Little is known of the motives of residents for planting and removing garden trees in Western cities and nothing is known of the motives related to planting and removing different types of trees. We test the hypotheses that attitudes towards trees are reflected in the planting and removal of trees in general and of different types of urban trees, and that attitude syndromes are related to socioeconomic, demographic and spatial characteristics. A questionnaire asked for information on motives for planting and removing trees in general, and on actual planting and removal of trees in the last five years. Responses to questions about motives, to other questions on the values and problems of trees, and to a photo-elicitation section were numerically classified to derive seven classes of residents: aesthetes; spiritual tree lovers; practical tree lovers; arboriphobes; native wildlife lovers; tree hazard minimisers; and indifferents. Membership of classes was influenced by income, tertiary education and gender, but not age, negative experiences of trees or ownership status, indicating that attitudes may be relatively durable and not easily amenable to change. Attitudes tended to be expressed in actions. Variation between attitude groups in the types of trees they prefer combined with turnover of property ownership may be responsible for a lack of old urban trees. Urban planners and land managers interested in influencing resident decisions about private trees need to address variation in attitudes between different segments of the population.