City of


Collage of Forestry Services: pruning, stump removal, tree planting, and tree specialist consultation

About Us

The Forestry section of the Streets Division provides tree planting, pruning, and maintenance for over 96,000 trees along more than 700 miles of Madison streets.

Forestry staff takes great pride in our rigid safety standards; whether planting a new tree or cleaning up after a major storm, we are dedicated to the safety of workers, residents, and property.


Maple Tapping

Tapping maples in the terrace for any reason is not allowed.

Tapping of street trees is prohibited by ordinance. Tapping trees damages them and can spread disease.


Work on Oak trees

As a reminder, a permit is required to work on any oak within the City of Madison starting April 1st.

The permit is free and required until October 15th.

Permit are issued on an emergency basis and a bid for a consultation from a private arborist must be obtained as well.


street tree lighting

You must obtain a permit before installing lighting in a street tree.


Forestry spring 2021 planting update

The Spring 2021 Planting Season will occur from approximately the end of March through the End of May 2021.

The speed of planting is dictated primarily by weather. If there are concerns about after the tree has been planted, please call 608 266 4816. Crews are being COVID-safe.

If sod has been damaged or rutted; East 608 246 4532, West 608 266 4681

Expect to see underground utility markings in advance of Streets staff working on vaxcavating and planting street trees. There are 1500 sites in total that will have new trees installed. 

With so many trees planted this year (and every year) it is important you help by caring for the new trees by watering them until the first hard frost has occurred. Especially during any sustained dry periods this summer. 


How did COVID-19 affect tree planting?

Standard tree planting procedures for terrace trees require arborists 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.



Replanting City-Owned Street Trees

The City of Madison uses the "Right Tree in the Right Place" best management practices supported by the International Society of Arboriculture and the Arbor Day Foundation when determining which kind of tree to plant.

This criterion promotes urban forest diversity and is applied equitably throughout the city.

Forestry plants in the spring and again in the fall, and most trees will be replaced within three planting cycles.

Per Madison General Ordinance 10.10, the Forestry section determines tree type, species, and planting location. In order to have a diverse and resilient urban forest, resident’s tree species request are not permitted.

For more information, please see our FAQs. 


Door Tags

When responding to a tree concern, Forestry staff will leave a door tag with information regarding inspection results and any next steps.

More information about door tags can be found here.


Private Tree Concerns

Private trees are those not located within public parks, golf courses, cemeteries, or the city right-of-way.

If your neighborhood has sidewalks, the right-of-way (also known as the terrace) is typically the area between the sidewalk and the street. If you do not have a sidewalk, the right-of-way is the space between the street and your property line.

Private oaks are covered by the City of Madison General Ordinances. From April 1st though October 15th, work on private oaks must be permitted. The permit is free but requires an inspection by Urban Forestry staff. More information can be found here.

Damage to private trees is the property owner's responsibility. We recommend residents contact certified arborists for private tree needs. For more information on finding a certified arborist near you, please visit the Wisconsin Arborist Association.

If you have a concern about a private tree that is not on your property, please contact the City of Madison Building Inspection.