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Action Revitalizing School Grounds Urban Forests

Tree Planting & Urban Forests

The TDSB recognizes that the urban forest is vital to the health of our environment. Trees have many benefits: they absorb CO2, provide shade, encourage biodiversity, reduce stormwater runoff and support outdoor learning opportunities. Guided by its Urban Forest Management Plan (2013), the TDSB has committed significant resources to tree planting and tree maintenance. The Urban Forest Management Plan also supported a University of Toronto research project studying the effect of trees on the academic performance of primary students at the TDSB.

The TDSB is proud to align with the strategic goals of the City of Toronto’s Strategic Forest Management Plan focusing on the equitable distribution of trees, increased biodiversity and improved monitoring and stewardship.



Reviewing the viability for tree planting is the first step for schools to receive approval, guidance, and support for their planting projects. This is facilitated through the Viability Review meeting process.


Tree Planting

Large Tree Program

The TDSB’s Large Tree Program was launched in 2007, and since then, over 4,000 large native shade trees have been planted at over 300 TDSB schools. The total canopy on TDSB properties now includes over 35,000 trees, which absorb approximately 175 metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

Tree Mulching

The TDSB practices mulching around the base of trees to improve moisture retention in soil, protect against compaction, suppress weeds and encourage soil regeneration. Working with EcoSchools students to help mulch trees on school grounds promotes stewardship and environmental connection.

Summer Watering Program

To improve tree survival rates, TDSB trees are watered during the first two summers after planting. This practice using water bags helps young trees to establish and grow into healthy, mature trees.


Innovative Planting Strategies

The TDSB continues to explore new and innovative planting strategies to increase the likelihood of tree survival in harsh, urban environments. These include the use of soil cells when planting in asphalt areas and planting trees in close proximity to create groves providing shade and benefits to overall tree health.


Nature Study Areas

In 2006, the TDSB initiated a program encouraging schools to develop nature study areas (NSAs) on school grounds. These designated areas naturalize when they are no longer mowed, which can reduce maintenance costs, noise and air pollution. Each NSA is unique to the environmental conditions in that particular schoolyard. NSAs are an important component of the EcoSchools program as they allow teachers and students to access the enhanced biodiversity that naturalized areas can provide for learning right in the schoolyard. In 2016, the TDSB developed a guide to help schools plan, create, maintain and use their NSAs. Currently, about 18 schools have NSAs.


For more information about tree planting contact: