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Tree Care

Updated April 6, 2020


Trees are at the root of what makes Cerritos such a beautiful city. Since the City’s incorporation in 1956, the Public Works Department has planted more than 30,000 trees along City sidewalks and medians, next to freeway ramps and throughout Cerritos' 24 parks and recreation facilities. This "urban forest" helps give Cerritos its character as a park-like community.

The Benefits of Trees

Not only do trees add beauty, they offer many other benefits you may not have considered, such as providing shady spots for picnics and concerts in the park and protecting our homes from the harsh sun of summer and the cold wind of winter, resulting in lower cooling and heating bills. Trees also buffer noise and filter air pollution by converting carbon dioxide from car exhaust to the oxygen we breathe, and can serve as landmarks and historic treasures for our community. Well-kept trees have been shown to increase property values by 25 percent or more.

The City Plants a Tree in Front of Every Home

In Cerritos, nearly every home has a City tree planted in its parkway. Approximately 250 young trees are planted each year to replace those that were damaged by storms, age or accidents.

The varieties are selected to suit the many soil types found throughout Cerritos. Former dairy land, for instance, is very alkaline, so trees planted in these areas must withstand high acidity. Trees are also selected for their size and appearance.

Common Varieties Planted in Cerritos

The varieties commonly planted by the Public Works Department include:

  • Aristocrat Pear
  • Brisbane Box
  • Cajeput
  • Canary Island Pine
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Fern Pine
  • Ginkgo
  • Golden Rain Tree
  • Grecian Laurel
  • Holly Oak
  • Italian Stone Pine
  • Modesto Ash
  • Pink Idaho Locust
  • Pittosporum
  • Purple Leaf Plum
  • Sharpleaf Jacaranda
  • Small Leaf Tristania
  • Southern Magnolia
  • Sweet Gum
  • Sycamore  

Healthy Tree Care

Caring for these trees is a community effort. Home and business owners take responsibility by regularly watering the parkway trees in front of their properties. With very young trees, deep watering is best because it encourages roots to grow downward, away from curbs, sidewalks and driveways.

New City trees are planted with plenty of fertilizer to last four to five years. For this reason, home owners should avoid over-fertilizing their parkways, as excess nutrients can burn tree roots.

Home owners should also leave a 6 to 8-inch ring of soil at the base of their trees so that the trees won’t have to compete with the lawn for water. This soil buffer also helps keep the nylon strings from weed-eating machines safely away from young trees.

City Duties

City crews fertilize parkway trees when needed and spray them every season for fungus and insects. City crews also follow a regular trimming schedule based on the needs of each variety.

Trimming is done to enhance the trees’ health and to make sure sidewalks and streets are clear of safety hazards. In recent years, City crews have minimized the amount of trimming from each tree to help reduce the green waste going to local landfills. The City may also install root barriers to protect curbs, sidewalks and driveways.

Don't Top Your Trees

City crews use special trimming techniques, established by the International Society of Arboriculture, that promote tree health and stability.

Cutting a tree the wrong way- chopping branches severely to reduce the tree’s size - is called "topping." Topping gives trees ugly stumps and raw cuts that invite insects and disease. And because topping starves trees by robbing them of their food-making ability, most will quickly grow ugly, brushy regrowth that requires frequent trimming. Topped trees will also grow "false limbs"- branches with very weak connections that can easily break.

Topping City trees is against state laws and may harm property values. City crews never top parkway trees. Likewise, home owners are advised to hire a certified arborist to care for the trees in their front and back yards. Proper pruning will save your trees- and money- in the long run.

Reporting a Problem

City trees are trimmed on a regular schedule, so residents do not need to request this service. However, if you feel the tree in front of your property requires additional trimming, please contact the City. Also, if you see a City tree that is unhealthy looking or posing a hazard, or if its roots are pushing up on the sidewalk or curb, please report it by:

• Calling the Public Works Department at (562) 916-1220;

• Mailing or faxing a letter describing the location of the tree and the problem to the Cerritos Public Works Department, P.O. Box 3130, Cerritos, CA 90703-3130, FAX (562) 916-1211; or

• Submitting an on-line Tree Trimming Request Form through this website

A tree supervisor will inspect the tree and take necessary actions.

Tree Removal Requests

Cerritos street trees will only be removed if they are diseased, dying or dead, or if they pose a threat to public health or safety. Property owners can request a tree removal application under these circumstances by calling the Public Works Department.

If the City agrees that the tree should be removed, it will be taken out and replaced at the City’s expense. If a street-tree removal request is denied by City staff, you may appeal that decision within 10 days to the City’s Property Preservation Commission, the citizens’ advisory group that helps maintain high standards for private property in Cerritos.

The commission will notify your neighbors when a public hearing has been scheduled to consider the removal. The Property Preservation Commission is authorized to remove no more than 50 trees each year. The City’s intent is to preserve street trees whenever possible for the enjoyment of the community.

Tree Removal Request Form (PDF)

Heritage Trees

The City's Tree Ordinance also allows the Property Preservation Commission to designate Heritage Trees- trees with historical significance that are given special protection and care. To nominate a tree to be considered for historical recognition, please call the City's Community Development Department at (562) 916-1201.

For More Information

For more information on street-tree care or the City’s Tree Ordinance, call the Public Works Department at (562) 916-1220.

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