Trees and forestry

Trees and forests provide many benefits, including improving our air and water, making ourselves and our communities healthier, reducing the urban heat island effect, providing wildlife habitat, saving energy and increasing property values.

The tree canopy in Hennepin County faces a number of threats, including development, insects and diseases, climate extremes, and poor installation and maintenance.

The county has programs and resources available to help protect and enhance our tree canopy.

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Celebrate Arbor Day

About Arbor Day

Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday of April and Arbor Month is celebrated throughout May. This is a time to recognize the many benefits that trees provide to our health, well being, and environment and take action to care for trees. Arbor Day 2020 is Friday, April 24.

Although celebrations for this Arbor Day may look a little different with community celebrations and tree plantings postponed or cancelled, there is still a lot to celebrate. Getting outside and spending time around trees is good for our health and well-being. Use the following resources can use to learn about and celebrate trees this Arbor Day.

Arbor Day Bingo: Get to know your neighborhood trees

Take a walk around your neighborhood or visit a local park and see how many of these common urban trees you can find on our Arbor Day Bingo card. Download a PDF or JPG.

It can be more challenging to identify trees when they don’t have their leaves, but it’s not impossible! Some tips and resources:

Spring tree care tips

Hennepin County foresters, Dustin Ellis, joined us from his backyard to share spring tree care tips.

First up: removing the bark protection from young trees. This is important to help young trees grow because they can actually photosynthesize through their bark! He also explains how to assess rabbit damage. Watch here.

Next: tips for pruning trees and shrubs that have experienced significant damage from rabbits. Also advice on proper mulching. Mulch helps protect roots and retain water in the soil surrounding the tree, but you want to make sure to create a “donut” around the step so you don’t damage the tree. Watch here.


Grants to improve the tree canopy

About the healthy tree canopy grants

Hennepin County has grants available to cities, affordable housing properties, schools, and non-profit organizations to enhance the county’s tree canopy.

The goals of the program are to combat threats to trees from invasive insects and disease by funding tree planting, educate the public on tree care and the importance of trees, and increase the diversity and resiliency of the tree canopy.

Types of grants available

Different types of grants are available to cities, affordable housing properties, and schools and non-profit organizations.

See the healthy tree canopy grants flyer (PDF) to learn more about the difference between the grant types.


For cities with no tree inventory or an incomplete tree inventory:

  • Grants are only to complete tree inventories.
  • Grants of $1,000 to $5,000 are available, and a 25% match is required.

For cities that have a completed tree inventory and a have a MN DNR certified tree inspector or an ISA-certified arborist under contract for the proposed grant project:

  • Grants are to implement tree plantings, maintain newly planted trees, remove and replace ash trees, conduct outreach, develop gravel-bed nurseries and develop tree management plans.
  • Grants of $10,000 to $50,000 are available, and a 25% match is required.

See the 2020 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for cities (PDF) for more information.

Affordable housing

Grants are for removing ash trees and planting trees on affordable housing properties.

Grants are available to new and existing affordable housing properties. Eligible applicants include owners and managers of existing affordable multifamily housing, developers of new affordable multifamily housing, and affordable housing land trusts.

Grants of a minimum of $5,000 up to a maximum of $20,000 are available. A 25% match of the granted amount is required.

See the 2020 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for affordable housing properties (PDF) for more information.


Grants are for tree plantings on school properties, tree-related education, tree inventories, ash tree removals, and Arbor Day celebrations.

Eligible applicants include administrators, teachers, principals, and facility managers of existing charter, private, and public schools in Hennepin County.   

Grants of a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $10,000 are available. A 25% match is required for ash tree removals. No match required for other expenses.

See the 2020 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for schools (PDF) for more information.

Nonprofit organizations

Grants are for tree plantings on community properties, tree-related education, tree inventories, ash tree removals, and Arbor Day celebrations.

Eligible applicants include nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations in Hennepin County.

Grants of a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $10,000 are available. A 25% match is required for ash tree removals. No match required for other expenses.

See the 2020 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for nonprofit organizations (PDF) for more information.

How to apply

Applications for 2020 healthy tree canopy grants are due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 18.

Applicants are encouraged to register and submit their applications in advance of the due date.

To access the RFP and apply:

  • Visit the Supplier Portal.
  • Under events, view the application materials by selecting the healthy tree canopy grant applicable to your organization type.
  • You need to be registered to submit an application. For detailed instructions on how to register and submit an application, including video tutorials and more, visit the Supplier Portal information page.

Contact us for help with your grant project

Hennepin County foresters are available to help you develop projects and answer any questions related to the grant and application process. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the forestry team at before applying.

Helpful grant resources

The following resources will be helpful in completing your grant application.

