About the Somerville Parks Tree Health Program

In March of 2020, the City implemented a proactive Parks Tree Health Program. It focused on Somerville-owned parks and delivering the best arboreal practices to promote healthy tree growth. Each year, four to seven parks will cycle through this program. This program is designed to go beyond routine maintenance and to put parks on a six-year health maintenance cycle.

The program involves 1) the completion of a comprehensive health assessment of the trees in each park by a certified arborist, 2) a work plan for proactively maintaining those trees, 3) the execution of that work, as well as long term maintenance recommendations.

A health assessment includes:

  • General conditions: describes the conditions in which the trees are growing and identifies unique challenges and/or opportunities
  • Soil health: examines compaction, tests soil for PH and macronutrient levels
  • Pest treatment: looks for evidence of any pests, harmful fungi or disease on trees
  • Other correction of adverse conditions: records conditions such as girdling roots, evidence of storm damage, structural abnormalities, or other observed conditions or vulnerabilities
  • Pruning: identifies pruning needs for tree health, proper branch structure, safety, visual and structural clearance
  • Removal: identifies trees that require removal because they are dying, diseased, considered a hazard or some other hazardous condition. All of these trees have been assessed by the City Inventory, the consulting arborist for the Parks Tree Health Program and verified by the City’s Urban Foresters. Although a tree may have some buds or leaves on it, and may be large, old and beloved, if a tree is dead beyond recovery, it has reached the end of its life cycle.

Maintenance work will be guided by the assessment of each park. Parks may be temporarily closed during maintenance.

Proactive maintenance extends the life cycle of the urban forest; and, therefore its “ecoservices benefits”, which include stormwater absorption, providing shade and habitat as well as carbon sequestration. It also protects the City against liability caused by hazard trees and assures the safety of park users. This year in the second iteration of the Parks Tree Health Program, 151 trees throughout 7 parks will be assessed and have their maintenance needs attended to.

2021 Park Health Assessments

2020 Park Health Assessments

Tree maintenance in progress: canopy cleaning, safety clearance, structural pruning, root pruning, hazard removal