Tabebuia impetignosa
The City of San Marino is known for its magnificent mature trees. These trees are not only important for their beauty and environmental benefits but add considerable value to the City’s residential properties. The National Arbor Day Foundation has recognized our City as a Tree City, U.S.A. in 1988, & 2000-2004 in honor of the care we provide for our trees. Unfortunately, our trees suffer from the rigors of urban life such as air pollution, vandalism, compacted soils, limited growing spaces and the extremes of our Southern California climate. In order to reap the benefits of our valuable asset the care of our urban forest must be a public/private partnership.

The 7,500 street and median trees and the 800 trees located in Lacy Park are a community assest valued in the millions of dollars. The Urban Forest provides environmental benefits, adds to property values and provides an enhanced quality of life for all residents. 

Important Numbers
City Staff

Tree pruning, tree removal, tree planting, inspections
  • Ron Serven, Environmental Services Manager/City Arborist-626-300-0789 or
  • John Santillan, Park Foreman-Park Department: 626-300-0790 or

Southern California Edison

◦Clear vegetation from power lines: 1-800-655-4555
◦ Report an object caught in power lines: 1-800-611-1911
◦ Report an outage: 1-800-611-1911
◦ Before you dig: Call 811
◦ Electrical Emergency: Call 911


  • City Trees
  • California Live Oaks
  • Benefits of Trees

City Trees

  • Long Term Management Plan/Schedule
All parkway trees located throughout the City are currently on a 4 year pruning cycle.  All City palm trees are pruned on an annual basis and trees located in the Business District are pruned on a 2 year cycle.    

Pruning Schedule

Area 1 (Southern) This area includes the broadleaf trees located south of Huntington Drive on the north and between the San Gabriel Blvd. City limits on the east end of the City to Granada Avenue on the west end of the City-Scheduled for F/Y 2017-2018 
Area 2 (Northwest) This area includes the broadleaf trees and conifers located north of Huntington Drive on the south and between the Garfield Avenue City limits on the west to the northern City Limits at Old Mill Road on the north to Old Mill Road on the east- Scheduled for F/Y 2018-2019 Approximately 1165 broadleaf trees to prune, all Citywide palm trees & Business District trees including Ficus trees 

Area 3 (North/Central) This area includes the broadleaf trees and conifers located north of Huntington Drive and between Old Mill Road on the west to Sierra Madre Boulevard on the east and to the City limits in the northern section at Homet Road- Also includes all broadleaf and conifers located in the parkways located along Huntington Drive from San Gabriel Boulevard to Los Robles Avenue. Scheduled for F/Y 2015-2016

Area 4 (Northeast) This area includes the broadleaf trees and conifers located north of Huntington Drive and between Sierra Madre Boulevard on the west to San Gabriel Boulevard on the east to the City limits at California Boulevard- Also all trees located on the Huntington Drive and Sierra Madre Boulevard medians- Scheduled for F/Y 2016-2017 


California Live Oaks


Are You Loving Your Oak Trees to Death?

San Marino is blessed with many magnificent trees on both City streets and private property. Of the several hundred species that are found here, the Coast Live Oak is arguably one of the grandest. Unfortunately, we are losing these trees at an alarming rate. Almost every week we list another patriarch of our urban forest for removal long before its time.

I spoke with one resident who had a new irrigation system installed and the lawn fertilized and over seeded with rye grass. The irrigation system was turned on and in due time the lawn was beautiful, but the majestic 80-year-old Coast Live Oaks between the curb and sidewalk had died.

Why are we losing these trees? To begin with, the Coast Live Oak is not the slow-growing species that many people believe all oaks to be. These oaks will grow to 25 feet in height and 10 inches in diameter at breast height in 10 years, and 50 feet in 20 years. The misconception that they are slow growing stems from the fact that they are very long-lived. When they grow on poor sites with poor soil fertility and little moisture, they often grow slowly, and when they become very old they grow more slowly. However, to grow in much of California's semi-desert climate zones, these oaks have adapted to this region by growing in the winter and spring when there is usually some moisture in the soil from rainfall. They then go dormant in the hot dry summer and fall.

This seems to contribute to their demise in urban areas because they do not do well if they are watered when dormant. They are particularly prone to a disease known as California oak root rot. This is caused by the fungus Amalaria. This fungus is always present in the soil but does little or no damage to healthy growing trees and plants with good culture, which are desirable moisture, fertility, light and temperature. The difficulty here is that what is good culture for a lawn is not good culture for oaks. Your lawn likes to be heavily watered and fertilized all summer. The fertilizer does not damage the oaks, but the water can be deadly. This is particularly true of water that falls on the trunk and exposed roots.

