Questions & Answers

Q. What is the Street Tree Maintenance Program?

Almost everyone would agree that the 50,000 street  trees & 25,000 park trees (As of 1/23/2017) lining our streets, boulevards and in our parks comprise one of Fort Wayne's most cherished public assets.  What many people don't know, however, is that the professional care and maintenance of these trees is the responsibility of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department.  A trained arborist and specialized tree crew have been a part of our operation for decades.

 Q.  Which trees in my neighborhood are maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department?

Generally speaking, those trees which are in the "street right of way" or between the street and the sidewalk are maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.  This may include trees which you have purchased and planted yourself.

The main task involves the pruning of street tres, those trees that are planted between the street and the sidewalk, with the goal of making the trees as safe and healthy as possible.

Q. Why are trees trimmed differently?

During the pruning operation, trees are also checked for structural problems.  Many times, these structural problems are only evident from a close inspection by the trimmer once he is up in the tree.  Once discovered it is eliminated or corrected.  If too extensive, the tree is marked for removal.


Trimming provides clearance for buses, garbage trucks, moving vans and other large vehicles that can damage the branches of trees.  Trimming opens up sidewalks for pedestrians, clears branches from rooftops, antennas, evergreens and traffic signs, and allows motorists a clear view of intersections.

We want to be sure that they live as long as possible in the best condition possible.  Not only that, we have to be sure that they are safe.

Trees, shrubs and other vegetation on private property, alleys or on utility rights-of-ways are not the responsibility of the Forestry Division.  This vegetation is primarily the responsibility of the property owner/s.  AEP has responsibility for trimming trees that fall within their rights-of-ways.

Q. What if I am unhappy with the pruning?

All pruning is done by nationally accepted specifications.  Since the Parks & Recreation Dept. has started pruning on a cyclic basis annual tree mortality has decreased from 1000 to 500.  Also, liability and property damage caused by storms has been greatly reduced.


Q. My street tree needs to be pruned?  Will you prune it?

All of the trees in the city are on a 8 year pruning cycle.  The City’s street tree inventory, is pruned systematically by defined areas.  In order for us (parks) to do this in an efficient and economical manner, we must defer individual pruning requests until your section falls into the pruning cycle.  When your section is scheduled, the tree in front of the home will automatically be pruned.  
Q.  Can I prune a tree myself in the street right of way? 

Yes, with the written consent of the City Arborist who can be reached at 260.427.6480.

Q.  I think the trees in  my neighborhood look great now.  Why do you have to prune these trees?

Our tree crews remove dead wood, crossed, split, hollow, and storm damaged limbs, shattered wood and sprout growth from the trees. This opens the crown of the tree and reduces the number of competing limbs.

Some types of trees cast a dense shadow.  Trimming them allows sunlight to penetrate to lawns and shrubbery.

In some cases, removing lower branches increases night time security because street lights can cover a larger area.

During large wind storms, well trimmed trees are less likely to cause damage and, afterward, they sustain less damage.  Proper pruning gives strength to the branches and allows wind to pass harmlessly through the thinned crown.


Following pruning, the tree starts growing new, stronger limbs. This new growth begins to fill in the empty spaces almost immediately.

Q.  Sometimes it looks like healthy trees are removed.  Why?

Low limbs do not rise higher as a tree gets older; instead they bend lower toward the ground as the tree matures.  Branches may grow 16 to 28 inches a year depending on the weather and the type of tree.  Our tree trimming may seem severe because:

1) Nationally accepted standards call for street trees to be "raised" 10 to 14 feet     above the street for clearance purposes. (This is higher than trees in parks, golf courses and private property.)               
2) The pruning cycle prevents crews from returning to each neighborhood to conduct routine pruning for several years.

Low limbs that will become a problem because of their location should be removed when trees are young. Remember that the appearance of a newly pruned tree is temporary and becomes less dramatic with each passing season and each subsequent trimming.

Trees lining our streets and shading our sidewalks must be pruned much differently than trees standing in our parks or a homeowner's lawn. Our pruning methods reflect the street tree's specialized purpose and growing environment, which is to provide cooling shade over hard surfaced streets and sidewalks.  

