A wooded lot is one that is mostly covered with trees. If your vacant lot is wooded, you’ve likely already considered the critical role the urban forest plays in community health by producing the oxygen we breathe, taking pollutants out of the air, preventing erosion, decreasing runoff, having a cooling effect, reducing traffic speed, increasing property values, increasing profits for adjacent businesses and improving safety for pedestrians
Tree Pittsburgh has established as a goal to achieve 60% tree canopy by 2032. By supporting healthy trees on your vacant lot, you can help them reach their goal. To see where your neighborhood or town stands among others, check out this tree cover data, click here.
1. If you plan to plant trees in the public right of way (on the sidewalk), you have three options in the City of Pittsburgh:
- The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s TreeVitalize program: This state funded programs gives communities support and supplies (including trees) for street, park, and riverfront plantings for communities throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny county.
- In order to apply for TreeVitalize, click here.
- Application through the City of Pittsburgh’s Forestry Department: Filing a Tree Planting Request Form will register your interest in receiving a tree adjacent to your property. The City will provide a lot analysis to make sure a tree fits your location, and will select an appropriate species.
2. Gather information about the trees on your lot. Check the following for each tree:
- What tree species are there? According to Tree Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh is home to 29,641 publicly managed street trees, including over 130 distinct species. Check out a tree identification book from the library or use one of the online tree guides like this. The most common types of trees in Pittsburgh include:
- Norway maple (Acer platanoides, 15.7%)
- Norway maple (Acer platanoides, 15.7%)
- Red maple (Acer rubrum, 11.4%)
- Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana, 11.3%)
- Little leaf linden (Tilia cordata, 10.9%)
- London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia, 8.6%)
- Do the trees show signs of disease or insect damage?
- Are there vines climbing up the trees?
- Are there dead branches that need to be removed?
3. Plant a tree on your own: In order to plant a tree in the City of Pittsburgh, you will need to apply for a tree planting permit. This is due to the fact that in Pittsburgh, the city right-of-way extends to the inner edge of the sidewalk, or beyond. You will need to determine what area falls under your jurisdiction. There is no cost for a tree planting permit. Once a tree planting is obtained, the city will provide a lot analysis to ensure a tree fits your location, and provide guidance concerning a species. Select a tree species to plant. The City Forestry Division has compiled a list of recommended tree species for Pittsburgh.
4. Fill out a Request for Permit- Tree Planting Form.
5. For specific resources on planting and caring for trees, check out Tree Pittsburgh’s Resource page.
- Removes pollutants from the air
- Prevents erosion and runoff
- Has a cooling effect
- Reduces traffic speeds
- Increases property value
- Increases profits for adjacent businesses
- Improves safety for pedestrians
Suitability and Considerations
The majority of vacant lots in Allegheny County are wooded lots. However, that does not mean that the lots have native trees or healthy trees. If you’re interested in working on a wooded vacant lot, it’s likely you either want to encourage a healthy forest ecosystem, improve the appearance of a lot, or do both. Consider how you will plan your work to achieve the goal you want.
In order to care for trees, you need some expertise. If you don’t feel your tree knowledge is up to par, have no fear. You can learn by volunteering with Tree Pittsburgh or attending their classes.
To create or maintain a wooded lot, the qualities of the vacant lot being used will have to be considered. Check out the lot assessment page to see how different aspects of the lot will affect how you work on it.
- Tree sapling