Forestry FAQ’s

Who owns the street trees located between the sidewalk and the curb?

The grass strip located between the sidewalk and curb is known by many names such as Parkway, Tree Border, Tree Lawn, Tree Terrace, etc. The Parks & Forestry Dept. refers to this area as the Tree Terrace.

Trees located in the Tree Terrace are within the public right-of-way (ROW) and are therefore City-owned.

Who is responsible for planting street trees?

The Parks & Forestry Dept. manages the tree planting program for the City under the direction of the City Forester. Trees are purchased and planted by the City or qualified contractor, funded by the Parks & Forestry Operating Budget.

May I plant my own tree in the terrace in front of my home?

There are many variables that go into the proper species selection and planting location of new street trees. Homeowners/residents may only plant street trees after first obtaining a Planting Permit from the City Forester. Often it is easier to apply for a Service Request for Tree Planting.

Warning! Unauthorized excavation within the public ROW can be extremely dangerous and even fatal if underground utilities accidentally are struck with a digging tool.

What is the process for replacing street trees, can I request one?

When existing City-owned street trees are removed the Parks & Forestry Dept. automatically schedules a replacement tree if there are no conflicts with underground utilities. Tree planting then follows in the most appropriate season once the site is available for planting.

Please note: due to budget limitations it may take a year or two after the stump has been removed to get a new tree planted. Homeowners/residents may expedite the process by contacting the City Forester at (262) 375-7662, x4 and creating a Service Request for Tree Planting.

Who is responsible for pruning street trees?

Street tree pruning is conducted by the Parks & Forestry Dept. or qualified contractor under the direction of the City Forester. Homeowners/residents may only prune street trees after first obtaining a Permit from the City Forester. Often, it is easier to apply for a Service Request for Tree Pruning.

When and how often are street trees pruned?

Most street tree pruning is conducted during the winter months, in-between snow storms. The number of street trees pruned annually is directly related to the severity of the winter. One of the goals of the Parks & Forestry Dept. is to establish a pruning cycle for all street trees of between 5-7 years. Due to staffing and funding limitations this has been very difficult. If you feel the street trees in front of your home are over-due for pruning, please contact the City Forester (262) 375-7662, x4 to create a Service Request for Tree Pruning.

What is the process for having a street tree removed?

If you think the street tree adjacent to your home should be removed, please contact the City Forester (262) 375-7662, x4 and request an inspection. It is the policy of the City not to remove healthy street trees. Requests for removal of healthy City-owned trees that are refused may be referred to the Parks & Forestry Board. If the Board approves your request for tree removal, such approval will be subject to your paying for the appraised tree value and removal and replacement costs. It is unlawful to remove a City-owned street tree without first obtaining a Removal Permit from the City Forester.

I think the roots from a street tree are blocking my drains. Can I get this tree removed?

Tree roots do not cause drains or sewer pipes to break, but they will invade and clog drains that have pre-existing cracks and resultant leakage. Drains are usually six to eight feet below ground level, while tree roots grow almost exclusively in the upper two feet of soil, because they not only need nutrients, but also oxygen to survive. When drains leak, they provide oxygen and nutrient rich water deep in the soil, which allow tree roots to grow deep into the soil and get into the already cracked drain pipe.

It is the policy of City to not approve the removal of trees due to drain and/or sewer blockages.

Replacement of old drains or weeping tiles with new PVC piping, continuous between the house and sewer, eliminates future blockages by tree roots.

The roots from a City street tree are heaving my sidewalk. What should I do?

The sidewalk replacement program is under the direction of the Assistant Engineer. He can be contacted at (262) 375-7612.

Can the City force my neighbor to cut down his/her privately owned tree?

With regard to privately owned trees, the City Forester only has jurisdiction over private trees that are in close proximity to the public ROW and threaten the life, health, safety, or property of the public using the ROW; or trees that are infected with an infectious tree disease or insect infestation. Property line tree disputes are considered a civil matter between private property owners and are not under the jurisdiction of the City Forester.

Can I prune the branches from my neighbor’s tree that overhang my property?

Three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property are:

1. You cannot trespass onto your neighbor’s property; 2. You cannot damage your neighbor’s property (in this case a tree); 3. You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition.

It is therefore best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves with respect to trees overhanging property lines. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbor and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer. The act of pruning trees on neighboring private property affects private property rights and is considered a civil matter between private property owners. The City has no jurisdiction with respect to such issues. A qualified tree expert such as an ISA Certified Arborist should always be retained to carry out tree pruning.

Can I get free firewood or wood chip mulch from the City?

City residents can pick up free wood chip mulch from the DPW Yard located at W59 N306 Johnson Ave. from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM Mon.-Thurs. (7:30 AM to 11:00 AM Friday’s) and on Saturday’s during scheduled yard waste drop-off times. DPW staff are not permitted to load trucks or trailers using City equipment.

The Parks & Forestry Dept. is currently working on a Firewood Policy to regulate the dissemination of wood generated from tree removals.