Tree planting priority areas map

The county’s tree planting priorities map factors in both environmental and demographic data. The map uses land cover data and disparity data such as income, housing, and health to understand areas that have lower tree canopy and higher need.

Grant selection will be based, in part, on a comparison of the project locations with the identified priority planting areas.

Recommended tree list

Use the county's recommended tree list (XLSX) when developing a planting plan.

The list includes a list of species and notes about their suitability for planting in various locations. A do-not-plant list is also included. 

Grant program updates

Sign up for the Canopy newsletter to get grant program updates.

Recently awarded healthy tree canopy grants

Grants to nonprofit organizations awarded February 2020

More than $58,000 was awarded to eight nonprofit organizations to engage communities in planting trees, remove and replace ash trees, conduct tree-related education, complete tree inventories, and hold Arbor Day celebrations.

The following grants were awarded: 

Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis

$8,735 to remove three mature ash trees and plant 10 new trees.

Friends of the Mississippi River

$1,843 to restore and diversify a 5.3 acre forest on Nicollet Island in Minneapolis and plant 150 trees.

Green Minneapolis

$9,700 for a year-long engagement effort to create awareness of downtown trees by adding and updating tree tags, hosting education events, engaging volunteers, and developing Arbor Day events that will include planting 130 trees.

Lakewood Cemetery Association in Minneapolis

$10,000 to inventory all the ash trees in the cemetery. Five hazardous trees will begin to be removed, and one new tree will be planted for every one removed.

St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association

$8,646 to remove and replace six ash trees in Community Commons Park in Minneapolis.

Tree Trust

$5,315 to offer a Learning with Trees program at Glen Lake Elementary School in Minnetonka, which will include planting 25 trees at the school.

Touchstone Mental Health

$5,000 to remove and replace five ash trees at a residential treatment service facility located at 8941 Portland Avenue S in Bloomington.


$9,720 to diversify their tree canopies by planting 60 new trees at YMCA Camp Christmas Tree and Camp Ihduhapi. Both camps will also train additional staff in Project Learning Tree/Project Wild to expand environmental educational programming.

Grants to affordable housing properties awarded February 2020

About $50,000 was awarded to three affordable housing properties to promote a more diverse, resilient, and equitable tree canopy by removing and replacing ash trees and increasing the tree canopy. 

The following grants were awarded:


$17,200 to remove four ash trees and plant 41 additional trees at Seasons Park Apartments in Richfield.

City of Edina

$12,470 to remove two ash trees and replace them with 20 new trees after construction of a new building at 7075 Amundson Avenue is complete.

Metro Blooms

$20,000 to remove and replace 18 ash trees at Autumn Ridge Apartments in Brooklyn Park to improve public safety and capture stormwater.

Grants to cities awarded October 2019

Healthy Tree Canopy grants totaling $237,000 were awarded to 14 cities in order to promote a more diverse, resilient, and equitable tree canopy. The grants will fund tree inventories, mitigate the effects of tree pests and pathogens, increase the capacity of city forestry programs, educate residents on the benefits of trees and engage them in tree planting efforts, and improve livability by planting trees in neighborhoods that face economic, environmental, and health disparities.

The following grants were awarded:

Brooklyn Center

$5,000 to inventory ash trees in city parks and right-of-ways

Brooklyn Park

$50,000 to create a tree planting plans for 30 city parks, plant 180 trees with community members in four parks, treat 1,300 ash trees, and remove 25 ash trees.


$18,328 to remove and replace 67 ash trees along Champlin Drive and assist with the purchase of a stump grinder.


$1,270 to inventory ash trees in nine public parks.

Eden Prairie

$31,927 to remove and replace 275 ash trees and treat 305 high quality ash trees.


$5,000 to inventory ash trees in parks and open spaces.

Golden Valley

$6,000 to inventory ash trees and hazardous trees in open spaces.


$25,179 to remove 50 large ash trees and plant 60 trees to replace ash trees.


$10,000 to educate residents about the potential loss of ash trees, remove select ash trees in city lots, treat high value ash trees, and plant 50 trees through a volunteer tree planting.

Minnetonka Beach

$3,375 to complete a tree inventory for all public open spaces, city properties and rights-of-way.

New Hope

$20,000 to plant 50 trees within the rights-of-way where ash trees have been removed.


$17,000 to remove seven ash trees a neighborhood park, treat five ash trees, plant 10 new trees and complete a tree study to determine how to reconfigure roads to create wider boulevard spaces that improve tree health.


$24,630 to update its tree inventory, remove and replace nine ash trees, treat 23 high quality ash trees, and purchase a computer tablet for data collection in the field.

