Tree Preservation Policy

City of Dubuque Tree Preservation Policy

This policy shall regulate the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees and shrubs in
public rights-of-way


For the purpose of this policy the following terms, phrases, words and their
derivations shall have the meaning given herein.

1. City is the City of Dubuque, Iowa.
2. Leisure Services Department is the designated department of the City under whose jurisdiction trees in public rights-of-way fall.
3. City Forester is the qualified designated official assigned to carry out this policy's enforcement.
4. Planting lawn is the area between the street (or back of curb) and sidewalk.
5. Street tree is a tree located in the planting lawn.
6. Small trees are designated as those attaining a height of fifteen (15) to thirty-five (35) feet.
7. Medium trees are designated as those attaining a height of thirty-five (35) to forty (40) feet.
8. Large trees are designated as those attaining a height of forty (40) to sixty (60) feet.
9. Undesirable trees are trees not suitable for use as street trees because of one or more of the following characteristics: thorn production, weak
branching habit, messy fruit production, disease susceptibility, et cetera.
10. Landscaping is improving the planting lawn or other public right-of-way by planting trees and shrubs for functional and aesthetic purposes.
11. Immediate danger or threat is a tree condition that risks public safety and requires the immediate attention of the City Forester.


A. General Requirements
1. No trees are to be planted in any planting lawn, which is less than
three (3) feet in width. In planting lawns that measure between three (3) and five (5) feet in width,  both small and .medium size trees may be planted; and in planting lawns with a minimum of five (5) feet in width, large trees may be planted.
2. Small trees shall be used where overhead lines or building setback
present special problems, no matter what the size of the planting
3. Trees shall be planted at least fifty (50) feet from the edge of street
intersections, traffic control lights and stop signs, and at least ten (10)
feet from driveways and fifteen (15) feet for alleys. Exact location will
be determined according to the type of tree to be planted.
4. No tree shall be planted closer than ten (10) feet from a street light,
utility pole, water shut-off, sewer lateral, or other underground utility.
5. Spacing of trees shall be determined by the City Forester according to
local conditions, the species, cultivars, or varieties used, and their mature height, spread, and form. Generally, all large trees shall be planted forty (40) to sixty (60) feet apart; all medium trees shall be planted a minimum of thirty-five (35) feet apart; and all small trees shall be planted a minimum of twenty-five (25) feet apart.
6. Only the Leisure Services Department or those contracted or approved by the Leisure Services Department shall plant, spray, fertilize, preserve, prune, remove, cut above ground, or otherwise disturb any tree located on a public right-of-way. All tree care practices shall conform to the standards approved by the National Arborist Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, and the American National Standard ANSI 2133.1 Safety Requirements.
7. If a property owner or tenant has planted an undesirable tree or after
September 15, 1988, plants a tree that does not meet the specifications set forth in this policy, the Leisure Services Department shall notify the property owner or tenant of this policy and ask that the tree be removed. If the tree is not removed by the date established, the City will remove the tree at the City's expense.
8. a. A City street tree found to be causing or raising problems with
sidewalks will be removed by the city, only when it meets
predetermined criteria as determined by the City Forester. These criteria are set to prevent the indiscriminant removal of a valuable resource. City street trees will be removed only when one or more of the following criteria are met:
+ The tree is in a state of decline due to disease or insect pest for which there is no likelihood of a cure.
-+ The tree poses a safety risk that cannot be corrected or where an unreasonable safety risk would be created by the construction process or root pruning.
+ Where work improvements required to be made around the tree will likely kill the tree or render it a hazard.
+ Where tree preservation is not cost effective compared to the value to the trees monetary value.
+ The tree poses an extreme public nuisance because of its species, size, location, fruit & seed drop, limb breakage or other objectionable condition.
+ The aesthetic value of the tree is extremely low or where the tree interferes with the growth and development of a more desirable tree.

When a city street tree's roots or root has been found to be causing or raising problems with the sidewalk and the tree's removal is not an option, the sidewalk repair will be made using one of the approved replacement modifications which best corrects the sidewalk anomaly while minimizing harm to the tree.

