Public Shade Tree Planting

Public Shade Tree Planting Policy

Standard Operating Procedures

Public funding for tree planting and replacement is limited. To best utilize tax dollars and other available resources for the greatest benefit, the following tree planting procedures have been established by Concord Public Works (CPW):
  1. Priority for Planting Street Trees
    • Plantings that have the greatest long-term and positive impact on the appearance and shade of the streetscape.
    • Plantings in prominent public places where new trees could enhance the quality of community life or economic vitality.
    • Replacement of trees that have been lost, consistent with Section 3 below. It is the CPW's goal to obtain adequate funding so that at least one public shade tree will be planted for each public shade tree that is removed or dies.
      • It is desirable to plant more public shade trees than are removed to compensate for tree losses and the length of time to maturity.
  2. Expenditures from Tree Funds
    • In accordance with state law, public funds may be expended to plant public shade trees up to 20 feet from a public way[1] or from a duly laid-out and publicly available private way according to the priorities and limitations of this standard operating procedure. All trees planted within the public way including trees planted within 20 feet in accordance with such law are public shade trees and are protected as such.
  3. Planting Location - "The right tree in the right place."[2]
    • Public shade trees should be planted between 8-20 feet (12-20 feet preferred) from the traveled way, rather than in the grass strip between curb and sidewalk. When this is not possible, public shade trees may be planted closer to the edge of pavement so long as there is a high probability of the trees' survival and health[3], and with the prior approval of the Public Works Director.
    • Written permission must be obtained from property owners where trees are planted outside the public way but no more than 20 feet from the public way.
    • Click Here for information regarding the Setback Tree Planting Program.
  4. Choice of Tree Species
    • When selecting tree species for planting, the following factors should be considered:
      • Creation of a canopy
      • Species diversification for disease resistance within the tree population
      • Pest resistance
      • Low maintenance (spraying, pruning, and sweeping)
      • Tolerance of conflicting conditions (salt, compaction, root space, and fumes if not planted in optimum location)
  5. Tree Gifts
    • Gifts of trees are welcomed. Tree gifts are generally tax-deductible. Arrangements for planting gift trees in locations approved by the Director should be made with the CPW Highway and Grounds Division.
  6. Jurisdiction
    • Public shade trees in Concord are under the joint jurisdiction of the Public Works Commission[4] and the Tree Warden, with the duties defined under MGL Chapter 87: Public Shade Trees[5]. The program is also administered in close coordination with the Deputy Tree Warden. All public shade tree removals must have prior approval of the Tree Warden and only after a public hearing. Emergency tree removals need the Tree Warden's prior approval.


[1] For the purpose of "improving, protecting, shading, or ornamenting the same, provided written consent be obtained."

[2] "Planting the tree in the right place is the key to its survival and longevity." The Citizen Forester, January, 2006.

[3] That the tree will develop to its desired shape, fulfill its design intent and live to its normal life expectancy.

[4] No tree shall be planted in the public way or removed without first obtaining a written permit from the Commissioners of Public Works (acting as Road Commissioners) and then only in accordance with its regulations: Private Digging of Roads Bylaw, Article 47, Town Meeting, 1992.

[5] "…no tree shall be planted within a public way without the approval of the tree warden, and in towns until a location therefore has been obtained from the selectmen or road commissioners." Chapter 87, Section 2.