Front Yard Tree Planting Program

Green Button that reads "Apply for a Front Yard Tree!"

Front Yard Tree (Sweetgum) at 288 Kent Street

established sweetgum tree in someone's front yard

HOW IT WORKS: AN EASY 5-STEP PROCESS!

1. Submit a Front Yard Tree Application online or mail a hardcopy to Town Hall, Parks & Open Space Division, 333 Washington St., Brookline MA 02445.

2. A Tree Planting Committee member will contact you and discuss site logistics, appropriate species for the site, and any preferences you may have.

3. The Tree Planting Committee and Tree Warden will make a final determination and inform you of their decision. You will be asked to sign a "Front Yard Tree Planting Program Agreement" which outlines details regarding tree ownership and maintenance. 

4. The Tree Warden will contact DigSafe to ensure there are no underground utilities in the proposed planting location. 

5. Town staff will order the tree, schedule planting, and conduct the planting at no cost to you!

  1. Program Overview
  2. Am I Eligible to Participate?
  3. Example Tree Species
  4. F.A.Q.
  5. Tree Care  Guide


SUMMARY

The Tree Warden and Tree Planting Committee work with residents to identify suitable locations for planting and can recommend an appropriate tree for your front or side yard. If your site is a good candidate for this program, the Town will provide the tree and plant it at no cost to you. Please note that the tree must be completely visible from the street and planted within 20 feet of the sidewalk. The tree will be owned and maintained by the Town for the first five years after planting, and then relinquished to the homeowner’s care and ownership.  

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The Tree Planting Committee oversees the "Front Yard Tree Planting Program" program (formerly known as the Back of Sidewalk Tree Planting Program), which aims to enhance Brookline’s urban canopy by planting trees on private property within 20 feet of the public right of way. Through this successful program which began in the 1930s, over 11,000 street trees have been planted in Brookline. Private land generally provides a more conducive environment for tree growth than the public way, as private property is less susceptible to urban stressors such as de-icing salt, foot traffic, and pet waste.

The purpose of the Front Yard Tree Planting Program is to:

  1. Expand the diversity of the urban forest to enhance the resiliency of the urban canopy;
  2. Increase the number of trees contributing to and benefiting Brookline’s streetscapes;
  3. Utilize land near the public way that is more conducive to tree growth than the public way itself.

APPLICATION PROCESS

If you are interested in the Front Yard Tree Planting Program, we ask that you please fill out a Front Yard Tree Application. You can either: 

1) Submit your application online, or 

2) Download/Print a hard copy here and return it to:

Tom Brady, Tree Warden
Brookline Parks and Open Space Division
333 Washington Street
Brookline, MA 02445 

Or via email to parks@brooklinema.gov 

Once you have submitted the application, a member of the Tree Planting Committee will contact you to review the site and discuss any species preferences you may have. The Tree Planting Committee and Tree Warden will review your request at their upcoming quarterly Tree Planting Committee meeting. If the proposed site appears suitable for tree planting, you will be asked to complete a Front Yard Tree Planting Program Agreement. The Town will then contact DigSafe to conduct an assessment and ensure that there are no underground utilities in the proposed location. 

Applications are accepted throughout the year, and planting typically takes place in Spring (April – June) and Fall (September – November). The planting schedule is dependent on seasonal conditions, crew schedule, and plant availability.

"Since a tree on a narrow sidewalk when well grown becomes an obstruction to pedestrians, the planting of shade trees on private land a short distance from the sidewalk is of value in a town like Brookline, and it is so recognized by a special act permitting such planting." - Emma Cummings, Tree Planting Committee Member (1938)