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Last Updated: Oct 17, 2017

Urban Canopy

The first thing you notice about Palo Alto? “It’s the trees".

The luxuriously leafy “urban forest canopy” lives up to the name. It’s only fitting, because the City itself is named for the El Palo Alto (“the tall tree”) coast redwood still standing in El Palo Alto Park on the banks of San Francisquito Creek. The City of Palo Alto is distinguished by the State of California and National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City-USA.

The City of Palo Alto is endowed with a large population of magnificent trees, native and non-native, on public and private properties. Trees are a source of shade, air conditioning and other environmental benefits, providing quality of life and economic benefits to the community, residents and businesses.

Palo Alto tree programs are aimed at sustaining trees in the challenging developed and natural areas that require careful planning and vigilant maintenance. The Urban Forest Master Plan was adopted by the City of Palo Alto on May 11, 2015 and targets important areas of environmental stewardship:

  • Tree management programs
  • Key staffing for both public and private program areas
  • Partnerships and education with community residents and Canopy, a non-profit organization
  • Administration of the tree preservation and management regulations adopted in 1996.

The Urban Forest Master Plan’s forest preservation goals will incorporate new landscape design requirements to address multiple goals including:

  • Water Efficiency
  • Protection of regulated trees
  • Shading of hardscape features
  • Compatibility with existing landscapes
  • Native habitat
  • No net loss of tree canopy

The City of Palo Alto welcomes you to browse our programs, use the forms and tools for best practices, find contacts and links, and learn from our educational resources and updated news.

Featured Topics

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2016
City of Palo Alto Utilities Named 2016 Tree Line USA by Arbor Day Foundation
Utility is recognized for second year in a row for demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for community and citizen benefits.

Tree-Lined Street in Palo Alto

Trees Need Water (Especially) During Times of Drought
Palo Alto has done a great job in its water conservation efforts, and through its diligence, the community has cut water usage more than 33 percent compared to 2013 levels. While we need to conserve water, doing so may be impacting the City's trees, which are showing signs of stress.


What are those Awesome Flowering Trees in Front of City Hall?
The Palo Alto Tree Programs group responds to this repeating inquiry every year. "What are those awesome flowering trees in front of City Hall?"

City Owned Trees
The Street Tree Management Program adopted in 1984 specifies City policy for maintenance and planting programs, among other things.

About Palo Alto's Urban Forestry Program
An Overview of the City of Palo Alto's Tree Program

Protected Trees & Landscaping Information
Definitions of Tree Related Terms

Development and Trees
When planning redevelopment of a property, or performing any remodeling, construction, or additions, you should familiarize yourself with the Tree Ordinance regulations that apply to your property.

Palo Alto's Heritage Trees
Information Regarding Heritage Trees