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Responsible for Managing, Protecting, and Replenishing the Community's Forest Resources

The City of Crystal Forester inventories and inspects public trees and manages disease control. City-owned trees (those growing along streets, in parks, and on other municipal properties) are maintained by private contractors and City staff. Forestry participates in new development planning (landscaping and tree preservation) and assists with enforcement of landscape-related City Code, including sections related to long grass, noxious weeds and brush/wood storage. In addition, citizens are encouraged to consult with City staff on their tree-related questions and problems.

Please contact the City of Crystal at 763-531-1000 if:

  • you see boulevard trees with broken or hanging branches that may pose a safety hazard to passers by;
  • you have reason to believe that a tree on your property or the boulevard has Dutch elm disease or oak wilt. The forester will come out to inspect the tree. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to remove any diseased trees from his/her property. The city will remove any diseased boulevard trees.
  • have questions about trees, tree care, problems, or ownership.

Licensed Tree Trimmers List (do not hire an unlicensed trimmer)

Tree Planting/Reforestation
The City of Crystal plants trees on city-owned property (see Whose Tree Is It?) to replace those that have been removed, to honor citizen planting requests, and to enhance the community's forest. Considerations for placement include the visual gap or void in the landscape, the date of the citizen request, future plans for the potential planting site, and utility/safety concerns. Concentrated planting follows street reconstruction projects, which often claim existing trees.

A painted white "T" on the curb marks chosen planting sites. A door hanger informs the occupant/property owner of the proposed planting. If you receive such a notice and have concerns or questions, please call the Forestry Department. The city forester, in conjunction with other city staff, will make final decisions regarding tree-planting sites. After utilities have been located, the new tree will be sited to minimize future conflicts, while maximizing benefits.

Once a tree-planting site has been selected, that site is evaluated in order to choose an appropriate tree species. Determination is based on soil type, exposure, nearby plantings, possible utility and other conflicts, and the mature characteristics of the tree. Once a tree species has been chosen, care is taken to find a healthy example of that species - if that is not possible, then a substitution is made to assure a suitable choice.

After trees are planted, they are watered at least twice by the city or its contractors. If the newly planted tree is near your house, a door hanger will instruct you how to care for it, thus providing a welcome addition to your home/business environment. The greatest need will be water. Care should be taken to assure that trees are planted at the correct depth. Recent research has linked early tree decline and failure to stem girdling roots, which are encouraged by planting too deeply (see University of MN Extension).

New Tree Watering
With the large number of community trees under our care, the Forestry Department needs your help with watering newly-planted trees and all trees during periods of drought. On average, trees need one inch of water a week during the growing season.

Watering guidelines:

  • water newly-planted trees once every seven to ten days during dry periods in spring, summer, and fall;
  • water trees less than five years old every seven to ten days if significant rainfall has not occurred. It is desirable to slowly apply 30-40 gallons;
  • run a garden hose under the tree crown (expanse of branches) at a slow, gentle speed;
  • place mulch around the tree trunk, to help conserve moisture and reduce mechanical damage to the tree.

Tree Pruning & Removal and Whose tree is it?
The city attempts to manage its community forest on an eight-year rotation. This means that city-owned trees are divided into eight zones and, budget allowing, the trees in one zone are pruned each year. Trees are trimmed to reduce hazards, provide clearance, improve structure, and to remove dead/diseased wood. In addition, citizen pruning/removal requests are considered and included in work plans as deemed necessary by the city forester, in conjunction with other city staff.

Diseased city-owned trees are removed within 20 days, as possible. Dead and dying trees, hazardous trees, and other trees that must be removed are scheduled according to relative risk to people and property, as well as budgetary and scheduling constraints.

The city chooses a tree service contractor each year based on bid prices for projected work, demonstrated performance, and ability to respond in a timely fashion.

City Trees
The City of Crystal owns and maintains those trees growing around municipal offices and facilities, on street rights-of-way, in city parks, and in a few other isolated areas. City Code directs the Forestry Department to plant, manage, trim, and remove these trees. The street right-of-way typically extends inward about 15 feet from the curb, although exceptions exist.

