TREES & plants

Community Trees Program

The Morton Arboretum’s Community Trees Program helps communities, public and private landowners, land managers, tree professionals, and groups interested in trees effectively manage and care for our urban and community forest—from nature preserves to parks and office parks, along streets, in homeowners associations,along streets, and in private yards.

This urban forestry outreach program offers a wide range of information and assistance:


Community Trees Events Calendar


Selecting trees

*NEW* Northern Illinois Tree Species List 

Northern Illinois Tree Species List


Celebrating trees

Trees need understanding and support from people to live long, productive lives. Community and school activities can build that support. Organize school and community Arbor Day celebrations and find STEM resources for teachers. LEARN MORE

Community tree resources

The Community Trees Program can help municipalities, other public agencies, community groups and homeowners manage and care for their parts of the urban and community forest. Find help on developing tree inventory, management, and planting programs; tree selection for a diverse, resilient urban forest; seeking funding; the Tree City USA program; and training opportunities. LEARN MORE


Tree Tools: urban forestry guides

This toolkit of resource guides called Tree Tools offers concrete, practical information, advice, and guidance for communities to use in improving their urban forestry programs. Tree Tools provide background information, examples, suggestions for implementation, and ways to get more help or deepen your knowledge. LEARN MORE

Pests and other problems

Insect pests and diseases are among the greatest challenges to maintaining a thriving urban and community forest. The Community Trees Program offers help to homeowners, professionals and public officials. LEARN MORE

Protecting trees

In urban areas, trees need people to value them, preserve them, and care for them. The Community Trees Program can help communities develop a base of public support through such means as tree boards and commissions, tree ordinances and volunteer stewardship programs. LEARN MORE

Regional trees news

If you are a tree professional, municipal official, or community tree lovers, the Community Tree Program is your source for news and events of interest. LEARN MORE


Community Trees Program Manager and Director of Chicago Region Trees Initiative: Lydia Scott

Community Trees Program Specialist: Beth Corrigan

Chicago Region Trees Initiative Coordinator: Melissa Custic

To reach the Community Trees Program, e-mail communitytrees@mortonarb.org.

Purpose and history

The philosophy of the program is that all trees, on both public and private land, together form an urban and community forest that is as important a part of a community’s infrastructure as its streets and water mains.

Collectively, the green infrastructure of trees and their ecosystems provides important services and benefits: Their beauty and shade makes neighborhoods more livable and improves property values. Their roots hold topsoil. Their shade saves energy. Their leafy canopies and spreading roots absorb rainwater, reducing flooding and replenishing groundwater. They shelter wildlife, including birds that control insect. Their foliage absorbs air pollution. They store carbon and provide oxygen. They help form the character of the a community.

But trees in urban areas need people to protect and maintain them. The goal of the Community Trees Program is to help people help trees live long, productive lives. 

The Community Trees Program was established in 2002 with support from the Grace Bersted Foundation.  It is part of the Regional Trees Initative and builds on findings of the Regional Tree Census produced in cooperation with the US Forest Service.