Strive to plant trees with diversity in mind. If you already have more than one tree of the same species on your property, seek out a different species, preferably native to the area. Remember to plant the ‘Right Tree in the Right Location’, meaning that the location is conducive to its soil moisture and light needs. There are several resources for finding quality trees in our area. Container trees or bare root trees are a good option, as they are easier to plant, and are usually offered at a relatively low cost. Consider buying from a local tree sale for an even more economical option.
Native Tree Species to consider when replanting (this is not a comprehensive list):
- Basswood (Linden) Tilia Americana
- Big Tooth Aspen Populus grandidentata
- Bur Oak Quercus macrocarpa
- Cathedral Elm Ulmus ‘Cathedral’
- Hackberry Celtis occidentalis
- Honeylocust Gleditsia triacanthos
- Ironwood Ostrya virginiana
- Kentucky Coffee Tree Gymnocladus dioicus
- St. Croix American Elm Ulmus Americana ‘St. Croix’
- Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor
- White Oak Quercus alba
Tree Planting and Care
Trees can provide many benefits in your landscape, however, not every tree is a good choice for your yard or for the location. Incorporate Right Tree, Right Place strategies (outlined below) when planning your landscape.
- Research your tree species before deciding on a location. Consider the mature height and spread (width), light conditions, moisture conditions, and climate conditions before choosing a tree.
- Plant your tree at least 3 feet from pavement or fencing, 15 feet from buildings or other trees, and 25 feet from overhead utility lines if your tree will reach a height of 20 feet or greater.
- Find the main root system, and remove any excess soil. This will also allow you to better identify the root collar (see figure below). When you plant your tree, it should only be planted deep enough to cover the root system. The root collar should always remain exposed. Planting a tree too deep is one of the most common causes of tree mortality in the landscape!
- Dig the hole for planting at 2-3 times the width of the root ball, and backfill with the same soil. Call 8-1-1 before you dig!
- Water, and cover with 2-4 inches of mulch, pulled away from the trunk so that none touches the bark.
- Only stake your tree if the trunk is bending, or the root ball is unstable.
- Water your tree in the first 1-3 years, and do not prune the first year. Young trees need extra watering in the fall, before the ground freezes.
- Check your tree annually for necessary care; such as mulch depth, trunk protection, root collar cleaning, encircling roots, safety, necessary pruning, and general health.
- Protect your tree from animal and rodent damage, as well as sunscald (damage to bark caused by reflected sunlight from snow in late winter/early spring). Protect trees by wrapping and/or covering the trunk with a flexible, vinyl tree guard in October. Remove in late spring to prevent mold, disease, and girdling.
- For more on backyard landscaping, and sustainable landscaping, see the Sustainable Landscaping Page.
Tree pruning should be done when necessary for the safety and health of the tree. Occasionally trees on City property or within the City’s Right-Of-Way (ROW) need to be pruned or removed for safety, disease, or maintenance operations. This will be done by City Staff or contractors hired by the City.
If a tree on your property needs to be pruned, here are some tips to remember:
- If removing the branch poses any kind of safety hazard, including branches that are touching or near an overhead utility line, do not attempt to prune it yourself. Call your utility company (if near a utility line) or a tree care company.
- Remove branches that pose a safety hazard. Contact a tree care professional when necessary.
- Prune out branches that cross, touch, or rub other branches.
- Do not remove more than ¼ of live branches within one season. Never ‘top’ a tree (cutting all branches in the crown to the same length or not at a branch junction).
- Prune only at branch junctions, and leave ¼ inch notch just above the junction.
- The safest time to prune most shade trees, in order to prevent spreading of disease, is November 1st – March 1st.
Utility Tree Pruning: Utility companies occasionally need to preform tree pruning & maintenance on trees near power lines for safety and outage prevention. Brush and debris may be left on your property following trimming or removal, however this is usually removed within 48 hours. For questions regarding tree trimming and removal performed by Xcel, please call 800-895-4999.
For more information on tree planting and care, you may reference these resources: