Philadelphia Guide

Tree Guards - Philadelphia

tree planting park trees by property owners - public right property owner

Like many other cities, the street trees in Philadelphia are overseen by the Parks and Recreation Department. You can find out more information about street trees, their benefits, information about planting new street trees and general care suggestions by visiting their website

In addition, TreePhilly is an initiative of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation department. TreePhilly’s goal is to help ensure all neighborhoods in Philadelphia have at least a 30% tree canopy. Most Parks Departments, or other such organizations around the country focus only on trees on public land, such as street trees and parks; TreePhilly, however, also focuses on planting and preserving trees on private land as well, such as people’s backyards. For more information about the care of street and yard trees, and even how to apply for grants and free trees, visit

Although Philadelphia does not have published street tree guard or surround regulations and requirements, we strongly urge you to NOT:

  • Protect your trees with flat metal tree grates. These do not protect the tree’s trunk, trap litter, girdle (choke) the tree and also cause a tripping hazard as the roots expand.
  • Use a guard with sharp metal points or edges.
  • Close off the bottom of your tree guard or surround itso rain water can freely flow into the tree pit.
  • Have your guard too close to the street, so car doors can not freely open and limit potential damage to your guard. A 12 to 18 inch set back is suggested.
  • Install guards that are too short or too tall. Too short can be a tripping hazard and too tall can girdle (choke) the tree.
  • Use flimsy material for your surround. Flimsy material can be thrifty, but is not effective over time. Tree guards can protect trees and make your trees more beautiful, as long as they are designed correctly with the health of the trees and safety of pedestrians in mind.

We always try to keep our information as up to date as possible – but if we have missed something, please let us know (contact us at, as we are happy to update this page as needed. The better informed we all are, the better it is for the street trees and your community.

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