Why are street trees important?

In addition to their natural beauty, trees benefit the community in many ways. Trees help to clean the air, reducing pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and Ozone. A tree canopy helps reduce the heat of Summer. Trees planted near homes help to reduce energy costs by providing shade in the summer and blocking winds in the winter. Trees help to maintain a habitat for birds, animals and insects.

How do I know if a tree is within the Borough’s right-of-way?

Trees are considered “street trees” for Borough purposes when they fall within the right-of-way lines of Borough streets.  A standard Borough street consists of a 25-foot wide, paved roadway with a sidewalk strip 12 ½ feet wide on either side.

The best way to know whether a tree is within that right of way is to measure 25’ from the street’s centerline across the curbstrip and sidewalk. Shade trees within that 25’ cross section are considered street trees. If in doubt, call Borough Hall and a member of the street tree committee can confirm whether your tree is within the official right of way.  

Who cares for a street tree?*

The property owner is responsible for the proper care and (maintenance) of a street tree. See care guidelines below.

Can I remove a street tree if I do not want it there? A street tree cannot be removed without Borough permission. A property owner who wishes to remove a healthy street tree must first receive permission from the Borough. If permission is granted, the property owner bears the entire cost for the removal and a replacement tree must be planted with approval from the Tree Committee. The Borough may deny permission to have a Street tree removed.

How do I remove a dead, unsafe, or dying street tree? The Borough may remove a street tree if it is deemed by the Tree Committee to be dead, unsafe or declining condition. The Borough Will remove the tree and replace it with a new street tree for a reduced fee to the property owner. A street tree may not be removed without a replacement tree being planted.

Who pays for removing a tree deemed dead, unsafe, or dying? The homeowner is responsible for 70% of the removal cost and the Borough is responsible for 30% of the removal cost. The homeowner is responsible for the cost of a replacement tree which is billed at the same time as removal. The Borough works with area  tree experts to address the issues with tree safety issues.

Who do I contact about the condition of my street tree? Contact the Borough Hall office and a member of the Tree Committee will be sent to examine the tree.

How do I get a new street tree? The tree committee generally holds two sales of street trees each year, in the late winter and late summer. These trees are sold at a reasonable price and are planted by the Borough. A variety of trees are offered each sale in order to maintain a healthy, diverse tree Canopy.

What if I want a street tree not offered by the Tree Committee? Street trees not planted by the Borough must be approved by the Tree Committee to ensure tree species is appropriate to street conditions. The property owner must bear the entire cost of tree purchase and planting.

How do I choose the best  location for a new street tree?

 A decision about locating a new street tree must take into consideration several factors. These include: overhead wires, sidewalks, mature tree size and site lines along streets. If in doubt, a member of the Tree Committee can help determine the best location for a new Street tree.

How do I care for my new street tree?

Street Tree Planting and Care Guidelines

How can I help?

Contact the Tree Committee chair to learn about volunteer and other opportunities to promote street trees in Swarthmore.

Still have questions?  

E/mail the Tree Committee chair who will direct your question to the most knowledgeable committee member. You may also call Borough Hall and leave a message.