Mayor’s Office

City of Burlington Planting 360 New Trees This Year

April 25, 2019
Contact: Olivia LaVecchia
               (802) 734-0617


City of Burlington Planting 360 New Trees This Year

The City is more than doubling the number of street and park trees it will plant this year, in part as a response to emerald ash borer, and offering opportunities for community members to get involved


Burlington, VT – The City of Burlington is on track to plant 360 new trees this calendar year, more than doubling the number of street and park trees planted in previous years. These plantings will include 100 trees and more than 100 native shrubs along the northern section of the Burlington Bike Path; plantings in two neighborhoods with large populations of ash trees; and plantings in Wards 2, 3, and 8, which currently have the lowest percentage of canopy coverage in the City.

“Our urban canopy provides our City with shade, clean air, character, and joy, and our focus on increased tree planting now will benefit Burlingtonians for generations,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am grateful to our team of City arborists, led by V.J. Comai, for approaching this work with great passion and creativity, and finding ways to significantly expand the City’s capacity for planting more trees this year and in years ahead.”

“This work wouldn’t be possible without the City’s skilled crew of four full-time arborist technicians, who bring passion, skill, and experience to their work,” said V.J. Comai, City Arborist in the Department of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. “I’m appreciative of all of the support we get from this Administration and from City residents, who understand the value of our trees.”

As the City expands the number of new trees, it is also offering opportunities for community members to get involved, and the first volunteer day of the season is coming up on Saturday, April 27, in the Strathmore neighborhood in the New North End. This neighborhood’s street trees are almost entirely ash, and the City will be interplanting 15 other species of trees in order to establish new species in advance of the emerald ash borer’s impact on the City’s ash trees: Emerald ash borer was confirmed in Vermont for the first time in 2018, and is a threat to the City’s 1,249 ash trees, which comprise 11.3 percent of street and park trees. The City has been working to diversify its tree species, and the species in the new plantings include maple, linden, oak, river birch, serviceberry, and more.

Burlington was one of the first cities in the country to conduct a formal tree canopy assessment, and today, Burlington’s tree canopy is more extensive than that of many peer communities, with 42 percent of the City receiving tree canopy coverage. The most recent data show that the tree canopy has increased in recent years, and the City’s goal is to continue to expand this coverage. The City is currently updating its Urban Forest Master Plan in order to guide the health and longevity of its urban canopy, and will be organizing upcoming community outreach events to gather input on the plan.

The 360 trees that the City plans to plant in 2019 compare to 266 trees planted in 2018, 156 trees planted in 2017, and 141 trees planted in 2016. The City spent $19,600 on new trees in 2018, and has double that amount budgeted for new trees this year. Furthermore, these numbers reflect only the City's street and park trees. At the same time as the City is working to expand its street and park canopy, over the last four years, the City has partnered with a number of volunteers and organizations to plant more than 3,000 restoration trees -- younger trees in natural areas of the City -- in order to rehabilitate natural areas like 311 North Avenue, Oakledge Park, and McKenzie Park. The City plans to plant 1,300 more of these restoration trees in 2019.

The City is able to expand its tree planting capacity in part through creative solutions, including:

  • Recruiting volunteers for tree plantings, which helps the City both engage the community and plant significantly more trees.
  • Partnering with community members and organizations. One of these partnerships is with Branch Out Burlington, which works with the City at its tree nursery and through many programs and events. Another is with the University of Vermont, where students are helping the City identify all new available tree planting sites in the City greenbelts in Wards 2, 3, and 8, in order to help facilitate the City planting more trees in those neighborhoods.
  • Extending the months during which the City plants trees. Spring and fall are the best times for tree planting, and while the City focused its plantings during the spring months in past years, this year, the City plans to plant trees in the fall as well.
  • Planting “bare root” trees instead of “balled and burlap” trees. The City previously planted “balled and burlap” trees, which come with soil on their roots that can weigh as much as 250 pounds and require specialized equipment for planting. Now, the City is purchasing “bare root” trees, which don’t have soil on their roots, cost less, and can be picked up by one person. This allows the City to purchase more trees and engage the community in tree plantings. While “bare root” trees have to be planted more quickly than “balled and burlap trees” and therefore require additional planning, the City has carefully timed its planting schedule, and the “bare root” trees establish quickly and well.
  • Expanding the City’s tree nursery, in partnership with Branch Out Burlington and the UVM Horticultural Research Center, which allows the City to achieve savings in the cost of purchasing trees and also to engage more community members.
  • Implementing a tree inventory map system to better track tree data.
  • Finding efficiencies in the arborist team’s other work. For instance, the arborist team was able to finish its contract with the Burlington Electric Department one month earlier than it has in past years as a result of close coordination with BED, allowing the team to get an earlier start on spring pruning and planting.

Upcoming opportunities for the community to get engaged in tree planting efforts include:

Photo of Mayor Weinberger and City Arborist V.J. Comai planting a tree in the Strathmore neighborhood on April 25, 2019:Photo: Tree planting.


# # #

Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office