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.
Forestry update - spring planting numbers
With social distancing practices in place, arborist crews were spread out, which slowed the planting of trees in the terrace.
During a normal spring, arborists would be able to plant roughly 1,700 to 1,800 trees. Due to the pandemic and the distancing of crews necessary to keep everyone safe, arborists were only able to plant half the typical number.
This past spring, arborists planted 848 trees. This leaves 883 trees to be planted in the fall of 2020 that, in a normal year, would have been planted during the spring.
Where did 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 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.
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.
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. Unfortunately, residents are not permitted to request specific trees.
For more information, please see our FAQs.
When responding to a tree concern, Forestry staff will leave a door tag with information regarding inspection results and any next steps.
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.
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.