Tonka Bay

$20,000 to complete a tree management plan, remove 10 ash trees, and replant 10 trees in city parks.


Education and volunteer opportunities

Hennepin County offers training classes and volunteer opportunities to learn about tree care, improve tree health in your community, and educate others about trees.

Community volunteer tree plantings

There are no community volunteer tree plantings scheduled at this time. 

Tree steward classes

Tree steward classes cover the basics of tree biology, tree planting, watering, pruning, and tree health through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on, outdoor field experience. Classes are offered in partnership with the University of Minnesota and host cities.

After completing the class, volunteers have opportunities to help plant and care for trees with the county and partnering organizations.

Classes are open to the public, and no experience is needed. The University of Minnesota provides the necessary tools and safety equipment. Participants should dress appropriately for being outside.

Upcoming classes 

There are no classes scheduled at this time.

Get notified of future classes

If you would like to be notified when the schedule and registration is available for future tree steward classes, contact Shane DeGroy at or 612-543-3697.

Tree planting and reforestation

Hennepin County plants and maintains trees on sites throughout the county in partnership with cities, libraries, community organization and schools. Planting projects include along county roadways, at county libraries and facilities, at schools and parks, and in natural areas and conservation easements.

Gravel-bed nursery

Most of the trees the county plants come from the county's gravel-bed nursery, located at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth. The gravel-bed nursery gives the county access to hardy, diverse and cost-effective trees for use on county projects and properties.

Every spring, 1,500 young saplings of a variety of species are purchased from commercial nurseries and planted in the gravel-bed. The trees grow and develop a good root structure throughout the summer, and are ready to be transplanted in the fall.

Compared to conventional nursery trees, the gravel-bed nursery gives the county access to a wider diversity of tree species, produces trees that have a higher survival rate, and allows the county to plant trees in a more cost-effective manner. The gravel-bed nursery is also helping the county proactively replace ash trees that will ultimately be infested with the emerald ash borer.

Planting projects

Trees from the gravel-bed nursery are transplanted to a variety of county projects and properties.

Examples of planting projects that the county has or is working on include:

  • Arbor Day plantings at various locations
  • Community locations: including along the Midtown Greenway, at schools and in parks
  • Hennepin County facilities and libraries
  • Restoration projects in natural areas and conservation easements
  • Transportation and transit corridors

Assistance available

If you are looking for assistance with a planting project or are interested in installing a gravel-bed nursery, contact Dustin Ellis at or 612-348-2259.

Emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borer, an invasive tree pest that attacks and kills ash trees, is the biggest current threat to our tree canopy. There are over 1 million ash trees in Hennepin County, and 100 percent of them are threatened by the emerald ash borer. Most residents live within 15 miles of an infested ash tree, which means you should be taking steps now to determine if you have ash trees on your property and how you are going to manage them.

Options for managing ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer

Hennepin County has the following resources to learn about emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees:

Spread the word

Use these resources to help spread the word about emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees:

Hennepin County emerald ash borer plan

Learn more about the emerald ash tree in Hennepin County and the county's plans to address the tree pest in the Hennepin County tree canopy enhancement and emerald ash borer plan (PDF).

Canopy forestry updates newsletter

Canopy is a quarterly newsletter to share updates and news about trees and forestry in Hennepin County. This newsletter is intended to be a collaborative effort to share news, upcoming events, and resources.

Sign up to receive the Canopy newsletter.

Latest editions

Spring 2020

Fall 2019

  • Tree plantings help create a more diverse and resilient urban forest 
  • Healthy Tree Canopy Grants awarded to to 14 cities, applications for schools, nonprofits, and affordable housing properties due October 28
  • Fall planting projects

Summer 2019

  • Grants available to protect and plant trees
  • Fall tree steward classes

Spring 2019

  • Healthy tree canopy grants available: funding available for tree plantings, ash tree removals, tree inventories, outreach and more
  • Deciding how to manage ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer: new resources available to understand options for ash trees
  • Volunteers help plant trees on Hiawatha

Winter 2019

  • Healthy tree canopy grants awarded, project will focus on reducing disparities
  • Tree steward class offered in Plymouth in April

Fall 2018

  • Healthy tree canopy grants
  • Tree planting prioritization map
  • Fall tree planting on Hiawatha Avenue

Summer 2018

  • Options for managing ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer: new website and education materials available

Spring 2018

  • Celebrate Arbor Day: Hennepin County planting projects and Arbor Day events map
  • New online tree inventory application released
  • Tree steward class empowers community volunteers
  • Hennepin County and partners receive outstanding project award
  • Spring planting projects
  • Upcoming events

Contribute to future editions

If you are interested in contributing, please send updates to Jen Kullgren at

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