Street Tree Pruning
Street trees are defined as any tree located in the city parkway or right-of-way (the area between the street curb and the house side of the sidewalk, or where the sidewalk would be). These are community trees maintained by the Forestry Division, regardless of origin of planting or whether you contact us or not. The City of Racine maintains approximately 30,000 tree sites located along 260 miles of streets.
The City is divided into six tree management sections to aid in proper and timely tree care. The Forestry Division prunes street trees on a systematic basis, with a goal of pruning one tree management section each year (all trees once every six years). Trees up to eight years of age are pruned on a shorter cycle every two to three years to develop proper structure. The majority of our systematic pruning takes place during winter months (November – April) when the trees are dormant, although pruning does occur year-round.
Trees are pruned according to the age of each tree. Trees less than 8 years old receive "training pruning", which consists of: removing low branches, developing a central leader, establishing good branch structure, eliminating poor branch angles, and subordinating temporary branches for clearance. Trees over 8 years of age receive "routine pruning", which consists of removing low branches; removing damaged, dead, and diseased branches greater than 2" in diameter; removing crossing and rubbing branches; and providing clearance for street lights, signs, buildings, and other infrastructure.
To remain as efficient as possible, the Forestry Division does not accept routine pruning requests. However, if a street tree is damaged, has a hanging limb, or is blocking a traffic sign or signal; contact the Parks Department at 636-9131. The City Forester will review the request and take appropriate action if warranted. If you would like your tree pruned for some reason other than those outlined, we will review the request and will issue a Tree Work Permit on a case-by-case basis. A Tree Work Permit authorizes you to hire a tree service provider. With the exception of pruning for clearance (see below), unauthorized pruning of street trees by property owners is not allowed under City ordinance.
If you are a tree service provider and wish to perform arboricultural work (fertilizing, pesticide application, pruning, or other) on a public street tree, city ordinance requires that you first complete a Tree Work Permit Application.
City Ordinance requires property owners to ensure that trees eminating from their property, including street trees, meet minimum clearance requirements over sidewalks, streets, and alleys. Branches projecting over public streets or alleys shall provide at least 13 feet and 6 inches of clearance. Branches projecting over public sidewalks shall provide at least 8 feet of clearance. The necessity of any required pruning shall be subject to approval by the City Forester. The City Forester may waive this provision for newly planted trees if it is determined that they do not interfere with public traveling, obstruct the light of any street light, or endanger public safety.
Branches that have been removed will be picked up by the Department of Public Works if they are cut into pieces no longer than 4 feet, tied in bundles not more than 2 feet in diameter and placed with your refuse. Maximum individual branch diameter is 3 inches.
If you would like additional information about pruning residential trees, please view the following documents.
Pruning Young Trees
Pruning Mature Trees