Urban Forestry

Falls Church values its urban forest, which provides a host of community benefits including beauty, clean air, temperature moderation, stormwater management and wildlife habitat. Managing the urban forest requires a balance between the needs of the trees and the needs of the people.


The City Arborist is responsible for managing all trees within the City, including policies and practices, together with the Green Space Manager, who provides the actual work operations and cares for all other plantings.
The City Arborist:
  • Manages City-owned trees and the risks associated with them
  • Reviews private development plan and permit applications
  • Leads the City in design and landscaping practice for the City's public spaces, facilities, and streetscape
  • Supports the Tree Commission in their responsibility to review and recommend urban forestry policies and practices
  • Communicates, educates, and sponsors outreach to citizens and businesses regarding the Urban Forest
  • Provides expertise in sustainable tree care practices and coordinates with City schools for local Arbor Day celebrations
  • Coordinates with concerned organizations and the business community to accomplish its mission

The Falls Church Approach to Urban Forestry

The City's primary urban forestry concern is trees on public property, including parks and street rights of way. Wherever possible, the City plants and maintains large trees, which provide greater environmental benefits than smaller trees. Damaged trees provide important habitat niches, so they are left standing where it is safe to do so. Aside from the Tree Commission, the Neighborhood Tree Program is our greatest ally, coordinating volunteers to plant trees twice a year.

City Code requires owners of commercial property always to maintain trees according to their approved site plans. Trees on residential property are regulated only within Resource Protection Areas and on development sites; properties with new or redeveloped homes are required to preserve or plant enough trees to provide 20% canopy cover within 10 years.

Tree Commission

The City's 5-member Tree Commission advises the Arborist and the City Council on policies, practices and regulations to ensure the health and future of the urban forest.

Tree Emergencies - Citizen Reporting

With the City's citizen reporting, you can report fallen trees on public property (streets, schools, parks) or those that may damage public property

Current & Future Projects

  • Tree Inventory: The City has recently revised its tree inventory data management, and is in the process of updating the records of all City-owned trees. An active tree inventory allows us to know where work is needed, where work has been done, and provides data on the forest and its condition.
  • Canopy Analysis: Software provided by the US Forest Service allows us to analyze the city's forest canopy coverage from readily-available satellite photos; this showed that our 2014 canopy cover city-wide was 46%. A professional analysis of Greater Fairfax using 2008 and 2011 data also showed Falls Church City having 46% cover.
  • Canopy Requirements on Commercial Properties: The Tree Commission is working with the Arborist to suggest alternative contributions to make up for the green space and tree canopy displaced by large commercial and mixed use developments.