FAQs

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Take a look at our main menu options to find descriptions about our programs. Some “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) are answered below. Click the PLUS symbol to view the answer.

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Tree Planting and Care

When is the best time to plant a tree?

Trees Atlanta plants trees from October through March – cooler weather months.

While one can “technically” plant a tree anytime of the year, to give trees a higher chance of surviving and adapting to its new environment, planting during these cooler months is preferred and recommended. 

On the other hand, planting trees during warmer/hot months is possible, but it requires additional and frequent watering and care. Trees may struggle to establish as heat and drought conditions can be stressful for newly planted trees.

From April through September, we switch our focus to tree care and maintenance. Our Forest Restoration work continues year-round.

I'm concerned about the health of my tree. What should I do?

Before engaging in any tree work, it is prudent to seek advice from an ISA-certified arborist.

We recommend that a qualified tree expert be contacted to assess the health of your tree. Use good judgement before accepting any visual assessment of whether a tree “looks” healthy or not from individuals who are not specifically trained for tree care. See below for tips on hiring a qualified tree care company.

  • Review our Resource: How to Select an Arborist
  • Trees Atlanta does not perform tree inspections or provide tree services for private hire. Our work is centered on community (public) trees and organized through partnerships with cities, counties, and community groups.
  • Lawn care or landscaping companies are not necessarily tree care experts. We prefer those that have ISA-certified arborists on staff; ask for their certification number.
  • Georgia Arborist Association offers a directory of ISA-certified arborists.

 

Consulting Arborists and Tree Care Companies

As you research options for tree care, there are two types of services you may want to consider:

  • Consulting arborists can evaluate tree condition and health, as well as connect you with appropriate tree service companies. They can develop tree care plans, including strategic pruning, disease identification, and other remediation steps to ensure that trees thrive. Assessments of tree health or hazard can be conducted by a consulting arborist. Typically, consulting arborists do not do the work of removing trees (if that’s what is required) although they can refer you to other service providers.
  • Tree companies are not required to have any specialized training in Georgia, although many do hire and train professionals with proper credentials. Tree care, especially pruning and tree removal, can have significant impact on your trees and property. Before making this important investment, we recommed that you verify the company holds a valid business license and employees are ISA-Certified (to indicate proper training and relevant expertise), or hold other equivalent certification.

 

Preventative Care and Maintenance are Important 

The desirable solution to your concerns may include strategic pruning, treatment, and other approaches if a tree is in need of further care and maintenance. Tree removal may be avoided with proper care. A trained arborist will follow industry standards for tree care and abide by local tree protection ordinances, such as ensuring home owners have proper permits that are approved prior to tree removal.

Keep in mind that the homeowner (not the tree company) is subject to fees and fines if local ordinances are not followed.

Tip: Companies that offer to “top” or prune more than 25-50% of tree canopy may not be fully trained on proper tree care. Improper pruning of trees can lead to significant or irreversible damage to trees, including eventual death of the tree.

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A tree on the public right-of-way (ROW) needs to be pruned, who do I contact?

We plant trees on behalf of the City of Atlanta, and most street trees — or right-of-way (ROW) trees — are “public trees” that belong to the City of Atlanta (or the city or county where we have planted). We can help to address pruning needs for young trees Trees Atlanta has planted, but most pruning and tree care requests for mature trees should be sent to the City of Atlanta or your local jurisdication.

Street Trees Need Pruning

There are a few options you could pursue depending on which trees they are:

1. New trees planted by Trees Atlanta. After we plant new trees, Trees Atlanta will care for them for its first two years, including watering, mulching, and pruning. We may continue to prune new trees as needed for a few more years to ensure they have the best form to continue growing to maturity even in high traffic areas.

  • If you find a looped tag on a lower branch (tag will be numbered and labeled Trees Atlanta), it is one of our trees, but sometimes the tags fall off over time. 
  • If you think the trees have been planted by Trees Atlanta within the last 2 years or so, please submit your information here so that we can schedule a visit: Tree Care Request
  • Look up our Tree Inventory. All trees planted by Trees Atlanta in the last ten years (and some older) are found on this interactive map.

2. Trees on city-owned property. Most trees on public (city-owned) property, including parks and right-of-way planting strips near streets, are cared for by the City of Atlanta Department of Parks & Recreation (Office of Parks). If trees on city-owned property are in need of care or you would like to report an issue, please contact the city.

