ReLeaf Syracuse

ReLeaf Syracuse Logo

ReLeaf Syracuse is an informal collaboration of partners striving to increase tree canopy and create a culture of tree stewardship in Syracuse. The initiative is led by the Syracuse Parks Department and includes other Departments, local government agencies and stakeholders representing community organizations, neighborhoods and businesses.


Learn More

ReLeaf Syracuse was formed in 1998 to bring together stakeholders of the urban forest to help the city respond to the catastrophic tree loss caused by the Labor Day Storm of 1998. Their initial task was to develop Syracuse’s first comprehensive urban forest master plan. The committee of citizens, city officials and tree experts disbanded in 2002 following the completion of the master plan.

In 2019, ReLeaf reconvened to provide guidance to the city on how to get community input on the creation of Syracuse’s Urban Forest Master Plan. Led by the Onondaga Earth Corps, the public input process garnered over 1,500 responses via a survey and 10 public meetings, on a variety of tree issues throughout 2019. The results of the public input process can be found here: ReLeaf Syracuse Outreach Summary(PDF, 1MB)

The resulting Syracuse Urban Forest Master Plan(PDF, 51MB) was released in January 2020 adopted by Syracuse Common Council in April 2022 with a primary goal to increase tree canopy by 7% in an equitable fashion over a 20-year period.



Sidewalks & Trees

Under the Municipal Sidewalk Maintenance Program (MSP), the City takes responsibility for sidewalks with a databased planned maintenance program. This program impacts existing and future trees planted along streets in the city-owned right-of-way.

  • Some trees may be required to be removed as part of the sidewalk replacement. These are commonly due to location, structural defects, and planned impact to the tree from construction and root cutting.
  • Trees will be planted in the city-owned right-of-way following installation of new sidewalk. Sites where a large tree will be planted will receive additional underground infrastructure improvements (CU Structural Soil) to improve growing conditions and minimize impact to the built environment. 


Tree Planting

Street Trees

Syracuse Forestry Division plants trees in the in the city-owned public right-of-way, typically between the curb and sidewalk. Trees will receive establishment watering and care their first year. Structural pruning and lifelong maintenance are guaranteed for all street trees.

Where will we plant trees?

Planting locations and tree species are selected for the space and surrounding conditions, taking into account any above and below ground utilities and other infrastructure to ensure a positive experience and future for you and the tree. A week or two before planting you may see painted lines on the curb marking the planting location and any utilities present.

Why are we planting trees?

Street trees provide shade, cooling, reduced air and noise pollution, storm water absorption, create more walkable neighborhoods, slow traffic speeds, aid in stress reduction, and provide beauty for our community.

 Request a Street Tree

Yard Trees

Sign up for a free tree to plant in your yard! Property owners in the City of Syracuse are eligible to receive free trees to plant on their private property.  A variety of tree species are available including native, edible, flowering, and both large and small trees to fit your yard.

Trees provide essential services for all Syracuse residents. Planting trees in yards keeps us and our homes cool during the heat of summer and helps collect stormwater in rainy seasons. With 60% of Syracuse's tree canopy space on private property, you are an important part of Syracuse’s goal to plant 70,000 trees by 2042.

Giveaway events where you can pick up your free yard trees take place each fall and spring. Complete the 2024 Free Yard Tree Interest Form below and someone from our Forestry Division will contact you as we get closer to our fall planting season. Note: Completing the interest form does not guarantee a free tree. Thank you for your interest in helping us restore our urban canopy.  

Private Planting Recommendations

Natural Areas

Natural Areas

Natural areas in our city parks are an important piece of our community’s ecosystem, providing habitat to wildlife and plants not found elsewhere. Management of these unique spaces is necessary to minimize invasive species and promote growth of desirable understory plants.

Syracuse’ Master Plan identified a strong community desire for increased access to forageable trees and plants. In partnership with Onondaga Earth Corps and the Syracuse Urban Food Forest Project (SUFFP), existing natural park areas have been converted from broad patches of invasive overgrowth to sustainable plantings of harvestable trees and shrubs.

Current Project Locations

  • Schiller Park
  • Elmwood Park
  • Creekwalk



Arbor Day

Arbor Day

Did you know Syracuse celebrates Arbor Day in October? Each year, City Forestry works with a classroom to engage students in planting trees at their school. These young stewards of the urban forest learn about Syracuse’ trees and work alongside young adults from Onondaga Earth Corps to create a greener campus.