City street trees found to be causing cracking or raising problems for City curbs or streets or causing intersection site problems or non-sidewalk related public safety problems (such as dead or dying trees) shall be removed by the City when it is determined they cannot be saved or branches or roots cannot be pruned properly. The adjacent property owner shall be given a five working days notice by regular U.S. mail that the
tree is to be removed and the reasons for such removal. The notice shall include a provision that the adjacent property owner may appeal such removal to the City Manager. Such appeal must be in writing to the City Manager within the five working day period. This notice and appeal does not apply to a tree posing an immediate danger or threat to public safety,
requiring immediate removal.

9. When a tree is removed from a planting lawn, the City shall replace it.
provided budget considerations and the specifications of this policy allow.
If a property owner wishes a tree planted where one does not exist, the City shall provide 50 percent of the cost to plant the tree, provided budget consideration and the specifications of this policy allow. If the City is unable to fund the replacement, or share the cost of adding a tree, the property owner may finance the purchase of a tree and the Leisure Services Department will plant it. The property owner may plant this tree provided the City Forester has approved the tree type and its location.

10. When the tree removed is from a planting lawn less than three (3) feet
in width, the City may provide and plant a tree beyond the sidewalk on
private property (in the front yard) at the request of the property owner
(based on site suitability as determined by the City Forester) and if budget considerations allow. Such tree then becomes the property and responsibility of the property owner.

11. When special conditions or circumstances arise which are not directly
covered in this policy, the Leisure Services Department shall make a
decision on the course of action to be taken, based upon an evaluation of the situation.

12. The selection of the type of street tree to be planted shall be made by
the City Forester, after considering the wishes of the property owner.

B. Types of Trees Allowed
1. This policy contains a listing of small, medium and large trees prepared by the City Forester for planting as street trees. Undesirable trees shall not be recommended for general planting and their use, if any, shall be restricted to special locations where, because of certain characteristics of adaptability or for landscape effect, they can be used to advantage.

2. Only desirable, long-lived trees of good appearance, beauty, adaptability, and generally free from injurious insects or disease shall
be planted as street trees. The City Forester shall review at least once every two (2) years the species, cultivars, and varieties included on the lists to determine if any should be removed for any reason.

C. Planting

1. Size
Unless otherwise specified by the City Forester, all small deciduous tree species, and their cultivars or varieties, shall be at least five (5) to six (6) feet or more in height, have six (6) or more branches, and shall be at least one (1) inch in diameter six (6) inches above ground level.
All medium and large deciduous tree species and their cultivars and
varieties shall be at least one and one-fourth (1 1/4) to one and onehalf
(1 1/2) inches in diameter six (6) inches above ground level, and at least eight (8) to ten (10) feet in height when planted. The crown shall be in good balance with the trunk.

2. Grade
Unless otherwise allowed for specific reasons, all trees shall have
comparatively straight trunks, well-deyeloped leaders and tops, and roots characteristic of the species, cultivar or variety showing evidence of proper nursery pruning. All trees must be free of insects, disease, mechanical injury, and other objectionable features at the time of planting, and conform to standards set forth in American Standards for Nursery Stock.

3. Depth
All trees planted on City right-of-way shall be planted so that the trees' buttress root flare is at-grade.

D. Pruning and Removal

1. Pruning
Topping or dehorning of trees shall not be permitted, except by written
permission of the Leisure Services Department.
Established trees shall be pruned over the tree's lifetime to allow free
passage of pedestrian and vehicular traffic; over time to attain a
desired branch height of ten (10) feet over sidewalks and fourteen (14) feet over streets and alleys. A tree's age, size, location, condition and natural form are factors, which will determine the extent of pruning.

2. Stump Removal
The stumps of trees removed shall be cut to at least six (6) inches below the ground, and soil shall be replaced and the area leveled. If the area where the tree is removed is to be paved, the tree shall be cut or stump removed at least eight (8) inches below the ground.


The above "Street Tree Section II" does not speak to, permit, or regulate, the planting of groups of trees and shrubs for landscaping purposes on public rights-of-way.
This "Section III" shall govern the planting, maintaining and removal of groups of trees and shrubs on public rights-of-way for landscaping purposes.

1. Landscaping and/or screening required by the City's Zoning Ordinance shall not be placed on City right-of-way.

2. No trees and shrubs shall be planted in the planting lawn or other public
right-of-way for landscaping purposes without first obtaining approval of the
City Manager.

3. The approval of the City Manager will be in the form of a revocable permit to plant trees and shrubs for landscaping purposes in the public right-of-way.

The applicant must agree to plant and maintain the trees and shrubs
according to an approved site plan and further agree to be responsible for
any and all liability arising from the planting of trees and shrubs on City
property. The work must be done by a responsible and insured contractor
approved by the City Engineering Division.

4. Requests for such approval shall be made to the City Manager in writing and include a site plan showing the varieties and placement of the trees and shrubs to be planted on City right-of-way and who is to do the work.

5. Trees and shrubs planted on City right-of-way without City approval will be removed by the property owner or tenant after receiving notification from the City. If the trees and shrubs are not removed by the date established, the City will do the removal at the City's expense.


A. Purpose
The purpose of this section is to prevent or minimize damage to street trees
as a result of street construction activities. This section provides for an
administrative procedure to follow when street trees are encountered in
street, sewer, water, or utility construction projects.

B. Policy
1. Administrative Procedures
Street and utility construction activities will, in many cases, cause
varying degrees of damage to street trees. For this reason, the City
Forester shall act to advise other City Departments and private contractors when street construction activities will be taking place within ten (10) feet of a street tree.

The outlined procedures will be followed by all City Departments and
contractors working within the public right-of-way:

a. The City Forester shall be used as a technical resource in the design and construction specification writing phase of City construction projects to identify issues and potential problems relating to street trees, which could arise from the construction activities.
b. Prior to the construction of a qty street or utility construction contract, a project representative will walk the project area with the City Forester to determine what specific procedures should be followed to protect adjacent street trees. These procedures will be incorporated into the project specifications.
c. The City Forester, or appropriate representative, shall be invited to the project pre-construction meeting with the contractor to emphasize the importance of protecting the trees while the work is progressing.
d. The City Forester will attend public meetings and hearings (as needed) on projects where potential damage to street trees has been identified by prior inspection and review. Trees intended for trimming will be identified in the specifications and the public involvement process.
e. The City Forester shall be available when called by the Engineering Division to monitor the progress of the contractor and to advise the City Departments or private contractor if the work is not proceeding according to the adopted specifications relating to tree protection, or if the specifications should be altered during the progress of the work.
f. The City Forester will be available to discuss in greater detail the anticipated effect on the tree, and to answer property owner's questions.
g. For privately contracted work, the contracting authority and the
contractor shall be responsible for the protection of street trees pursuant to this policy.

2. Tree Removal
City Street trees found to be growing over existing curbs or located too close to the curb or utility being placed,upgraded or replaced such that
reconstruction of the curb is not feasible without causing death of the tree,
the tree will be removed by the Contractor. In such cases, the adjacent
property owner shall be notified as outlined above.

Trees removed for construction projects will be replaced as part of the City
construction contract at no cost to the property owners if the planting lawn is a minimum of three (3) feet wide and meets other established guidelines
outlined in this policy. Replacement of removed trees shall be done during
normal planting seasons after the construction work has been completed.

3. Construction Practices
The construction specifications will outline specific procedures to be followed by the contractor, along with tree damage liabilities, including penalties and costs of damage remediation.

Prior to the commencement of construction, City Forestry crew will prune
street trees extending over the roadw~y, which could be damaged.
Contractors shall notify the City if damage is done beyond the level
anticipated, and repairs to trees damaged during construction will be made
by the contractor. When trees are damaged or destroyed due to negligence or non-compliance, the contractor shall be required to pay for the necessary cost of repairs, removals, replacements and to reim.burse the City for loss of value.

