Street Tree Program
Prairie Township maintains hundreds of trees within the public right-of-way. These trees enhance our quality of life by shading pavement, slowing traffic, increasing property values, reducing storm water runoff, and generally improving the local environment in numerous ways.
The Township encourages residents to plant trees within the public right-of-way, in accordance with the guidelines outlined below. Residents, individually or through a homeowners/neighborhood organization, and other property owners can purchase street trees and have them planted through the Cost Share Street Tree Program. Street trees should be chosen, planted, and maintained in such a way that they can thrive in spite of exhaust fumes, a narrow planting space, road salt, pedestrians, utilities, and other challenges.
Residents must obtain a permit from the Township before planting, pruning, or removing any tree in a public street right-of-way. A permit is also required to excavate within 10' of a street tree. The right-of-way includes the tree lawn between the curb and sidewalk (where they exist) and, on most streets, extends beyond the sidewalk. Public right-of-way available for tree planting is also present on streets without sidewalks or curbs. Neighborhoods are encouraged to work together with Township guidance on group planting projects.
Trees should generally be planted at least 10 feet from fire hydrants and street lights, seven feet from driveways and street signs, six feet from underground utility line valves, and 35 feet from the corner curb of street intersections. In addition, the following spacing guidelines apply:
- Small species: at least 24 inches from the edge of curb or walk and 10 feet from the nearest tree
- Medium species: at least 30 inches from the edge of the curb or walk and 20 feet from the nearest tree
- Large species: at least 30 inches from the edge of curb or walk and 30 feet from the nearest tree.
Locating new street trees along streets without curbs and sidewalks presents special considerations. First, it should be determined whether or not the addition of curbs and sidewalks might be planned in the foreseeable future. If this is the case, street trees will be located so as to anticipate the location of the anticipated curbs and sidewalks. Also, whether or not curbs and sidewalks are planned, street tree location must take into account both the location of the right-of-way and any existing street-side parking. In these circumstances, the spacing between trees and pavement and compacted parking areas should follow guidelines similar to those provided above.
Residents are encouraged to provide routine care for street trees. New trees should be watered regularly! A deep soaking once per week (one inch of water) for at least the first two summers and falls is recommended. Keeping a two-three foot wide circle of mulch, no more than three inches deep, over the root zone is also important. Most other tree maintenance, including pruning on a six-year cycle, is provided by the Township. The Township will also remove dying or unsafe trees as needed and plant replacements, or repair sidewalks damaged by street tree roots.