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Tree Care

Tree Trimming
Tree Planting & Removal
Dutch Elm Disease 
Tree Watering & Mulching 

Tree Trimming

BLOCK TRIMMING PROGRAM The Department follows a Master Tree Trimming Program.  Based on current budget and labor allocations, all of the parkway trees in the city should receive trimming every seven (7) years.

REQUEST TRIMMING PROGRAM The Department will trim trees in the parkway adjacent to residents' homes at their request, provided there is a genuine need for trimming.  The Department is attempting to reduce "request" trimmings due to the considerably higher expense.

TREE MAINTENANCE-BORDERLINE (CITY/PRIVATE) TREES Trees planted on private property, but apparently planted either by the City or a private developer for the purpose of being "street trees," are considered "joint responsibility trees."  With the approval of the resident, the City assumes maintenance and removal authority and expense.  There are only a few streets in the city that are considered joint responsibility, however when a tree grows to the point where it is partially on city property, the same maintenance policy holds.

EMERGENCY TRIMMING In the event of an emergency situation, Department personnel will perform emergency trimming  The tree is first inspected by supervisory personnel High priority is placed on the most dangerous trees.  During storm emergencies (ice, wind, rain, etc,), fallen branches and downed trees are "made safe" during the emergency.  At some time following the end of the emergency, clean-up work is started.  Brush pickup, trimming, and removal is conducted on a rotational basis following the end of the emergency.

Tree Planting & Removal

Spring & Fall - Planting The City Commission, as part of the Birmingham Beautification Program, has authorized the Department of Public Services to replace trees that are lost through accident, disease, or other causes. Every effort is made to replace each tree, however, current standards of spacing with regard to existing trees, driveways, fire hydrants, proximity to street intersections, underground utilities, etc. sometimes prohibit replacement. City trees are planted in the parkway or right-of-way area of the property along the street.

The normal size of the tree that the city will be planting is 3 1/2"- 4" caliper. As a result of public interest, we give residents the opportunity to plant their own tree, providing they stay within certain species and size requirements. If you are interested in this, you will need to have your selected species approved by the Forestry Department, who will issue you a permit to plant a tree once the specie and size of your tree is approved. A list of approved selections is available from the public services' office. Please keep in mind you will be responsible for all costs including purchasing the tree, having it planted and any other additional costs associated with the tree. Download a Tree Owner's Manual for detailed information about how much water your new tree needs, as well as other information about trimming, mulch, trouble shooting, selecting tree types, fertilizing and much more. For specific details about mulching, such how much you need and proximity to the trunk, read SOCWA's Trees for Tomorrow guide.

In providing proper growing conditions, we would like to recommend the following procedures:

Watering:  Proper watering is the most important phase of post-planting care. Water should be applied slowly over a period of several hours so that the tree roots are completely soaked.

Water should be applied weekly during dry weather and once every two (2) weeks during a period of normal rainfall.

Trees should enter the winter dormant period in a moist, but not saturated, condition.

Tree Wrapping: The Department of Public Services does not normally wrap the trunks of newly planted trees.  Recent studies by arborologists show little or no benefit from tree wrap. In some cases, it has shown to do more harm than good.

Tree Prunning: The tree was pruned at planting time and any future pruning found to be necessary will be provided by the Department of Public Services. Please call us if the tree dies or appears to be in poor health so that corrective action can be taken to assist tree growth or schedule a replacement planting.

Staking: The Department of Public Services does not normally stake the newly-planted trees, however, if your tree is growing crooked or leaning badly, notify the Department and we will take corrective steps.

Fertilizing: We recommend against fertilizing until the tree has begun to grow (usually two or three years after planting). The tree receives a weak concentration of fertilizer material at planting time. Further fertilization should not be done until new growth at the end of the twigs reach 6" to 8". Fertilizing may be safely accomplished after that.

Weed Controls: Herbicides presently being used are very effective for the purpose intended, however they also take their toll on newly planted trees. Follow the directions on the labels of all toxic chemicals and use extreme caution when spraying near shrubs and trees.

"Lawn Mower Blight": One of the biggest killers of newly planted trees is mechanical damage from lawn mowers and string trimmers. When the bark is damaged around the trunk of the tree, the vascular system of the tree no longer conducts water and nutrients, and the tree dies. Please use care when cutting grass around your new tree.  The area around this tree may be mulched with wood chips to help reduce this potential problem.

The Department of Public Services appreciates any care you provide for the tree. This care will certainly help in promoting a vigorous, healthy tree, which will add value and beauty to your home and property. 

Summer - Tree Removal The City Commission, as part of the Birmingham Beautification Program, has authorized the Department of Public Services to replace trees that are lost through accident, disease, or other causes. Every effort is made to replace each tree, however, current standards of spacing with regard to; existing trees, driveways, fire hydrants, proximity to street intersections, underground utilities, etc. sometimes prohibit replacement.

Tree Removal Process When it is determined that a tree in the right-of-way will be removed, the home-owner will receive yellow tags notifying them about the scheduled removal, as well as each of the following four steps:   

1) We began the removal process of the city tree and will return to pick up logs by this Friday.     2) We have completed the city tree removal and will return to grind the stump.     3) We have ground the stump and will pick up the chips, then top soil and seed the area.     4) We have restored the area where the tree was removed. Please water the grass seed at your convenience.

Dutch Elm Disease

When the weather begins to become hotter and drier about mid June the symptoms of DED become apparent. Elms are surveyed inspected and infected trees are tagged for removal. Removal of diseased Elms is a monumental task and occupies the majority of time for our crews during the summer.

After the diseased elms are removed crews can concentrate on the removal of other species of trees that are dead or declining in heath. Removal of other species may continue until the following spring.