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The Top Street Trees for San Francisco

The Top Street Trees for San Francisco

As we discussed in another recent blog , street trees are vitally important for congested, urban areas. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are most likely used to seeing them on a regular basis.

If you have a business or home along a street, you may want to consider planting some trees there. Here are some of the best choices if you live in the San Francisco areas and want to plan trees along a road.

How to Plant Trees in the City

If you are attempting to plant trees in the city of San Francisco, you are going to need a Tree Planting Permit .

There is no cost associated with getting this permit, but it is necessary to make sure that your street trees are not impacting the infrastructure and that they are planted correctly.

You can submit the paperwork for the Tree Planting Permit online , or you can download a hard copy form to submit by fax or mail.

If you decide to fill out a physical form, just make sure that it is signed, and includes the name and number of the tree(s) being planted. For street tree planting that is going to be related to new construction, make sure that site plans are included that show the tree locations. In addition, site plans should provide the location of street lights, utilities, and any other street furniture.

Lastly, make sure to include your building permit number.

Cork Oak

The first street tree on our list is the cork oak tree .

This enormous tree grows up to be 30-60 feet tall, and is covered with thick and corky bark. It sprouts oval leaves that are grey on their underside and dark green on top. The contrast between the leaves and the textured, massive trunk make it a nice sight as you walk down the street.

One thing to note about this tree is that it needs good drainage to survive. If it’s in particularly alkaline conditions, the foliage might turn yellow.

The tree can tolerate medium wind and some shade, and is resistant to drought once they are established.

Lemon Bottlebrush

Next up we have the lemon bottlebrush .

This plant is technically a massive shrub, however if it is pruned regularly and staked when it’s young, it can become a round-headed, narrow tree.

It has leaves that are thin and 3 inches long, when they first grow they are copper, and then mature to a bright green color. When the leaves are bruised, they have a lemony smell.

This tree can tolerate pretty much anything: wind, fog, smog, cold, poor soil, salty air, etc. It can be planted and thrive in either the sun or shade, however it will flower more in the sunlight.

Grecian Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Photo by David J. Stang

The grecian laurel tree is another fantastic option for a street tree in San Francisco.

This tree is native to the Mediterranean, and reaches anywhere from 15-25 feet tall. It is multi-stemmed, and has a broad base.This gives it the illusion of a tapering cone.

The leaves are actually the bay leaves that you use in cooking, so they have a strong scent. Bay leaves are oval shaped, about 2-4 inches long, and a dark green color.

In addition to the leaves, the trees have small yellow spring flowers that are followed by purple or black fruit.

The tree is drought-tolerant, as well as tolerant of rocky/sandy soil, wind, salty air, smog, and any temperature extremes.

Bailey’s acacia (Acacia baileyana)


The Bailey’s acacia is a tree that reaches about 20-30 feet tall. It has beautiful, feathery blue gray leaves and clusters of yellow flowers.

It blooms in midwinter, and is resistant to drought, medium wind, shade, and any type of soil.

Queen Palm


Last but certainly not least, we have the queen palm tree .

This tree is native to Brazil, and grows to be 30-40 feet tall. It has an extremely straight trunk and has gorgeous bright green leaves.

The queen palm will tolerate moderate salt spray, as well as sandy or loamy soil.

Our Final Thoughts on Street Trees for San Francisco

We hope that you found our list of the top street trees for San Francisco helpful. If you need additional help with planting trees, contact Arborist Now in the San Francisco Bay Area for assistance.

Did any of your favorite trees make the list? 

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