Downtown Pittsburgh Trees

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has played a significant role in the reforestation of downtown Pittsburgh. Since 2010, we been working with our TreeVitalize Pittsburgh partners and downtown stakeholders to plant more than 750 trees to make downtown Pittsburgh a more attractive and vibrant place for residents, workers and visitors.

TreeVitalize Pittsburgh Plantings, Including Silva Cell Trees

From 2010 to 2012, we planted 275 street trees in downtown Pittsburgh through our TreeVitalize Pittsburgh partnership. Funded through the generosity of Colcom Foundation, the project significantly improved the diversity of tree species in downtown and enhanced overall tree canopy. With the help of our partners, we’ve developed a long-term maintenance program to ensure that these trees remain healthy now and into the future.

Silva Cells tree pits in Downtown Pittsburgh along Fifth Avenue
WPC Downtown Pittsburgh Greening - Planting
WPC Downtown Pittsburgh Greening - Trees
Silva Cell tree pitt

Included in those initial downtown plantings were 15 trees at Fifth Avenue Place that used special underground soil-cell technology, called silva cells. The silva cell is a modular suspended pavement system that uses soil volumes to support large tree growth and provide powerful on-site stormwater management through absorption, evapotranspiration and interception. To learn more about silva-cell technology, please visit

Silva cells give the trees at Fifth Avenue Place access to about three times more good soil than average urban trees. With all of this extra soil, the tree roots will be able to absorb more nutrients, water and oxygen to help them grow and flourish over the next few decades. TreeVitalize Pittsburgh planted the silva cell trees around Fifth Avenue Place thanks to a grant from Colcom Foundation and support from Highmark.

Point State Park Green Infrastructure Project

As a gift and as part of its centennial celebration, the Garden Club of Allegheny Club (GCAC) commissioned WPC to install an attractive bioswale and rain garden featuring native plants to help manage stormwater runoff in Point State Park.

The bioswale and rain garden was installed in 2015 at the base of the Fort Duquesne pedestrian bridge. Educational signage is available to the park’s 2 million annual visitors and provides information on the benefits and effectiveness of natural approaches like bioswales for managing stormwater.

WPC Greening - Point State Park Bioswale
WPC Greening - Point State Park Bioswale
WPC Greening - Point State Park Bioswale

The GCAC Centennial Celebration project partners included GCAC members, WPC , Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County. For more information, check out our Natural Stormwater Solutions page

Pittsburgh Redbud Project – Point State Park and Gateway Islands

The Pittsburgh Redbud Project was initiated in 2015 through a grant from Colcom Foundation to plant flowering redbud and other native trees on trails, hillsides and open spaces in downtown Pittsburgh in view of the city’s riverfronts.

Frank Dawson, a local landscape architect, conceptualized seeing delicate bursts of deep pink amongst the browns and grays of early spring along Pittsburgh’s three rivers. As of fall 2017, more than 5,500 native redbud and complementary species, including shrubs and other perennials, have been planted with the help of hundreds of volunteers to bring to life Frank’s original vision.

WPC Redbud Project - Downtown Pittsburgh Greening - Volunteers
WPC Redbud Project - Downtown Pittsburgh Greening
WPC Gardens - 2019

Redbuds are showy flowering trees and are among the first trees to bloom each spring. The buds appear on the bare stems before leaves. Some wildlife feed on redbud seeds and bees use the tree’s flowers for honey production. As part of the Pittsburgh Redbud Project, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy also planted evergreen trees and other native species to provide tree species diversity and encourage good tree health. Additional sites have been identified for more plantings in the future.

For More Information:

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project
800 Waterfront Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Alicia Wehrle
Community Forestry Project Coordinator