Learn How To Assess & Guidelines For Tree Watering During A Drought

Cover Trees Watering Guidelines

To help guide community tree watering efforts during a severe drought, the Urban Forest staff have created the following guide "How to Help Urban Trees Survive A Drought." The City of Santa Monica recommends a four-step approach to assessing whether your trees need supplemental watering. 

Please review the complete guide for expert input regarding these supplemental watering recommendations: young trees (less than 5 years since planted) and mature trees (more than 5 years since planted; "established"). You will learn how to assess trees and calculate the amount of water they need based on their size. Attached to the guide is also an Appendix of common trees found in Santa Monica. If your tree species is unknown, we recommend minimal supplemental watering. 

Why Water Trees?

The City of Santa Monica has over 33,000 street and park trees. A 2015 research study by the U.S. Forest Service calculated these trees annually deliver $5.1 million dollars worth of benefits to the community by cleaning the air, increasing property value, and reducing energy use among others.

Research has also shown that a good level of tree cover can increase property value from 6% to 9%. Drought directly threatens urban trees, as water is required for healthy growth and functioning. A lack of water causes high levels of stress, increases susceptibility to pathogen attack and can cause eventual death. 

Urban Forest Master Plan

The City of Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services Department and the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force are pleased to announce that the Urban Forest Master Plan has been unanimously approved by City Council at its meeting on December 13, 2011 with the amendment that Street Segment 120 – 21st St from Montana Ave to Wilshire Blvd not be inter-planted with Cercis occidentalis but have a palm for palm replacement. Prior to going to the City Council, the plan has been presented to the Planning, Landmarks and Recreation and Parks Commissions and the Task Force on the Environment with their comments incorporated into the plan where applicable. This long-awaited Master Plan will guide the perpetuation and management of Santa Monica’s urban forest over the next 50 years. The plan is a living document that will be evaluated and updated over time as new technologies and advancements in urban forestry become available.      

Copies of the staff report and the draft Master Plan are available at all branches of the Santa Monica Library and for review at the Public Landscape Division in Clover Park at 2600 Ocean Park Boulevard.  The Urban Forest Master Plan is the culmination of two years of community input and planning by the Task Force and we thank the many community members who participated in this process. 

Street Tree Removal Appeal

The Urban Forest Master Plan outlines a tree removal appeals process.  There are two types of appeals: 1. An appeal of a determination to remove a tree; or 2. An appeal of a determination that a tree cannot be removed- Exception Process. 

Click here for the Tree Removal Appeal Application

Tree Pruning Program & FY 2015-16 Tree Pruning Map

Santa Monica's tree pruning program encompasses all public trees citywide and the tree population is divided into four maintenance cycles: annual, 2-year, 3-year and 5-year. The fiscal year pruning map shows which trees and streets throughout the city will have planned tree maintenance between the dates July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016. Please note: proposed work may be subject to change. For more information about the program, please click here.  

FY15-16 Tree Pruning Map



Tree City

City of Santa Monica © 2015

Santa Monica Public Landscape Division, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | p: 310.458.8974