TreeVitalize Pittsburgh Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for trees?
Any Allegheny County resident may apply for trees on behalf of their community. This includes community members, non-profit organizations, municipalities and other organizations. Application forms will be posted to our website prior to the deadline dates twice annually.

Where can TreeVitalize trees be planted?
All trees must be planted on public property. This can be in the public right-of-way along streets, parks or greenspaces, vacant lots and along hillsides or stream banks. Trees can be used to restore areas affected by pest and disease issues as well.

What if we do not have a tree ordinance or Shade Tree Commission?
We require municipalities to have an ordinance that supports and protects the trees we plant. TreeVitalize can identify resources that help municipalities work towards these goals and provide a sample ordinance if needed. The city of Pittsburgh has a Shade Tree Commission that was established in 1998; all neighborhoods within the city already meet the tree ordinance requirement.

What types of trees are planted?
TreeVitalize focuses on planting the right tree in the right place; a proper landscape plan takes each tree into consideration before being planted. All species are assigned by a forester based on site conditions and availabilities from the tree nurseries. TreeVitalize focuses on planting a very diverse range of trees with emphasis on native species when possible. TreeVitalize plants large shade trees, wherever applicable, to increase the overall tree canopy within the county.

Who is responsible for caring for TreeVitalize trees?
Tree care is a central component of the TreeVitalize Pittsburgh project. Significant resources are invested in planting the trees, and caring for them ensures that this investment is protected.

Trees are cared for through four primary methods—local residents, Tree Tenders, contractors and WPC staff. Community applicants to TreeVitalize commit to three years of watering the new trees in their neighborhoods. Trained “Tree Tenders” are mobilized by Tree Pittsburgh to undertake year round maintenance activities including weeding, mulching, watering and pruning. In areas where Tree Tenders or residents are not available for maintenance, WPC hires landscape contractors to undertake tree care efforts. WPC staff handles tree care for some special projects, such as the Millvale TreeVitalize Project, and as needed during periods of extremely dry weather. Long term tree care is the responsibility of the city and its forestry department. These steps help to ensure that the trees will thrive in order to provide us with the environmental, economic, social and aesthetic benefits we seek.

Why do some trees die?
Urban environments, particularly commercial areas and business districts, are challenging locations for trees to survive. Major stressors in these areas include heat, air pollution, road salt, sidewalk de-icers and cleaners, vandalism and automobile accidents. While the species of trees we plant can tolerate these conditions, there are inevitable losses when stressors are combined.

Will dead/damaged trees be replaced?
The City of Pittsburgh will often replace a tree after foresters determine the cause of the loss. Depending on the circumstances, the species may be changed to better accommodate the particular conditions at the planting site. If the loss occurs more than once, the location will not be re-planted. If the tree was planted in a sidewalk tree pit, The City of Pittsburgh takes responsibility for assuring that the sidewalk is restored.

Where did the money to plant trees come from?
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy raises funds for tree plantings through private foundations, government agencies and corporations. Many of the trees in commercial corridors within the city, including Liberty Avenue, Penn Avenue, Brownsville Road and Brighton Road, were planted through funds received by PennVest. PennVest is a Pennsylvania state agency that funds sewer, storm water and drinking water projects; contributing to improving Pennsylvania's environment and the health of its people, while providing opportunities for economic growth and jobs for Pennsylvania's workers. A current list of our funders may also be viewed on our website’s TreeVitalize Funding section.

How can I get involved?
You can organize a tree planting for your community by applying to TreeVitalize for trees, becoming a Tree Tender with Tree Pittsburgh and attending tree care events throughout Pittsburgh, or volunteering at any of our tree plantings that occur every spring and fall season.

WPC staff explains proper techniques to plant new trees in Ben Avon, Spring 2013

For more information, please send inquiries to trees@paconserve.org.