How to Track Your Trees

Pack a bag

As with all outings, it is important to remember your key supplies. Here are some things you may want to bring with you:

  • Smart phone and the My Tree Tracker app! – Why record for later when you can update your trees right then and there.
  • Measuring tool – If you have a DBH measuring tape then awesome! If not, then a flexible tape measure or a string,
              marker and thumbtack will do fine.
  • Map – Why risk getting lost or losing your tree.
  • Something to ID your Tree – Either your Tree ID key, or a tree guide.
  • Recording Materials – If you aren't using the app you will want a pencil, pen, map print out and piece of paper to help you record.
  • Camera – While data tells us a lot, so does a photo.

Pick your destination

In order to measure a tree, you need to locate one first. By using the map on our website you can find trees close to you that need updating, or you can go out, find a tree, and mark down its location as well as its measurements.

ID the species of your Tree

Since this may be a daunting concept to most, we have supplied you with a Tree ID Key specific to whatever city you reside in. Just follow the steps using our Tree ID Key, including tree shape, leaf shape, and bark type, and find out what species your tree is. If you aren't certain and don't feel confident including it in our database, don't worry! Just take a photo of the tree and/or leaves and we will try our best to help ID it for you.

Measure your Tree’s diameter

This is one of the key measurements required to calculate the ecosystem services for your tree. By quantifying the size of the trunk, we estimate the amount of carbon stored, water filtered and air circulated through the tree's system. In order to measure the diameter (or circumference depending on your tools), just follow these steps:

  1. Start off the measurement by locating a point on the trunk approximately 4ft 6in from the base.
  2. At this height, wrap whatever measuring device you have around the tree tightly,
    checking to make sure its level all the way around and not twisted.
  3. Record your measurement, this may be different depending on the tool you are using:

    1. Diameter Measuring tape (DBH tape): record the number at the overlap, and record the diameter of the tree.

    2. Standard Measuring tape: record the number where the end of the tape overlaps with the body,
      and record the circumference of the tree.

    3. String and Pen: mark the location of the overlap, then measure the distance from end to mark,
      and record the circumference.

  4. If the trunk of the tree appears to be abnormal, use the following steps to make sure you measure the correct trunk segment:
    • For a forked trunk – measure below the fork
    • For a bulging trunk – measure below the bulge

Make sure that you know whether it’s the circumference or diameter you
are recording as the website will process them differently

Observe and Record

It is important to collect data beyond the DBH and species of a tree. Things to collect are:

  1. Tree condition – Our studies try to figure out what factors within an urban environment affect the growth and health of urban trees. With that in mind, making a note of how healthy your tree looks can help us on our way to understanding what makes it healthier.
  2. The Tree's surroundings – Be sure to note information on the sidewalk and powerlines surrounding the tree.
  3. Depending on the city you are in the app may ask a few additional questions about each tree.

Take a photo, if you haven't already

While a photo is useful in the event that you can’t ID your Tree, it is also helpful for a number of other reasons. So feel free to upload photos of the tree, leaves, and locations as you see fit.

If you used our app… Congratulations you did it! Now go find another tree.

If you used pencil and paper… You are almost done! Log on to My Tree Tracker to enter your data