City of
Madison

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Removing a city-owned tree on the terrace is a long process. It involves several steps. All of this effort and time are necessary to do the job correctly and safely.

Step One: Removal

Removing a tree is always unfortunate. Some trees die or become damaged by storms. Others decline due to disease or insects and become unsafe to remain stranding. Others need to be removed in order to make way for important public infrastructure improvements.

The decision to remove a tree is always thoughtfully evaluated and only done if necessary.

Other considerations like species preference, complaints of shading concerns or messiness will not lead to tree removals.

Tree removal takes some time to do carefully. Some trees can be removed in about a half hour, while larger ones can take half a day.

Forestry crews work to remove a tree

In the background, an arborist is using a chainsaw to reduce the height of a stump from a tree just felled.

In the foreground, in the bucket truck, another arborist begins removing branches before this tree is removed.

Notice the yellow dot on the tree trunk signifying this tree needs to be removed.

step two: inspection

A forestry specialist next visits the site to determine if a tree should be replanted

They evaluate the terrace width and other street features, like mail boxes, fire hydrants, street lights, and so on. They check, the existing canopy (both private and city-owned trees), and the determine species of other trees in the area.

Weighing all those factors, they determine if another tree should be planted here. And if a tree is appropriate, they choose what species to plant for growing a sustainable and resilient urban forest.

 

Step three: diggers hotline

Now, the stump.

After a tree has been removed and the area assessed, the stump location is given to Diggers Hotline so one of their representatives can mark the location of the utilities with flags. This for safety of the public and city staff.

step FOUR: locating utilities

While the previous step lets us know where the utility lines lie, it does not let us know how deep they are underground.

Considering that grubbing digs down into the stump and roots, we need to know just how deep they are for everyone's safety.

Hans March locates utiilities.

An operator uses a vaxcavator to locate how deep underground the utility lines are so the next step can be performed safely.

Photo taken in the summer of 2019.

step fIVE: stump grubbing

The most common question we receive about the entire tree removal process is when will the stump be removed. We cannot provide a precise estimate.

Steps three and four are crucial for safe grubbing. They must be done with great care to ensure the safety of everyone.

Certain stumps are designated as priority removals because that location will receive a tree to replace one that was previously removed.

Grubbing also depends on the time of year the tree was removed. For example, if a tree is removed late in the year, crews are not likely available to perform the other necessary steps to prepare a stump for removal because they may be collecting leaves or plowing snow.

The actual work to remove a stump can be quite slow as well. Large stumps take more time. And right-of-way areas that contain obstructions like rocks or decorations make for slow work. Weather, and personnel & equipment availability all play a role as well.

With hundreds of trees removed every year making hundreds of stumps to be grubbed, the process takes time.

 

Jamie Nichols grubs a stump.

An operator grubs a stump safely. The wood chips really fly!

Safety screens are used to protect employees from injury & damage to property.

Photo taken in the summer of 2019.

step SIX: Clean up

After we make a mess, we clean it up.

Crews clean out the mix of wood shards, rock, and dirt to be hauled away.

The hole is then filled with clean fill material (using the dirt with wood chips would cause mushrooms as the chips decay, and you'd still need extra dirt to make up for space once occupied by the stump).

And an erosion control matting & grass seed is put down.

Pete Gander cleans out a hole. Ron Grieshammer collects it for hauling.

The site is cleared with the grubbings collected to be hauled away for use by a local composting business.

Photo taken in the summer of 2019.

 

Tony Tantillo and Ron Grieshammer fill a hole.

Working to fill a hole on busy streets like Odana Rd can be tricky. You need to block traffic and work fast. Photo taken in the summer of 2019.

 

Tony Tantillo, Ron Grieshammer, and Dennis Stanzel place erosion control matting.

Holes are then covered with erosion control matting and grass seed. The matting is biodegradable. Photo taken in the summer of 2019.

step sEVEN: re-planting (in some instances)

Finally, if appropriate for the site, a new tree is planted.

Trees are only planted in the spring and the fall (arborists work on other duties during the summer like treatment and storm clean up).

You can help the tree on the terrace in front of your home grow into a mature and beneficial part of our urban forest by following our new tree care tips.