Loss of value will be determined by the City Forester, using the most recent
edition of The Council of Tree & Landscape Appraisers, Guide for Plant

The following specific suggestions will best protect and preserve our street
trees, and reduce the chance of liability in the event of their failure.
• All heavy equipment (other than hand tools) shall be kept off of the
planting lawn under the drip line of any tree.· when trees are :on the
• The planting lawn will not, to the extent possible, be cut into or disturbed
in any way. within the trees' drip line. This includes creating setbacks for
new curb and gutter, accommodating slip form pavers, reducing the
height of the planting lawn or where an alternative exists, trenching or
digging for utilities.

Curb and gutter removal will be done in such a way as to minimize any
damage to the tree's root system or above ground parts

At no time shall the tracks or tires of the excavator/backhoe or pavement
grinder, et cetera, be allowed to ride on the curb or planting lawn within a
tree's drip line where it would case damage to the roots, buttress root
flair, trunk or crown of the tree, without protective measures in place to
protect the tree and avoid soil compaction.

+ At no time shall construction equipment or materials, including gravel,
sand or soil, be stored on the surface of any unpaved area within a
protected tree's drip line.
+ At no time shall chemicals, rinsates or petroleum products be deposited
within the drip line of city street trees.
+ Exposed tree roots shall be protected direct sunlight and air with wet burlap following curb and gutter removal if backfilling isn't completed by the end of the same workday. Prior to backfilling, all lime stone base and construction materials shall be removed from behind the newly poured curb and gutter. Backfilling should be completed with hand tools to avoid compaction.

Only a friable clay loam soil shall be used as a backfill soil. Backfill soil
shall be free of rock and other construction debris.

+ Where possible and specified by the City Forester, orange plastic barrier fencing or snow fence will be erected to protect trees and their root
zones. The fencing shall be installed prior to construction and not removed until after final clean up of the construction site.
+ To preserve viable root systems and maintain structural stability of a tree,
it is requiredthat all underground utility placement or replacement, to the
extent possible, be done by boring or tunneling beneath the root systems
of the tree with open cut excavating done only outside of the tree's drip

"Trenching/Tunneling Near Trees" by Dr. James R. Fazio shall be used
as a guide by qualified utility workers.

+ If a root must be cut and removed or a damaged root pruned, a clean cut
shall be made with a sharp cutting tool. The following sequence shall be

1. expose the root by hand using hand tools such as shovel, trowel;
2. make a clean cut with a sharp tool such as a hand pruner or hand
saw and in the event of larger roots, a chain saw; (root grinding is not
an option);
3. remove root;
4. protect exposed root or backfill.

+ Curb and gutter replacement adjacent to street trees can be made with a
slip form paver only if the paver can be accommodated without any
additional alterations to the existing planting lawn.· Where insufficient
.room does not exist, the area will be poured using hand set steel forms.
Expansion joint or masonite may be necessary for forming around the
base of trees where conventional forms will not fit. Non-linier paving
(bump outs) skip overs and narrower streets are all options to consider
for avoiding root injury.
+ Where.sidewalk replacement is necessary, care should be taken to avoid
injury to the tree's root system. Sidewalk repairs should be made using
one of the approved replacement modifications, which best corrects the
sidewalk anomaly while minimizing harm to the tree. Surface roots less
than two(2) diameter may be cut when necessary, making
clean pruning cuts to a maximum depth just below the finished grade of
the new walk. The root system should be cut no further than five (5)
inches away from the edge of the proposed new walk to accommodate its
• At no time shall the planting lawn grade be changed by removing soil or
through the addition of soil within the tree's drip line.
+ When a situation should arise with the potential to cause harm to the
tree, which is clearly not addressed by this policy guideline, the
Engineering Department and City Forester shall be consuited to
determine the best course of action.
4. Soil Quality

Soil to be used as backfill within the right-of-way shall be a friable topsoil. It
shall not contain admixtures of subsoil and shall be free of lumps larger than two (2) inches in diameter, stones, plants or their roots and construction matter or debris.

Adopted:October 3, 1988
Revised:February 21, 1994
Revised:January 11, 1999
Revised:April 12,2000
Revised:July 9, 2001
Revised:May 16, 2004