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Do you have room for a new tree? Being A Smart Ash means planting new trees to help grow and expand Denver’s beloved urban canopy.

Denver Parks & Recreation wants to help you plant a tree! If you have room in the public right-of-way adjacent to your property, you may even be eligible to have a free tree planted for you!

Is there room in your right-of-way for a free tree?

  • There must be adequate space in your right-of-way to request a free tree. That space must be:
  • 30 feet from the outside edge of intersecting curbs, to preserve the sight triangle (see corresponding photo).
  • 35 feet from large shade trees.
  • 25 feet from ornamental trees.
  • 20 feet from street lights.
  • 20 feet from stop signs.
  • 10 feet from alleys, driveways and fire hydrants.
  • 7 feet behind attached sidewalks.
  • 5 feet from water meters/pits.
  • Centered within tree lawns/planters.

Free tree application process:

  1. Submit your request.
  2. Within a couple weeks, we process your request and let you know that we got it.
  3. We have your underground utilities marked.
  4. Our arborist will stop by to check out the site, mark where a tree can be planted and make a recommendation for what non-ash tree will thrive in the spot.
  5. Your tree is delivered and planted.
  6. We will be in touch to give you advice on the  short-term and long-term care of the new tree

At every step of the process, we will be in touch to let you know what is happening.

These are typical right-of-way layouts in Denver

Public Right-of-Way

Frequently asked questions

How big are the trees?

The trees are typically 1.5- to 2-inch caliper trees that stand about 8 feet tall. They can be a little bigger or smaller depending on what our nurseries have available.

Why do you have to mark the utilities?

Because it’s the law! The law requires us to have the utilities marked before digging. There are a lot of modernizations happening in Denver; for example, fiber optic cable may have been installed in the right-of-way without you even noticing. Plus, we would hate to cut your cable right when you were planning to binge watch your favorite show!

What type of tree will I get?

The type of tree we recommend will depend on the conditions at the property, as well as what we have available in our inventory at that time. We try to plant large shade trees as spacing allows. Common examples of tree species we plant include hackberry, elm, Kentucky coffee, oak and catalpa. They’re all beautiful, and they’re all trees, so you really can’t go wrong.

When will I know if I’m getting a tree?

After we visit your property, we will notify you via email or phone if you have been approved for a tree. We will mark planting locations with white flags, and the curb with white spray paint. We site many properties at once, so please allow at least two weeks after the initial marking of utilities to hear from us. It’s worth the wait!

Do I need to be home when the tree is planted?

Nope! You do not need to be home when the tree is planted, but please make plans to water the tree every day for the first two weeks after installation.

I’m going out of town. Will you water the tree for me?

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to water the tree for you. We water the tree once, upon installation. Once planted, the maintenance responsibility then falls on you—the property owner or tenant. We all have to work together to care for our new trees! If possible, consider asking a neighbor or friend if they’re able to water while you’re gone. If you’re unable to find someone to water the tree daily during the first two weeks, or you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, please let us know immediately so we can reschedule your planting to another time that works better for you and your new tree.

My previous Be A Smart Ash tree died. Can I get a replacement?

We do offer replacement trees. In most circumstances, we will provide one replacement tree, as we know that establishing urban trees in our semi-arid city can be difficult. However, we do aim to provide this service to as many residents as possible, so replacement is not guaranteed due to limited quantity.

Can the tree be planted in my yard?

Unfortunately, no. The trees are a public amenity and must be planted in your right-of-way. Our friends over at The Park People are a great resource if you are interested in planting in your yard. Denver residents can apply for free or low-cost street and yard trees through The Park People’s Denver Digs Trees program.