Tree Care and Maintenance

City street tree pruning and tree removals are scheduled during the winter months from November through March and again during the growing season as needed. The Parks and Forestry Division perform maintenance and removals to parks trees, City street trees, street tree branches that obstruct City signage, branches that do not meet vehicular clearance requirements of 14 feet or more, branches that do not meet sidewalk clearance requirements of 8 feet or more and for other public street tree emergencies.

Trees on private property should be maintained by the property owners. The Parks and Forestry Division does not perform any private tree maintenance or removals. If a private tree or tree branch that could cause potential harm to users of the City right-of-way areas or City streets, that tree is deemed hazardous and the property owner of that tree will receive a letter to correct the hazard in a timely manner.

The Superintendent of Parks and Forestry marks and schedules removals and pruning of City-owned hazardous trees and branches deemed necessary for public safety as time permits. The division tree pruning schedule is on a six-year cycle according to aldermanic districts. There are four aldermanic districts within the City and tree pruning takes place in one district at a time for one and a half years.

The Parks and Forestry Division grinds all tree stumps from tree removals with top priority going to tree removals done from the previous year. Stump grinding takes place in the spring and fall each year and consists of grinding the stump below ground level, removing the grindings and then adding topsoil, grass seed and straw for cover. The homeowner is responsible for watering the newly seeded areas.

Please do not perform any tree maintenance on any City-owned street trees. If you have a City street tree pruning or City street tree maintenance request, please fill out the Street Tree Maintenance Request Form or pick one up at our Parks, Recreation and Forestry main office. If you suspect there is a hazardous City-owned street tree, please report it to the Superintendent of Parks and Forestry (262) 569-2180.

Utility Tree Maintenance

The Parks and Forestry Division do not perform any utility line clearance tree pruning or removals. If you should have a utility right-of-way adjacent to your property and there is a tree that needs maintenance or removing, please contact Oconomowoc Utilities at (262) 569-2196.

Why Do We Prune Street Trees?

The City of Oconomowoc Parks and Forestry Division prune park and street trees for the following reasons:
  • Safety Our division strives to keep all City-owned street tree branches above 14 feet street clearance to minimize vehicular vision issues that could potentially cause accidents, ensuring drivers can see oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and traffic signs clearly. Also a concern is clearance for larger trucks as lower branches in the streets can damage a tree or their trucks. The Department of Public Works provides an important environmental service of sweeping the streets and curbs clean. Providing street tree clearance ensures that their large street sweepers can get close to the curbs to sweep them clean so the debris does not end up in our lakes and streams. Our division also tries to keep all City-owned street tree branches 8 feet or above sidewalk clearance so pedestrians can safely walk on sidewalks without getting hit in the head with branches and it also minimizes pedestrians from walking into the street to avoid the low hanging vegetation as they are walking. We also prune park trees for safety removing dead, dying, diseased, undesirable branches and for mower and other equipment clearance.
  • To improve the overall health, structure and aesthetic appearance of trees  Trees add value and beauty to your property. Trees that are pruned are likely to live longer and be stronger and healthier compared to trees not pruned. Unpruned trees can develop multiple leaders, included bark and take on other undesirable forms that may potentially cause our division to come in during non-working hours to clean up a failed tree. Trees are more able to withstand environmental stresses such as ice, wind, snow and other storm damage with a proper preventative tree care and management plan.

Storm Damage Cleanup

Many types of storms occur throughout the year that cause damage to trees. The Parks and Forestry Division maintain the City right-of-ways, streets and parks for any fallen woody debris from City-owned trees. If a private tree should fall into the street from a storm event, the Parks and Forestry Division will clean up the fallen debris only in the right-of-way areas and leave the remainder of the private tree for the property owner to take care of.

What Do I Do With Wood Waste?

The City of Oconomowoc contracts waste and recycling services through John's Disposal. Visit our Public Works page for more information on refuse, recycling and yard waste. For more information, call John's Disposal at (262) 473-4700.

Mulch and Firewood for the Public

All City-owned tree removals performed by the Parks and Forestry Division and Oconomowoc Utilities are chipped up and brought to the Department of Public Works Municipal Yard at 101 Forest St. by Roosevelt Park. Wood mulch is free and available to the public . The wood mulch pile is on a first come, first serve basis and the City will not load any mulch for you.

Fire wood cut from City street trees or parks and green space trees is piled to the right of the Municipal Yard entrance gate and is free and available to public. The pile is on a first come, first serve basis and the City will not load any fire wood for you. If the fire wood pieces are too large for you to handle, you may cut them up into smaller pieces at your own risk.

Mulch and Tree Health

Properly applied, mulch rings provide many benefits to trees. Those benefits include; providing an insulation layer keeping the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, protection from lawn mower and string trimmer damage, improving soil structure, drainage and fertility, maintaining soil moisture, helps control weeds and it can provide a manicured look for your landscaping.

Street trees that are planted by the Parks and Forestry Division are initially mulched. After this time, it is important for property owners to continue the process of properly mulching street trees as the mulch breaks down. Even more important is how that mulch is applied around the tree. Improperly applied mulch can create many detrimental health issues for all trees. Please do not apply mulch around the trunk of trees or apply too much mulch.

Watering Trees

Property owners that receive street trees from the Parks and Forestry Division or that have planted street trees with a permit must water the trees to ensure optimum health and survival. We ask that residents water the street trees deeply once or twice a week for the first three or four years or as needed, especially during periods of drought. On the other hand, too much watering can is detrimental to tree health. Please do not water trees too frequently as it can kill trees.

Approximately 10 gallons of water once or twice a week with a garden hose is a general rule of thumb for watering during moderate summer weather. You can also water until some seepage occurs on top of the ground and the soil is softened around the tree. When summer drought occurs, please monitor the trees more carefully. Similar to watering your grass, a weekly deep soaking is better than frequent shallow watering.

Additional Information 

Trees are Good
This is a great website for useful information on proper pruning for young and mature trees, why topping hurts trees, etc. 

International Society of Arboriculture
Good resource on how to find professional certified arborists and the tree care companies they work for in providing services in or around the Oconomowoc area.

If a tree is situated between two property lines, whose responsibility is it? Can you be held responsible if an "act of God" causes a tree to fall on a neighbor's property? Read more on this topic by clicking the link above.