What should you do to preserve your oak trees? Many people have modified their irrigation system to avoid any water falling within ten feet of the base of the tree and then covered these areas with a layer of decomposed granite or mulch. Installing rocks around the base of the tree is not recommended due to moisture and heat being trapped and possibly encouraging the fungus to become more active.  You can also reduce the watering of your lawn within the drip line of the tree (the furthermost extension of the limbs) to the minimum required to keep the turf alive and growing. However, if you want your Coast Live Oak to outlive you, your children, and probably their children, you should remove all the irrigation within the drip line and declare this a dry zone. To maintain this area, simply allow it to become covered with a layer of oak leaves and remove any volunteer plants that may come in. The oak leaves will build a layer of natural forest soil or duff that will have a culture beneficial to the trees.

1212 Roanoke Rd. 2
1212 Roanoke Rd. 5

San Marino offers Oak Tree Preservation Program

The City of San Marino is widely recognized for its many beautiful, mature oak trees. But these trees, known for their mighty strength, are at risk. Excessive watering and improper ground cover, including turf and rocks, often adversely affect oak trees. These practices can lead to root decay, trunk failure, overall decline in tree health and the eventual death of the tree. The California Live Oak is especially susceptible to these conditions and is the main focus of the City of San Marino’s Oak Tree Preservation Program.

 To help the City preserve its oaks, residents with oak trees located in the City right of way in front of their house are encouraged to register for the San Marino Oak Tree Preservation Program. The program assists property owners with the installation of processed mulch around oak trees to reduce weed growth, improve drainage and soil structure, encourage new root growth and provide an aesthetically pleasing lawn substitute.

Interested residents should contact Environmental Services Manager Ron Serven at (626)300-0789 or

  • Benefits of Trees

    "Trees make our communities cleaner, cooler, and more comfortable. They leave a legacy for future generations." Trees help to soften and complement the built environment, making it greener and more attractive. Trees can live for centuries, and many older trees have important cultural or historical significance to individuals, local communities and, sometimes, even to the population as a whole. 

       Here are 22 of the best reasons to plant and care for trees or defend a tree’s standing:

     • Trees combat the greenhouse effect- Global warming is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Heat from the sun, reflected back from the earth, is trapped in this thickening layer of gases, causing global temperatures to rise. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.
    Trees clean the air- Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
    Trees provide oxygen- In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.
    Trees cool the streets and the city- Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 6°F in the last 50 years as tree coverage has declined and the number of heat-absorbing roads and buildings has increased. Trees cool the city by up to 10°F, by shading our homes and streets, breaking up urban “heat islands” and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.
    Trees conserve energy- Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.
    • Trees save water- Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only fifteen gallons of water a week. As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.
    • Trees help prevent water pollution- Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents storm water from carrying pollutants to the ocean. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.
    • Trees help prevent soil erosion- On hillsides or stream slopes, trees slow runoff and hold soil in place.
    • Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Trees reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, thus providing protection to children on school campuses and playgrounds - where children spend hours outdoors.
    • Trees provide food- An apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot. Aside from fruit for humans, trees provide food for birds and wildlife.
    • Trees heal- Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.
    • Trees reduce violence- Neighborhoods and homes that are barren have shown to have a greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts. Trees and landscaping help to reduce the level of fear.
    • Trees mark the seasons- Is it winter, spring, summer or fall? Look at the trees.
    • Trees create economic opportunities- Fruit harvested from community orchards can be sold, thus providing income. Small business opportunities in green waste management and landscaping arise when cities value mulching and its water-saving qualities. Vocational training for youth interested in green jobs is also a great way to develop economic opportunities from trees.
    • Trees are teachers and playmates- Whether as houses for children or creative and spiritual inspiration for adults, trees have provided the space for human retreat throughout the ages.
    • Trees bring diverse groups of people together- Tree plantings provide an opportunity for community involvement and empowerment that improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods. All cultures, ages, and genders have an important role to play at a tree planting or tree care event.
    • Trees add unity- Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride.
    • Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife- Sycamore and oak are among the many urban species that provide excellent urban homes for birds, bees, possums and squirrels.
    • Trees block things- Trees can mask concrete walls or parking lots, and unsightly views. They muffle sound from nearby streets and freeways, and create an eye-soothing canopy of green. Trees absorb dust and wind and reduce glare.
    • Trees provide wood- In suburban and rural areas, trees can be selectively harvested for fuel and craft wood.
    • Trees increase property values- The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighborhood can raise property values by as much as 15 percent.
    • Trees increase business traffic- Studies show that the more trees and landscaping a business district has, the more business will flow in. A tree-lined street will also slow traffic – enough to allow the drivers to look at the store fronts instead of whizzing by.


How do I select the right tree for the right spot? 

Questions to ask yourself when deciding to plant a new tree:

  1.  Does this tree grow well in our area?
  2. How big does this tree get when it is mature?
  3. Are there potential hardscape, utility conflicts, or other permanent fixtures that may impact or be impacted by this new tree?
  4. What attributes am I looking for in a tree- Evergreen,  deciduous, shade, fall color, privacy, flowering, fruit bearing, focal point or other distinguishing features.