Planting trees on the highway

We, Surrey County Council, have committed to facilitate the planting of 1.2 million trees by 2030, one for every Surrey resident.

This page explains how residents and organisations can apply for trees to be planted outside their own property or on local areas of large highway verge.

Full details can be found on Appendix 4 of Surrey's new tree strategy 2020.

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Who can apply to plant trees?

Any resident or organisation within Surrey can apply for trees to be planted outside their own property or on local areas of large highway verge.

Applicants will need to have consulted adjacent properties, if there any within the proposed planting location.

What are the costs?

As part of our initial assessment of each application, we will confirm whether we are able to fund the tree planting, or if this will need to be funded privately.

If all the criteria are met, we would intend to provide and plant the tree using an approved Surrey County Council contractor.

Criteria for tree planting

We will endeavour to respond positively to tree planting requests, and each request will be considered on its merits.

If you can say 'yes' to the following questions, it is highly likely that your application will be accepted. If not, we would advise against proceeding with your application as the likelihood is that it will be rejected:

  • Are you happy to assist by watering the tree during dry periods for up to 3 years?
  • Can you provide a precise location plan where you'd like the tree to be planted?
  • Are you sure that no adjacent properties (not owned by yourself) will be impacted by any new trees as they grow?
  • Have you consulted your neighbour/adjacent property owners and are they in agreement with the plan?
  • Is there a minimum of 1.1 metres of grass verge to provide adequate space for the tree to be planted and to have space to grow and thrive? This must be measured from the inside edge of the kerb to the inside edge of the pavement.
  • Has a further 1.6m clear width been accounted for on the pavement to ensure pedestrians can pass safely?
  • Is the nearest street light more than 5 metres away?
  • Are you certain that once the tree matures, there is no risk of reaching any overhead cables?
  • Are you aware that the request may be rejected if a scanner finds cables/pipes underground?
  • Are you certain that the tree will not block sight lines at bends or junctions, or block the view of the traffic signals or signs, as it grows?

What are the terms and conditions?

There are a number of conditions that must be agreed by the applicant. Please ensure you agree with the below conditions before submitting your application;

  • You have read and understood the criteria for tree planting and appendix 4 of Surrey's new tree strategy 2020
  • Accept that the tree will be managed to highway standards as it matures, which is aimed at minimum intervention. Pruning will only take place if necessary to reduce risk of harm being caused to the highway users due to hazards or obstruction
  • Agree the location of the tree with our Highways Environmental Engineer who will confirm the location is suitable for planting or propose an alternative, if available
  • Agree the species with the county council's Arboricultural specialist, prior to agreeing to plant a particular tree for the customer

How do I apply?

Please apply using our online form:

Apply to plant a tree

What happens next

When we receive your application, the location will be assessed by an Officer who is familiar with the area, and will be looking at the proposed size and species (if you have requested a specific one). They will discuss funding and aftercare of the tree with you. We aim to carry out the initial assessment within 28 days.

When will the tree be planted?

Requests for tree planting can be accepted at any time of the year, however trees will normally be planted between November and March.

Common tree orders need to be placed with the tree supplier by February, the year of planting, in order to secure those trees for that year. Please therefore ensure that applications are submitted well in advance, to enable us to carry out assessments.

Specific trees may require 2 to 3 years notice, in order that a nursery can grow and develop them to a suitable size.

Who actually plants and cares for the trees?

Trees can only be planted by a Surrey County Council Highways approved contractor. The initial maintenance of the tree of up to 3 years, which will include a regular watering programme and some hand weeding, will remain with the named individual on the initial tree application.

The tree will belong to us, Surrey County Council, once planted, and we will be responsible long-term for its ongoing maintenance.

All trees and their locations must be approved by the Highway Arboriculture Team through the above process before any works take place.

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