SF Environment is partnering with Friends of the Urban Forest to offer residents the opportunity to adopt a living tree for the holidays.

For many Bay Area residents, a Christmas tree is a key component of the holiday season.

From picking out a tree at the lot to wrestling it home and into the living room to placing each ornament on just the right branch, the tree often sets the stage for Christmas.

But, festive traditions notwithstanding, a typical Christmas tree is not very environmentally friendly. So what’s an enviro-conscious San Franciscan to do?

Don’t worry — the San Francisco Department of the Environment has you covered!

Adopt a Living Tree

For the tenth year in a row, SF Environment is partnering with Friends of the Urban Forest to offer residents the opportunity to adopt a living tree for the holidays.

Adopt a Living Tree

As described by SF Environment:

“Green your holiday celebrations with a living, potted tree, hand-picked to thrive on San Francisco’s streets. Return the tree after the holidays, and Friends of the Urban Forest will plant it in a neighborhood that needs more trees (and you can participate in the planting if you like).”

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is a non-profit organization based in the Presidio whose mission is to “promote a larger, healthier urban forest as part of San Francisco’s green infrastructure through community planting, tree care, education, and advocacy.”

As FUF explains:

“In partnership with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, FUF offers living, potted Christmas trees. For a tax-deductible $75 donation, you get a beautiful, four-to-six-foot-tall, non-traditional tree to bring home for decoration and enjoyment. Return the tree to us after the holidays (or have us pick it up at your home), and we’ll use it in our Neighborhood Tree Planting program.”

Adopt a Living Tree for the Holidays

Environmental Benefits of Living Christmas Trees

Living Christmas trees offer numerous environmental benefits over traditional holiday trees, including

  • Reducing waste and post-holiday litter
  • Cleaning the air
  • Decreasing storm-water runoff into the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay
  • Providing wildlife habitat

Here are some additional feel-good facts from SF Environment:

  • “By choosing a living, potted tree, you’ll help grow San Francisco’s urban forest canopy.
  • Trees positively affect the mental well-being of urban dwellers, making us safer, happier, and better able to handle stress.
  • Urban trees reduce water pollution by capturing street runoff from storms. They also save on energy costs by acting as shade from the sun and as a shield from the wind.
  • Street trees help clean the air and can reduce incidences of childhood asthma.
  • San Francisco can accommodate another 50,000 street trees. We currently have about 105,000 trees.”

How to Adopt a Living Christmas Tree

Order Your Tree

Your living Christmas tree can be purchased with a $75 donation to Friends of the Urban Forest, which is tax deductible.

You can order your living tree online now on the FUF website.

Tree Pick-Up

Trees will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Green Christmas Tree Lot on Saturday, December 3.


3′-6′ tall non-traditional holiday trees that are “good for San Francisco’s streets,” including Fern PineJapanese BlueberryCatalina Ironwood, and Small-Leaf Tristania


Pick up your tree, make ornaments, and enjoy refreshments at the Green Christmas Tree Lot on Saturday, December 3 from 10 AM -2 PM.


Friends of the Urban Forest Office, at Edie Road and Kendall Drive in the Presidio

Pick-ups after December 3, 2016:

You may also pick up your tree at the Friends of the Urban Forest office during regular office hours after December 3. Visit the FAQs page or contact [email protected] for more pick up information.

Adopt a Living Tree - Planting Street Trees

Image credit

Tree Return

Returning your tree is easy! You can drop it off at Friends of the Urban Forest’s offices after the holiday season is over or, for a small fee, they will come to your house to retrieve it.

As a recent article by Hoodline added:

“After the holidays are over, adopters can return their trees to FUF themselves, or have them picked up for $25.

“Before they become city trees, the adopted trees will need to spend up to 18 months in FUF’s tree lot, growing into the larger size that they’ll need to withstand the pressures of life on the streets. Adoptive families can stay connected with FUF, and participate in the process of planting their tree once it’s ready.”