  • Office of Parks (Department of Parks & Recreation) – Call 404-546-6813 or email parkscustomerservice@atlantaga.gov
  • Alternatively, you may choose to report the issue via atl311.com or call 311. Using 311 creates a tracking number that you can reference for any follow up as necessary.

3. Trees on private property. If a tree is located in your yard or other residential/commercial property, it is the responsibility of the property owner to address their tree care issues. Here are some tips to help you find the right tree care professional:

  • How to Select an Arborist – Before engaging in any tree work, it is prudent to seek advice from an ISA-certified arborist. The desirable solution to your concerns may include strategic pruning, treatment, and other approaches if a tree is in need of further care and maintenance.

Improper Pruning Can Destroy a Tree

  • Tree removal may be avoided with proper care. A trained arborist will follow industry standards for tree care and abide by local tree protection ordinances, such as ensuring home owners have proper permits that are approved prior to tree removal or significant pruning. Keep in mind that the homeowner (not the tree company) is subject to fees and fines if local ordinances are not followed.
  • Keep in mind that removing more than 25% of the tree canopy is not typical and can cause permanent damage or destruction of the tree. More information on pruning mature trees is provided from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the association of tree care professionals.
  • If you suspect improper pruning that may lead to tree destruction, please document the action with photographs along with property address and tree service company name, as known. Immediately contact the Arborist Division.

Whose property is it anyway? In the City of Atlanta, this website provides a convenient way to look up the property owner where the tree is located: City of Atlanta Property Information

How do you decide where to plant or care for trees? What type of trees do you plant?

Site Selection

We determine planting sites based on a few factors: requests from homeowners and community members, areas with low tree canopy cover, locations with planting space for more trees, and partnerships with community groups, organizations, and businesses.

As part of our planning process, we connect with the community members and local leadership for their feedback, support, and/or approval, as well as obtain approval from local municipalities or partners as needed.

We prioritize community requests; the bulk of our plantings are initiated by these.

 

Species Selection

Many factors affect the types of trees we plant: available growth space, condition of the site (e.g.,, the volume of traffic, structures around, and soil conditions, etc.), intended use of site (e.g., providing shade, flowering beauty, edible fruit, etc.), what is available at our nurseries, tracking what has survived or died in the past, and what the neighborhood wants — this is community forestry after all!

Our goal is to select the right tree for the right placeWherever possible, we plant native canopy trees when conditions allow it as well as mid-story/understory trees where space is an issue. We plant non-native tree species if and when their selection is the most approprite or feasible. Our planting palette is continuously reviewed and adjusted.

Where do you get your trees from?

It’s important for us to select native species whenever possible, so it naturally makes sense the nurseries we purchase from would also be within our growing region. We source our trees from local and regional nurseries (mainly in Georgia, but also Florida and Tennessee) that sell wholesale to us. 

Wholesalers typically do not sell directly to consumers.

In the Atlanta, there are several local merchants who carry good selections of native tree and plant species. When searching for local nurseries, include the keyword “native plant” or “native species”.

Landscape architects, garden designers, and landscape care companies that specialize in using native plants can also help source native species of trees and plants. As part of your hiring process, we recommend specifically discussing plant selection, whether and how chemicals will be used, and your priorities to create a healthy ecosystem. By shopping carefully, you can find native species in large retail nurseries, too. If you don’t, let the store know you are looking for more native species options: hearing their customers’ preferences can affect inventory choices.

Can I purchase (or get) trees from Trees Atlanta?

Yes! There are a few opportunities to purchase or receive trees from Trees Atlanta throughout the year.

The right time to plant trees is during cooler months. If it’s currently between the months of April through September in Atlanta, use this time to plan your selection and planting locations. Wait to plant in cooler months to decrease stress on young trees. We plant trees from October to March. 

  • Trees Atlanta Annual Tree Sale starts in September (online preorder) and the in-person sale is early October. 
  • Our Native Plant Sale is in the Spring. Online preorder begins in March, and the in-person sale is in early April. We offer many woody plants, including an amazing selection of native azaleas, and some trees at the Plant Sale, but the fall Tree Sale offers the best selections and quantities for trees.

