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Only half of spring plantings will occur due to COVID-19

The Streets Division’s Urban Forestry section’s spring tree planting season is underway.

Due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, the number trees planted this spring will be half of what crews would plant during a normal spring season.

Many residents who are expecting a tree to be planted on the city right-of-way terrace in front of their home this spring may instead receive the tree during the fall planting season.

Where and how will the spring planting occur?
Urban Forestry will plant in areas of Madison recently completed road reconstruction projects or in areas where planting was explicitly scheduled to occur this spring, such as new developments.

Using a combination of vehicles and personnel responsibly spaced for proper social distancing, crews will be able perform the planting in way that will be safe for both the employee and the tree while maximizing the number of trees that can be planted this season.

How did COVID-19 cause a delay in planting trees?
Standard tree planting procedures for terrace trees require arborist to work in close proximity to each other.

Trees selected for planting in the terraces are mostly “balled and burlapped” trees. They were harvested from nurseries with soil and roots balled up and contained within burlap to be ready for planting. This kind of tree stock improves the chances that the trees survive in the terrace.

Balled and burlapped trees are very heavy, approaching 300 pounds. Since they are so heavy, under normal conditions arborists work very close to each other as they position the tree into the ground. (An example of planting a balled and burlapped tree can be found on the Indiana DNR’s YouTube page.)

With social distancing, the standard planting procedure is not possible.

Crews will be spaced out and fewer arborists will be working to position the tree safely into the ground. In many cases, just a single arborist will be performing the work on placing the tree into the ground.

This will slow down the planting process.

Residents expecting a tree planted in the right of way in front of their homes this spring may instead receive the tree in the fall due to the slower planting.

How many trees will be planted this spring and how many does that mean will be planted in the fall?
The goal is to plant approximately 900 trees during the spring planting season with more plantings this fall.

The number of trees that can be planted in the fall depends on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and if crews will be able to return to normal planting procedures. Urban Forestry is committed to planting as many trees as possible that in a manner that is healthy for the trees and safe for the arborists.

Additional Information
Additional information about the Urban Forestry section of the Streets Division can be found at