unforeseen conditions. If tree availability changes, we will reach out to program participants with updated tree substitutions.


If your space allows, consider planting a large tree for maximum tree canopy impact! Large trees are community assets that do more to help keep neighborhoods cool during the hottest days, manage stormwater runoff, slow neighborhood traffic, provide mental health benefits, and so much more.


Trees for large planting areas (8+ feet wide, from the edge of curb to sidewalk/property line): Suggested spacing between trees: 30’ from the center of the trunk.

White Oak, Quercus alba, deciduous
Italian Oak, Quercus frainetto 'Schmidt', deciduous. Only 4 available.


Trees for medium planting areas (6-7 feet wide, from the edge of curb to sidewalk/property line): Suggested spacing between trees: 20-25’ from the center of the trunk.


Cork tree, Phellodendron amurense 'Longnecker’, deciduous
Limber pine, Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf's Pyramid’, evergreen
Deodar cedar, Cedrus deodara, evergreen
City Sprite® zelkova, Zelkova serrata 'JFS-KW1', (powerline friendly), deciduous
Cornelian cherry dogwood, Cornus mas, (powerline friendly), deciduous
Kentucky coffeetree, Gymnocladus dioicus 'Espresso-JFS', deciduous


Trees for small planting areas (4-5 feet wide, from the edge of curb to sidewalk/property line): Suggested spacing between trees: 15-20’ from the center of the trunk


Thornless cockspur hawthorn, Crataegus crus-galli, (powerline friendly), deciduous. Only 2 available.
Japanese Lilac, Syringa reticulata 'Summer Storm' (powerline friendly), deciduous
Ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba-multiple varieties, deciduous
Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica 'Tupelo Tower’, deciduous
American hophornbeam, Ostrya virginiana, deciduous



Common Program Questions

Why Plant a Tree?

  • Trees directly contribute to the City of Tacoma’s goal of achieving 30% tree canopy cover by 2030. Currently, Tacoma has an average tree canopy cover of 20% (the lowest assessed canopy cover in the Puget Sound region).
  • Trees directly improve your health, and the health of your community.
  • Trees help capture and reduce air pollutants, improving overall air quality in your neighborhood. Trees let you breathe easier!
  • Trees keep you cool by reducing temperatures on the hottest summer days, saving you money on your utility bill.
  • Trees help reduce stress and improve your sense of wellbeing by giving you relief from stressors of the urban environment.
  • Trees build community. While not required, we encourage you to talk with your neighbors about planting Grit City Trees together as a neighborhood.

I am a renter, can I participate in this program?

Thank you for considering the Grit City Trees Program! You are welcome to apply, however, only applications with a signed Tree Care Agreement (PDF or online submission) from the property owner will be approved.


I have tree requirements due to a development related and/or tree removal permit, can I participate in this program?

No. Grit City Trees is designed to support homeowners who want to go above and beyond with their tree planting efforts. While we encourage everyone to plant more trees, this program isn't set up for permit compliance needs.