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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 2016-2021, the Grit City Trees program has provided 1,589 trees to the Tacoma community with 59% 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 for neighbors who organize and apply together (see below). Individual applicants will need to pick-up trees and materials from a centralized location.
  • 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 2022: Applications open.

September 2022: As of 9/26/2022, applications have closed for the 2022 season.

If we were unable to provide you with a tree this year, be sure to reapply for the 2023 Grit City Trees Program or consider applying to our Tree Coupon Program.


October-November 2022: Delivery to Neighborhood groups are targeted for mid-late October. Individual pick-ups are targeted for mid-October to early November. Trees will be available at the City of Tacoma’s Plant Holding Facility. Specific scheduling details will be included after application approval.


May 2023: Urban Forestry Staff and our partners will distribute watering supplies to individual applicants and neighborhood groups.


How do I participate?

Applications are currently closed and will open again Summer 2023. If you would like to be notified when applications open, please email trees@cityoftacoma.org. Although applications are currently closed, you can still prepare by completing Steps 1-3 below!


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.

  • Approved individual applications 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 call 8-1-1 and have your underground utilities marked. 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 is now on a digital platform! Submitting a digital application will expedite the review and approval process. If you would like to submit a paper application, or if you need application assistance please contact trees@cityoftacoma.org.

  • 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.
  • 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.


2022 Tree List

We have tentatively secured the below tree species from wholesale nursery partners. While we all work hard on the ground to ensure these species are available, ongoing supply chain challenges and intensifying heat waves are circumstances beyond our control. With that, the tree species are subject to change given unforeseen conditions. If tree availability changes, we will reach out to program participants with updated tree substitutions.


Small Trees

Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obstusa 'Gracilis' (powerline friendly)

Japanese Lilac, Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’ and ‘Summer Charm' (powerline friendly)

Persian Ironwood, Parrotia persica



Medium Trees

Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D. Blanchard’ and ‘Edith Bogue’

Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa


Large Trees

Pin Oak, Quercus palustris ‘Pacific Brilliance’

Tuliptree, Liriodendron tulipifera 'Emerald City'


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 from the property owner will be approved.