Other ways to receive trees from Trees Atlanta are free!

  • Seedling Giveaway celebrating Georgia Arbor Day! Our state celebrates Arbor Day on the 3rd Friday of February, and Trees Atlanta is glad to distribute free bareroot tree seedlings to the public each year. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to keep up with our education, volunteer, and community events throughout the year.
  • You may qualify for a free FRONT yard tree if you live in specific cities/county that participate in our Front Yard Tree program. You must be a resident of the participating cities/county in order to qualify, and limited supplies are available for each jurisdiction.
  • Organize a street tree planting project and get more trees added to your neighborhood! If your community needs more trees in public right-of-ways (street side) or in nearby city parks, submit a request for tree planting

How do I get a dead tree replaced?

Is my tree dead?

Young Trees

Test a branch or the trunk by scratching it with your fingernail. If you see green underneath, the tree is alive!

Newly planted trees can be stressed from the shock of transplanting from pot to a new location, the weather, a lack of watering, etc. If the trees has been planted properly, your tree is not necessarily dead. It may take a season or more for the tree to recover. Water new trees regularly, especially if there has been no rain more than a couple of weeks during warm seasons and mulch a ring around the base of the tree.

If your scratch test reveals brown or brittle branches, starting from an upper branch and keep scratching lower on the limb or down the trunk until you see green. Cut above the green and preserve new growth. Take care as you prune young trees to preserve proper form and ensure structural strength as the tree growns. Read our online Resource: How to Care for Your Trees

Large Mature Trees

Trees that are well established and large require specilized attention from a trained arborist. Visual signs such as bare branches or large wounds or cavities in the trunk can indicate distress, but are not necessarily signs the tree is dead. Limbs may periodically drop, and causes vary by species. Strategic pruning, proper care, and/or prescriptive tree care can improve tree health or manage risk. Read our online Resource: How to Select an Arborist

Trees that are covered in vines, such as kudzu or English ivy, are not dead… yet. Aggressive overgrowth of treetops by invasive vines can create unhealthy scenarios, such as lack of sunlight, excessive weight from wind or water, that can kill trees over time or cause them to fall. Make sure you remove climbing invasive vines off your trees! Read our online Resource: Atlanta’s Top Invasive Plants (A to Z) Expanded List

How do I report a damaged or dead tree? 

Reporting Dead Trees

Although ​Trees Atlanta leads tree planting and care projects​ throughout the metro Atlanta area, we do not own the property​ nor any tree​. Trees along streets are typically “public trees” and maintained by the city. 

  • EXCEPTION: If a NEW tree that was recently planted by Trees Atlanta is damaged, dead, or requires attention, we will address tree care needs while the tree is establishing (generally, in its first few years). Trees planted by Trees Atlanta will typically have a inventory “ring” around one of its lower branches.
  • Report tree care request for new trees planted by Trees Atlanta: Tree Care Request

Mature (big) Trees

The owner of the tree is the owner of the land in which the tree trunk is located. Dead or downed trees should be reported to the land owner. ​

  • Public property. Is this tree on the margin between the street and sidewalk? The tree is probably on city property if it is. In the City of Atlanta, all trees in public/city property are managed by the Department of Parks & Recreation (Office of Parks). Call 404-546-6813 or email parkscustomerservice@atlantaga.gov
  • Private property. If the tree is/was growing in someone’s yard (or other private property), the owner of that property should be contacted. Issues regarding improper or illegal removal or damage to trees should be reported to the Arborist Division (Department of City Planning). Call 404-330-6874 or email arborist.dpcd@atlantaga.gov

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A street tree was damaged/destroyed. Can Trees Atlanta replace it?

When a mature street tree needs to be removed and replaced, the request must be submitted to the Department of Parks & Recreation, Office of Parks (for City of Atlanta). Trees in public spaces (i.e., street trees, park trees, etc.) are the property of the city. Trees Atlanta is only able to plant or care for trees in locations approved by the city. We are not able to remove damaged or dead trees.

