Tree Planting, Pruning, & Removals
The City of Middleton currently has 9,167 street trees, 2,210 trees within active parklands, and thousands more in conservancy areas spread throughout the city. It is our goal to foster the existing urban forest and to promote its growth. We strive to identify pest and disease issues at an early stage to ensure the smallest impact possible on our trees and welcome calls regarding concerns residents may have with trees when they see them.
Generally speaking, trees and construction do not go well together. A wide variety of damages can occur to a tree, and trees can be damaging to structures as well.
Damage that can happen to trees: Damage that can happen to property:
Broken branches/limbs from machinery Heaving/cracking of sidewalk/curb/driveway/foundations
Scraping bark from trunks Clogging of sewer/storm-water pipes
Compaction of soil due to heavy equipment Scraping of paint/roof shingles on homes
Root loss due to excavation
Proper tree selection and placement are crucial in minimizing these situations!
Most damage occurs when construction of some type takes place around existing trees. At the same time, proper planning and foresight can minimize or eliminate the effects of construction altogether. Prior to home construction or remodeling projects it would be wise to plan for potential issues. Many people buy wooded lots for homes areas and find that in 5-7 years after construction is over all of their trees have suffered considerable die-back or completely died. The same can happen in neighborhoods with well-established trees.
Trees that reside between the sidewalk and road (often referred to as the terrace) fall under City ownership and as such the City is responsible for pruning and removal as necessary. Current city ordinances (Chapter 20) require a minimum sidewalk clearance of 10 feet and a road minimum clearance of 14 feet.
Unfortunately, current staffing levels and budgetary constraints dictate pruning and removal activities in Middleton. This translates into a policy of addressing hazardous tree issues (i.e. storm damage, broken limbs, split trunks) as close to immediately as possible; street, sign, and sidewalk clearance issues second; and minor deadwood and form pruning being lowest on the priority list.
Tree pruning under and around power lines is not conducted by city staff. This is handled by the utility companies themselves and they are regulated by law as to how much pruning is needed.
Clearance pruning of street trees by trained city staff is normally done during the winter months when time allows (when the city is not dealing with plowing snow). This is unfortunate as clearance pruning of trees has generally fallen behind from desired pruning cycles. This has the unintended result of streets with tree branches that are well below 14 ft. and a higher than desired amount of pruning conducted when pruning finally does occur. This is a practice that needs to be addressed and modified to regain the desired pruning cycle.
It is not permissible for a resident to prune city street trees. However if you do wish to have a city street tree(s) pruned to a greater degree or in a faster manner than what the city can provide, please contact the City Forester/Horticulturist, Mark Wegner, and you may be issued a permit to have a licensed, professional tree service do the work for you. We require this in order to maintain proper pruning techniques, to accurately track tree care activities, and to protect the city from liability issues.
For guidance on pruning trees in your own yard, please feel free to contact the City Forester.
Removal of street trees are avoided whenever possible. When the City does remove a street tree, it most often falls into one of these categories: storm damaged or hazardous (more than 50% dead, cracked trunk); extensive root damage due to sidewalk/curb replacement (prone to falling over due to instability); extensive decay due to fungi or insects (Ganoderma, ants); diseased or infected (oak wilt, dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer).
As with pruning, the City currently has limitations on what we can handle ourselves. Most trees under 14” DBH (diameter at breast height, about the size of a take home frozen pizza) can be handled by city crews. Trees larger than this, around power lines, or highly hazardous are removed by contractors. Trees that pose immediate threats to people and/or property are addressed as soon as the city is aware of them, while the remainder of the trees slated for removal are grouped along with the trees in need of pruning and sent for contractor bidding.
Removal of street trees by residents is not permitted. If you feel that your tree is a threat to your property or others, please call 821-8360 and the City Forester will come and assess the tree in question.