Maintaining the tree canopy


Aging tree stumps disappearing, new dirt and grass appearing, boulevard trees planted and mulched, neighborhood list-serves sending out the word to residents “water the trees, it’s been such a dry season.” Bracing also for the Emerald Ash Borer attack, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Forestry division workers, with residents’ help, are busy this year getting the city’s existing tree canopy refreshed with new tree plantings.

Forestry director Ralph Sievert said about 1,000 trees were planted in Northeast Minneapolis this spring, and about 700 in North Minneapolis. An additional 100 were planted in Waite Park, a site selected for an Arbor Day celebration. These 1,800 are of about 4,000 city wide.

The other good news is the park board allocated $500,000 more than the usual $300,000 for grinding out old stumps from boulevard trees taken out. At the start of 2009 there were 7,200 stumps citywide. “We should be able to get all the backlog this year. So this year’s stumps we’ll purposely skip so we can get that backlog taken out,” Sievert said. It may seem odd to the public, but a newly cut tree will not be stumped until officials know they have the money to handle the locations that have been waiting for years.

Stump grinding costs about $145 per tree on average, and is measured on the number of inches ground. Most are ground to eight inches deep, the wood taken away and new soil mounded on top. “If we want to plant a new tree there we’ll go deeper. In the parks we may not go that deep.”

Most new trees were placed at residents’ requests, otherwise they were placed where the district forester determined. For example, a couple of residents may have requested trees, but there are other blank spots on the same block; that block may get all its spots filled at the same time. The Forestry Department will work with residents on what kind of tree to plant, “we’ll start with what’s already on the block but if they don’t like that, there are other choices,” Sievert said.

To request a new tree, call 612-313-7710. There’s information on line at but “it’s easiest to call, there are questions to ask like is it a side street or out front.”

After installation, “It’s typical we’ll hang a DVD on the door where each one is planted, explaining how to care for the new tree,” Sievert said. “We really rely on the residents to water, we could never get to them all.”

Greg Bauer, a park board equipment operator watering a tree at 18th and Polk, said they water each new tree two times for sure, after planting. The district forester, Gary Myhre for Northeast, gives workers like him a list of where the new ones have been planted. “There are some in front of rentals or vacant properties where you know no one’s going to water, and there are elderly people. There’s several hundred dollars into each of these trees not even counting the labor. We’re protecting the investment.”

Still, the message is to able residents, don’t forget to water those new trees (and even trees that have been in the ground a few years).

The watering standard, from the Forestry Department’s web site:

* Water newly planted trees thoroughly once every seven to ten days during dry periods in the spring, summer, and fall.

* Trees less than five years old need at least eight five gallon buckets of water (40 gallons) slowly poured on the roots once every seven to ten days.

* Another easy way to water your tree is to put a hose under the crown of the tree and run water gently for about an hour.

* An inch of rainfall each week is what the tree requires. You do not need to water as often when rainfall has been adequate for your tree.

Foresters also recommend maintaining a four-to-six-inch layer of mulch around trees to preserve moisture. “The coarser the mulch, the better. Using finely shredded mulch can almost act as a soil layer and can bury a tree base, possibly causing death. Do not heap the mulch around the tree trunk. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk of the tree. This will help prevent damage from excessive moisture and rodents.

If you suspect a new tree is suffering any disease, insect, fungal or other problem, you can call and ask for the tree to be inspected.

Sievert said Forestry workers are back into removing diseased elms now, so the free wood chip sites should be replenished. “We’ve been putting them out. In May we put out the grindings from the stumping and people scarfed them up. You just have to watch the sites and get there at the right time.” Residents can use the chips to refresh the mulch around trees, or for any other landscaping use.

Residents who use the free wood chips are invited to call the Northeaster/NorthNews at 612-788-0185 or send an email to to report supply conditions at the various sites–we’ll update the listings below with supply information.

North Minneapolis

Folwell Park Parking Lot

From the intersection of Dowling Avenue N and Knox Avenue N, the park entrance is east of Knox Ave. N; wood chips are in the northwest corner of the parking lot.

North Side Service Center

Glenwood Avenue Parking Lot

Wood chips are located 100 yards from the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Xerxes Avenue N in an old bus turn around/parking (south side of Glenwood Avenue)

Northeast Minneapolis

Marshall Terrace Neighborhood

Wood chips are located on the north side of 30th Avenue NE just west of Randolph Street NE along the road in a community garden just east of Marshall Street NE.

Ridgway Parkway

East of Stinson Boulevard and west of St. Anthony Parkway, north of I-35W and south of Hillside Cemetery and Sunset Memorial Park; wood chips are on south side of street in parking area.

Columbia Park

Columbia Boulevard east of Fifth Street NE and west of Central Avenue, just west of railroad overpass; wood chips are in a parking lot at the park.

There are also sites in other areas of the city. The whole list is at the Park Board’s web site.

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