FUF’s Tree Care Program
After spending a couple of decades planting trees in San Francisco, FUF began to notice that not all trees were thriving as well as they could, thus the Tree Care Program was born in 1995
Our program prunes young trees to build a safer and healthier urban forest. We use Structural Pruning or Young Tree Training to encourage healthy structural growth which will minimize the need for expensive corrective pruning as the tree ages. Pruning when the tree is young is easier and cost effective for humans and better for the tree’s health as the tree has the ability to recover faster.
Each tree planted by us receives 2 – 3 Structural Pruning visits within the first three years the tree is in the ground. Trees need time to recover from the planting process so our first pruning visit will occur 12 to 18 months after it was planted. Trees need time to recover from pruning as well so the second visit will occur 12 to 18 months after that.
A tree is considered established after the 3 year pruning visit and at that point maintenance responsibility is transferred to the City.
What we do for FUF Trees?
- Prune over 3000 *young street trees per year (*less than 3 years old)
- Provide advice and resources on how to care for young trees
- Provide emergency hardware maintenance on trees under 5 years and under 15ft.
- Provide emergency tree care on damaged trees under 5 years and under 15ft.
Question Form FAQ Page Resources Page
All concerns related to trees older than 5 years or over 15ft need to be reported directly to the City. Friends of the Urban Forest can not work on trees over 15ft.
311 Tree Maintenance Request Form
StreetTreeSF to learn about City Tree Maintenance
Emergency Tree Care Services (ETC)
We are able to provide Emergency Tree Care services to trees under 5 years or less than 15ft.
These services include:
- replanting/restabilizing fallen trees
- emergency pruning to damaged branches
- emergency clearance pruning
- replacing damaged hardware
- health assessments due to disease or damage
Did we recently visit your tree?
Please fill out our Tree Care Survey to provide us with feedback. If would like to schedule an emergency tree care visit or have a general tree question, please contact our Tree Care Advice Line at (415) 268-0775 or email us. Please keep in mind that we are a nonprofit with limited admin support and spend most of our time in the field responding to calls and keeping up on our scheduled maintenance. We usually return calls or requests within about two weeks and appreciate your patience!
See tree emergency tips and how to prevent young tree emergencies here.
Supporting Our Efforts
Our staff and volunteer teams visit each tree at least three times during the critical first three years after it’s planted. The teams assess the health of the tree, ensure that its protective stakes and ties are sound, and prune it as needed.
On average it costs us about $100 to visit each tree as a part our Tree Care Program. As a nonprofit we get our funding from a variety of sources including grants and individual donations. If you would like to help offset some of these costs and support the many amazing programs we run at FUF, please consider making a tax deductible donation here.
Volunteering with Tree Care
Would you like to be a member of the FUF Tree Care crew? If you are interested in joining our volunteer tree care team in greening the city of San Francisco, we go out every Wednesday and Friday from 11am – 2pm and every other Saturday from 9:30am – 12:30pm.
We prune trees to help them grow healthy and strong in the urban environment. If this sounds like a good way to spend your day, please check out our upcoming Pruning Workshops on our website. We require that anyone who would like to prune with our team attend a pruning workshop before they are included on our weekly mailing lists to give them a rundown of our pruning style at FUF.
Once you have attended a Pruning Workshop, we can include you on the weekly mailing lists for any of those days (Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday). The mailings consist of a location and time that we will be meeting that week; that way you can decide if you have time or if it seems like a neighborhood you would like to prune some trees in.
See our Volunteer page to find out more.
Pruning after FUF
We only prune trees that were planted with Friends of the Urban Forest up to three years following planting. In 2016, San Francisco voters passed the Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalks initiative (Proposition E) to have the city take back responsibility for street tree maintenance and the repair of tree-related sidewalk damage. The resulting maintenance program, StreetTreeSF, went into effect in 2017. The city is first focusing on the most hazardous and unhealthy trees and will ramp up routine scheduled care after that. You can find more information about this program here. The program is managed by the Bureau of Urban Forestry (BUF), which is part of San Francisco Public Works. You can call them at (415) 554-6700 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to hire someone to prune a street tree adjacent to your residence, whether one time or in perpetuity (instead of having city arborists prune it), you must obtain permission from BUF. You will not be reimbursed by the city if you choose to hire an arborist on your own. You can find a list of arborist referrals on our website: www.fuf.net/arborist. You may want to shop around before deciding, as prices vary. We generally recommend that you have an arborist visit your tree every 3-5 years, depending on the growth rate of your tree.
Do not “top” your tree. Topping occurs when someone cuts back more than 25 percent of a tree’s canopy. Topping is illegal in San Francisco, and is punishable by a fine of at least $1,800 (Article 16, Sec. 811 of the Public Works Code) so please check with a certified arborist to ensure the pruning you are doing for your tree is legal. Street trees are a public asset, and belong to all San Franciscans. Click here for more information on tree topping.
Tree Care on Your Own
We have tips on all aspects of tree care including soil and mulch, watering, hardware maintenance, sidewalk and basin care, pruning, and common pests and diseases.