San Diego’s plan to add more trees to the city

The city plans to add 100,000 trees and nearly triple its tree coverage by 2035.

Palm trees lining the streets in San Diego

You can always count on a palm tree to throw shade.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

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Can you be-leaf it? There are an estimated 300,000 trees in the City of San Diego alone, and 500+ species.

Based on the city’s ongoing inventory assessment, trees cover ~13% of city land, but there’s a growing effort to plant more and eventually cover 35% of San Diego.

Climate Action Plan

When the city adopted its Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2022, it vowed to increase the local tree canopy, recognizing the important roles trees play in providing shade, reducing energy costs, and absorbing carbon dioxide emissions. The plan set two benchmarks:

  • 40,000 new trees, covering 28% of the city, by 2030
  • 100,000 new trees, covering 35%, by 2035

To do this, the city will use data from its inventory survey and Street Tree Selection Guide to identify where trees should be planted and the species that are most compatible with planting locations.

Trees near Cabrillo bridge

There are plenty of trees in and around Balboa Park.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Thinking green

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it can help grow trees. San Diego recently received $10 million in federal funds to enhance the city’s urban forest, and Mayor Todd Gloria said this funding will be put toward the 2035 CAP goal.

Specifically, this grant is estimated to plant and preserve 8,400 trees, with an emphasis on underserved communities. To reach the city’s long-term goals, it will continue funding planting efforts, as outlined in its Climate Action Implementation Plan draft. Additionally, SDG&E has pledged to contribute 2,500+ trees.

Branch out and help

Want to help San Diego grow? City residents can apply for the Free Tree SD program to have a tree planted in their community, and they’ll be responsible for watering that tree for three years. Or, locals can apply for a No Fee Street Tree Permit if they have a tree they’d like to plant on their street.

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