How do I know if a tree is City owned or privately owned? 

Usually, if the tree is between the street and the sidewalk, it is City-owned. If there isn't a sidewalk, the City right-of-way needs to be determined. Check with the Forestry office at 319-356-5100 for determination of right-of-way and tree ownership

What if the tree is in back of my house, on or near an alley -- is it mine or the City's?

Call 319-356-5100 for exact determination of your situation.

Who prunes the trees on the City right-of-way?

The City right-of-way is the area between the sidewalk and curb in most cases, with some exceptions. The City Forestry crew will prune the trees at no cost to the adjacent property owner. Call 319-356-5100 to submit a pruning request.

How do I get my City tree pruned?

Call 319-356-5100 and staff will come out to inspect the tree, determine whether pruning is appropriate and schedule the work.

Could the City Forester inspect or prune trees in my private yard?

No, these are considered private trees and maintenance is the home owner's responsibility.

Does the City prune trees around wires?

No, MidAmerican Energy is responsible for contracting out tree pruning around utility wires. You can reach them at 888-427-5632.

What are the City Code requirements for pruning vegetation?

There must be a nine-foot clearance above the public sidewalk and vegetation must be pruned back away from the sidewalk to allow free passage of pedestrian traffic. There must be a 13.5-foot clearance over streets and alleyways. The branches must not obstruct or shade street lights, the vision of traffic signs or the view at any street intersection.

Do I need permission to plant in the City right-of-way?

Possibly. You may plant plants that will be no taller than two feet when mature without a permit. To plant a tree, you must obtain a tree planting permit from the Forestry Division or call 319-356-5100. This permit needs to be approved by the City Forester before planting may begin.

Planting in the right-of-way brochure
Tree planting permit application

Will you plant a tree on the City right-of-way in front of my address?

Contact 319-356-5100 with your request. Planting will depend on the specific situation, whether it is a replacement of a tree the City had to remove and the Forestry budget constraints.

How close to an intersection am I allowed to plant?

No plantings should occur inside the sight triangle. This can be located by marking off 32 feet from the corner in each direction and then spot the line to make a complete triangle. No plantings can obstruct the vision of motorists at intersections.

My neighbor's tree hangs over my fence. What can I do if it needs to be pruned?

Our first suggestion is talk to the neighbor. For the health of the tree it is best to get it pruned properly. If the neighbor refuses to cooperate, your next option is to contact your attorney. This is a private matter between you and your neighbor.

What is a private trim notice?

Should the Forestry Division be called to a property to check a problem regarding a private tree, but affecting public right-of-way, a notice is sent to the owner of the property. In non-emergency cases, the homeowner is given 30 days to comply with City codes.

Who do I call if I need to prune my private tree?

Look in the phone book business directory under tree service. There are various companies available locally. You may want to ask if they are insured, if they have a certified arborist on staff and how long they have been providing tree care.

What is a certified arborist and does the City employ any?

A certified arborist is an individual who has achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation's leading experts on tree care. Certified arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification, so they are more likely to be up-to-date on the latest techniques. The City employs three certified arborists.

A large branch came out of my tree. How should I dispose of it?

If it is from a City tree, call the Forestry Division at 319-356-5100. If it is from your private tree, you will need to cut it into four-foot lengths and bundle it into 18-inch maximum diameter bundles and place it out next to your trash on trash day. The City yard waste crew will pick it up. There is a 50-pound weight limit.

The City has removed a dead tree in front of my house in the right-of-way. What happens now with the stump?

The City will have a separate contractor come back and remove the stump at a later time, and fill in with soil and grass seed as necessary. These contracts are typically executed twice a year, in spring and fall. If the site is appropriate, the City will automatically replace the tree.

Is it okay to attach signs, birdhouses, swings, etc. to City-owned trees?

No, nothing should be attached to City trees for the good health of the tree.

What is the City's policy for using vegetation control chemicals?

Iowa City Parks and Recreation is committed to minimizing vegetation control chemical use throughout the 1,800 acres of managed parks and natural areas. Turf areas and open green spaces are not routinely sprayed to control undesirable vegetation. Mechanical techniques (hand weeding, mowing/trimming, over-seeding and mulching) and landscape design techniques (such as prairie-style and new perennial design) are used to reduce the need for vegetation control chemical use. Only after mechanical means have been considered will vegetation control chemicals be used to manage noxious weeds, vegetation that poses a safety risk and invasive species. Special care will be taken to ensure protection of park users including temporarily closing active use areas when chemicals are used.