In some instances, a citizen is allowed to plant, trim, or remove a city-owned tree after applying for the relevant action through the Forestry Department.

Private Trees
Your trees, those growing on your property, are your responsibility. A tree or shrub can be jointly-owned if it is growing on the property line, with near equal portions of the trunk on both sides of the line. In this case, the responsibility for the plant is shared.

Your neighbors' trees, while growing on their property, may overhang your property. If conflicts arise as a result of this, the first step is to discuss the situation with your neighbor. Together, attempt to solve the problem in a manner acceptable to both parties. From a legal standpoint, pruning neighboring trees must be done at your property line or inward. (i.e. and in a way to keep trees healthy make proper cuts).

You may perform tree care operations (including pruning and removal) yourself, or you may choose a private tree care company licensed by the City of Crystal (see Licensed Tree Trimmer List). Avoid companies that advertise tree topping (a destructive practice), or those that use climbing spurs or gaffs to prune trees. The city has put together some tips in Choosing an Arborist in Crystal.

Brush may not be stored on the property. Private drop-off sites allow individuals to dispose of wood debris for a charge.

City of Crystal code prohibits the storage of bark-intact firewood and specifies proper storage of wood piles.

Trees growing into power lines must be trimmed by a licensed tree service. Xcel Energy maintains primary electrical lines, while lines coming into a house are the responsibility of the property owner.

Other Public Trees
Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation also own land in Crystal on which trees grow. Please report concerns regarding such trees to the Forestry Department and they will be forwarded to the appropriate authority.

Tree Disease Management
Dutch Elm disease and Oak wilt are two lethal and contagious vascular diseases that threaten our community's elms and oaks. Both diseases are spread via root connections between trees and bark boring insects, but are host-specific (i.e. Dutch elm disease only occurs on elms). Once an elm or oak has been diagnosed with these diseases, it must be removed and the wood and debris properly disposed of. In some cases where the disease is in the early stages of development, chemical treatment by injection may halt the disease and save the tree. The same treatment also protects healthy trees for about three years.

City of Crystal code assigns the Forestry Department the responsibility of managing these diseases. When a dead or diseased elm or oak is located on private property, a notice is sent to the property owner, identifying the tree(s) in question and explaining removal options. The notice also specifies the completion deadline, which is 20 days during the growing season.

Links for Further Tree and Tree Care Information

American Forests
Learn about the nation's oldest non-profit conservation organization and its urban forestry empowerment strategies.

International Society of Arboriculture
This organization of tree care professionals provides information on tree health care and related consumer advice.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture
In charge of monitoring and managing tree insects and diseases, including the gypsy moth, this site offers up-to-date information.

Minnesota Horticultural Society
Horticulture in Minnesota receives full coverage here.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Explore the landscape plantings and learn about new plant species and hardiness trials.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Learn about this state agency that works with public and private entities to promote the conservation, protection, and enjoyment of Minnesota's natural resources.

Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee
Providing advice, coordination, and support of matters related to urban and community forestry, this organization is composed of seasoned professionals and activists alike.

National Arbor Day Foundation
Learn about this nationally-recognized, non-profit organization that encourages tree planting and environmental stewardship both locally and worldwide through programs such as Tree City USA.

Society of Municipal Arborists
A professional affiliate of the International Society of Arboriculture, this group promotes and improves municipal arboriculture and community forestry.

Twin Cities Tree Trust
Learn about this non-profit forestry group that provides tree planting, environmental education, and jobs for youth, through partnerships and individually.

University of Minnesota Forestry Extension
View research, technical advice, and general information about a wealth of subjects through this outreach arm of the University.

U.S. Forest Service
This federal agency manages public lands in national forests, performs valuable forestry research, and provides technical and financial help to state and private forestry organizations.

Invasive Plants (Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin) (The Nature Conservancy)

Urban Forests/Tree Care (Back Yard Treecare) (American Forests) Damage) (Various tree care topics)

General (Native Plants Natural Landscapes) (National Arbor Day Tree Online ID Key) (Plant database -University of Connecticut) (Mn/DOT plant selection program)

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