Esplanade Trees & the L.E.A.F. Project

Tree Inventory

In 2015, the Esplanade Association introduced a new tree inventory management program called ArborScope™, the latest in sustainable, high-tech landscape management software. The Esplanade Association hired Bartlett Tree Experts to perform an inventory of over 1,700 trees on the Esplanade and compile this information into the ArborScope database. The program overlays the inventory and assessment on top of Google™ Maps to provide a simple and efficient means of viewing, updating, and querying any tree information.

This information allows us to rate the health of each tree in the park and create a plan for care priorities. We now know where specific tree care — such as pruning, fertilizing, and root aeration is most needed — and we are able to track the work that’s been done to ensure that every tree benefits from routine care.

Lasting Esplanade Arbor Fund (L.E.A.F.)

Building on the 2015 tree inventory, in 2019 the Esplanade Association released a first-of-its-kind Lasting Esplanade Arbor Fund (L.E.A.F.) Project — the result of a collaborative effort between the Esplanade Association, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture. This plan helps secure the future health of park trees by increasing species diversity, laying guidelines for succession plantings to replace dead and declining trees, and making recommendations for preventative care, such as pruning and air spading. It has been approved by the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Conservation Commission.

View our Tree Management & Succession Plan here.

In addition to solutions that will improve the health of our tree canopy, the L.E.A.F. project provides planting recommendations that are informed by the original, historic planting plans created by landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff. Learn more about the history of the park here.

2019 & 2021 Plantings

In fall 2019, we planted the first 20 trees of our L.E.A.F. project. In spring 2020, we planted 28 trees, then 22 trees in fall 2020.

These are only 70 of the hundreds of trees that the Esplanade Association will plant as part of the multi-year L.E.A.F. project.

Learn about the types of trees planted in 2019 and where you can find them.

Download a flyer about the 2019 tree plantings.

Download our 2020 Tree Plantings Report.

Explore our 2019 and 2020 L.E.A.F. Plantings.

Stay tuned for updates on our 2021 Tree Plantings!

L.E.A.F. is Made Possible By:

Esplanade tree care is made possible with the support of:

Anonymous (2)
Boston Athletic Association
The Biber Foundation
City of Boston Community Preservation Fund
Beacon Hill Garden Club
The Garden Club of the Back Bay
Boston Planning and Development Agency
2019 Visionary Award Recipient Dan Mathieu
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)

Climate Change & The Impact of 1,700 Trees

The trees along the Esplanade are helping to mitigate the impact of climate change through their extensive root systems and foliage. For example, each 18” caliper tree, which represents 44% of the tree population along the Esplanade, filters approximately 2,490 gallons of storm water runoff in the Charles River and captures 636 pounds of CO2 per year through its foliage. With a population of 1,700 trees, this impact is significantly magnified and represents a benefit to the community of park users and society as a whole.

*Storm water and CO2 calculations determined through the National Tree Benefit Calculator. It is based on the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree STREETS assessment. 

DCR Partnership Matching Funds Program

Thanks to the support of DCR’s Partnership Matching Funds Program, we are able to further our tree care efforts by pruning and removing trees along the Esplanade. A total of 579 trees were pruned along the Esplanade in early 2020 and early 2021 in order to secure the health of such trees. Pruning is an essential practice for tree health as the removal of unstable, unwanted, and/or weak branches improves overall tree structure and supports new and healthy growth. Additionally, any trees that were dead, deteriorating and/or a public safety concern were removed from the park during these pruning sessions.

For every tree that is removed as part of the L.E.A.F. initiative, the Esplanade Association will plant a young tree of a native species. In addition to these replanted trees, the Esplanade Association is also planting dozens of trees each year to fill gaps in the Esplanade’s tree canopy and increase its species diversity.

We Need Your Support!

Your donation ensures the successful execution of the L.E.A.F. Project, directly supporting multiple years of pruning and removals, watering, soil improvements, and the planting of over 200 new trees.

Please help support our tree care by donating today. With your help, we can ensure that the park will continue to be a place where you can relax and find shade beneath healthy, beautiful trees.

We can’t do this work alone. If you are interested in supporting tree care efforts on the Esplanade, please contact Michael Nichols at