What this means for your request is:

  1. First, report the damaged tree so that a City Arborist can examine it and put it on the schedule for care or removal. All trees in public/city property are managed by the Department of Parks & Recreation (Office of Parks). Call 404-546-6813 or email parkscustomerservice@atlantaga.gov
  1. After the City removes the damaged/dead tree, a stump may remain. Stump grinding is necessary if the tree is large and the roots are not easily removed.
  1. After stump grinding, before a new tree can be replanted in the same spot, we recommend that at least 2 or more years pass so that the remaining plant matter can decompose and can be considered as a potential spot for replanting.
  1. Alternatively, if the area on the street has open space nearby, we can consider placing the new tree in a different spot.

If you have not done so yet, please report the damaged tree. Please also request a new tree planting through Trees Atlanta’s neighborhood tree planting program

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Where do I find information about the City of Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance?

The city posts all current information and documents related to the Tree Protection Ordinance (TPO) on its website under the Department of City Planning, Arborist Division.

Trees Atlanta has also created a Resource page “How to Save a Tree” which you might find helpful.

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How do I find the Recommended Tree List and Undesirable Trees (Atlanta)?

We plant according to the simple guidance of “Right Tree for the Right Place“.

What this means is that we prioritize native tree species for our growing region. Not every species is right for any space. As we plant most of our trees in very challenging street side margins, our selections are frequently restricted by several considerations: mature size, shape, and watering and sun needs limit which trees are “right” for right-of-ways. However, if you are planting in your yard or other places with more space and different conditions, your options are abundant!

Here are a few lists that might be good reference as you select your replacement trees:

May we also recommend taking a walk along the Atlanta BeltLine? The planted spaces that parallel the trail are part of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum. An arboretum is a botanical garden focused on trees and woody plant species, and this arboretum is open to the pubic and free to enjoy! The Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum is planted and maintained by Trees Atlanta. The trees in the Arboretum are mostly native, but non-invasive non-native species are also included to demonstrate a variety of species that are beautiful, ecologically appropriate, and recommended for our growing region and specifically for the conditions of various places along the trail. Look for markers at the base of the trees that provide tree identification in both “common name” and its botanical scientific name. When shopping, we strongly recommend referencing the scientific name as “common names” are not consistent.

If you are replacing trees as a requiremement in the City of Atlanta, there is a list of trees that are prohibited. 

What do I do if I think a tree is being removed illegally without a permit?

In the city of Atlanta, trees larger than 6″ DBH (diameter at breast height) or pine trees larger than 12″ DBH must be permitted prior to removal. This applies to healthy trees or trees that are DDH (dead, dying, or hazardous). There is slight different procedure for permitting depending on the tree health and whether the tree is standing on private or public land.

Read How to Save a Tree in our Resources section, including: What do I do if I see trees being removed?

Volunteer

What types of volunteer opportunities do you offer?

We offer several types of volunteer opportunities to suit various levels of interest, skills, and abilities. Most of our volunteer projects require outdoor, physical work; however, there are many volunteer opportunties for those who can assist in office and administrative support, assist setting up or helping at events, and other creative ways including taking photos, welcoming guests, or other ways your unique talent can help us deliver our mission.

There are Volunteer Pathways to acquire advanced skills in a variety of functions, including becoming a Certified Volunteer. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities here.

How do I sign up to volunteer?

Start by completing the new volunteer form here. Once your application is submitted, you’ll be able to register for individual volunteer opportunities through our web calendar.

Can my child sign up to volunteer?

Yes. Take note of requirements for volunteers younger than 18-years-old:

  • Individuals aged 16- and 17-years-old who participate on their own must have a parent or guardian sign our liability waiver on their behalf and bring it with them to the project.
  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire duration of the event.
  • If the child requires a record of their attendance (e.g., for school records, etc.), the chaperoning adult and the child should be registered under their own names individually as separate registrations.

Based on the type of project, here are some recommended age limits for parent or guardians to safely chaperone younger volunteers:

  • Tree planting and meadow plantings: All ages (children must be supervised at all times, particularly near roadways and tools)
  • Tree care and forest restoration projects: 12 and up (may include use of cutting tools)

Adults who wish to volunteer with very small children may consider opportunities with our education team. Education events require volunteers, including storytime reading, family time activities, arts and craft, and other events.

 

Can I bring my pet to a volunteer project?

For the safety of all attendees, we do not allow pets at Trees Atlanta volunteer projects.

Can I get my community service hours verified?

Yes. View our Volunteer page for more information.

Events

Where do I find out about upcoming events with Trees Atlanta?

Upcoming events are posted to our website calendar here.

You can also stay up-to-date on upcoming events by following us on social media or signing up for our monthly email newsletters.

I need more information about an Education event I registered for. Who do I contact?

Please reach out to education@treesatlanta.org

Check your event registration confirmation email. A contact name and email will be included in the email.

Donations and Charitable Gifts

I want to get a tree planted in honor of someone. Do you offer this service?

Tribute Trees

Yes. We offer a variety of packages to plant a tree in someone’s honor. Learn more about Tribute Trees here.

 

Are my donations tax-deductible? What is Trees Atlanta's tax ID?

Trees Atlanta is recognized as a charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to organizations with 501(c)(3) status may be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor to determine deductibility of your contribution.

Transactions processed by Trees Atlanta are recorded with a digital or printed receipt and/or letter of acknowledgement. Please retain a copy of the transaction for your record.

Tax ID/EIN: 58-1584758

Trees Atlanta has been reviewed and certified as a 4-star organization by Charity Navigator each year since 2014. The 4-star rating is its top grade for accountable, transparent, and financially healthy nonprofits.

Where do you get your funding from?

Our funding comes from a variety of sources including individual and corporate donations, grants, municipal contracts, and fundraisers, including our Native Plant Sale, Annual Tree Sale, and Root Ball.  View our Financial Documents and Reports.

Trees Atlanta’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned 4-star ratings (“Exceptional”) from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. View our rating.

How do I donate to Trees Atlanta?

To donate online, please select the option that best fits your gift: here.

To mail or drop off your donation, our office address, hours, and map are found here: mailing address

General

Will you take a small tree growing in my yard that I want to donate?

Thanks for considering this, but due to the specifications that most cities require of us, we cannot accept this tree donation. Trees Atlanta does not accept trees or seedlings as donations.

Although Trees Atlanta cannot take these trees, perhaps these tips can help.

  • Consider offering them to neighbors or friends. It’s nice to be able to visit your living gift for years to come!
  • Some community gardens or groups organize “plant swaps”. You may find these types of plant donations exactly what they are looking for!
  • Some new trees can grow as suckers from the base or root of trees. When removing these new trees, take care to minimize damage to the root of the host tree. Plant the suckers in pots until they establish, then replant.
  • Wait until fall or winter to move your tree if you can. Moving trees while they are dormant can increase their chance of survival.
  • Before digging, research at what size and whether the particular species likes to be moved (some don’t, like most nut trees). Others have tap roots that greatly decrease the likelihood of a successful move.
  • Do keep in mind that larger trees with established root systems can be very difficult (or impossible) to move without heavy machinery. Consult a tree company if you have a larger cherished tree that you wish to move and preserve.

Lastly, keep in mind that trees over a certain size typically cannot be removed (destroyed) without an approved permit from your local jurisdiction. For example, in the City of Atlanta, trees 6” diameter at breast height (DBH) and 12″ DBH for pines or larger require a tree removal permit prior to destruction.

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What’s a ball and burlap tree?

Most trees sold by nurseries are grown in pots to a certain size then sold. The size of the pot refers to the size of the tree. For example, you may hear of a tree being referred to as a “15-gallon tree.” Some trees are grown to a larger size and are too big to be transported in pots. These trees are grown in the ground, dug up with special heavy machinery, and shipped with roots intact wrapped in burlap. These are called “ball and burlap” or “B&B” trees. 

It’s a misconception that a ball and burlap (B&B) tree is better than planting a young tree. Although installing a B&B tree provides immediate size impact, after 3 to 5 years for most species we plant, there is no meaningful difference in tree size from those planted as young saplings. This is mostly due to the fact that once younger trees establish in place, they typically grow more rapidly. They can catch up in size to B&B trees planted at the same time. 

Larger trees in B&B get stressed during removal and installation, as well as need more attention while establishing in place. Heavy machinery is required to install B&Bs (due to weight and size), whereas potted trees can be planted by hand. Other than for large-scale plantings on a construction site, it’s typically less economically sensible to plant ball and burlap because there is little or no long term advantage. 

Why are B&B trees used? Typically, they are used for immediate visual impact or are placed in locations where smaller trees are exposed to high risk of damage.

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For additional questions, please email us at info@treesatlanta.org.