Q.What is the new Tree Protection Policy and how does that impact me?  

The Fort Wayne Parks Department, with the approval of the Board of Park Commissioners, has adopted and shall enforce a Tree Protection Policy for any and all trees under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.
It is our responsibility to protect the health of all street trees and park trees with due diligence.

These trees are an important contributor to the quality of life for Fort Wayne citizens. In addition to providing beauty, the trees filter pollution, improving air quality; they capture and slow down storm water, improving water quality within their watersheds; and they provide shade, reducing utility costs.

Any developer, private citizen, or governmental division shall comply with this policy and include notes and details on all plans for projects impacting street or park trees. 
All plans shall be submitted to the City Forester and Parks Department Landscape Architect for review before any construction activities. View an on-line copy of the
Tree Protection Policy

Q.What is Fort Wayne doing to protect our urban canopy in individual neighborhoods?

The City of Fort Wayne lost nearly 25% of its trees and canopy coverage due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) from 2006-2011. Home to more than 250,000 residents, the city’s urban canopy is
critical to reducing effects from frequent flooding of the city's three rivers. Our rivers also affect the health of Lake Erie.

Last year, the Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department successfully applied for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant that will help increase street tree planting. In turn, these trees will mitigate and clean stormwater in the Northside neighborhood along the Maumee and St. Joseph River watersheds. Planting will begin this fall and will include 500 2” caliper trees. Only native species trees are included in this planting.

Northside volunteers will participate in DNR Tree Steward training to help care for these new trees. With proper planting and after care, these trees are estimated to make an initial impact of 22,264 gallons of stormwater intercepted in the first year, increasing in impact each year. In 20 years, more than 445,280 gallons will be intercepted. By increasing tree canopy, Northside's combined sewer system will not be under as much stress during storm events, where more sewage (and e. coli) is dumped into the Maumee River, reducing e. coli levels in Lake Erie.

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 Q. Can I plant a tree myself in the street right of way?   

Yes, with the verbal consent of the City Arborist who can be reached at 260.427.6480, you can plant a tree in the street right of way. The Arborist will advise you of the tree species that are suitable and also which species are not to be planted.

There is also a plant a tree program administered each year. Are you interested in purchasing a street tree?  Ready to complete a Street Tree Application?  Want to find out more?  Check out the Street Tree Application Information (due by July 1, 2019). 
Q. What is the best way to take care of trees after they are planted?

If you are interested in maintaining tree health, please check out the After Planting Care flier for additional information.  

Q. Do you have a program where I can plant a tree to celebrate an occasion or to honor a person or memorialize a family member?
Yes we do. Through this program you can have a tree planted to celebrate an occasion, or to honor a person or achievement. At the same time, our community will be enhanced with a beautiful, living tree for future generations to enjoy. This program includes: Planting a tree, permanent care of the tree, and a dedication marker. The Parks and Recreation Department’s Supervisor of Landscape will assist in choosing the type of tree and planting location and species. The Supervisor of Landscape must approve the final selection and location. The permanent dedication marker is made of polished light granite. The markers are set into the earth so the surface is flush with the ground. The exposed surface is 6" x 12", with the inscription sandblasted into the granite.

For more information about this program, please call Eric Ummel at 427-6402. You can also check out the following link on How to Become a Donor. This link provides a variety of ways you can donate to the parks including trees.

Q. What if I'd like my street tree to be removed?

Following national industry guidelines, it is the Parks & Recreation Dept.’s policy NOT to remove or allow to be removed, any living tree or trees in the park strip.  Trees that interfere with construction projects will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The arborist drives each street in the City from April to September and marks the dead trees for removal.  The arborist determines if that tree meets the criteria for removal.

Q. They came and cut the tree but the stump is still there and needs to be removed. When will this be done?

The Parks Department removes dead and hazardous street trees year round. The Stumps are placed on a comprehensive list and are removed by contract.  The Parks Department has secured a price agreement with a local company. The stumps will be removed within 60 days of the tree being removed. Please check the current 2014 Stump List posted on this website.


Q. What if the street tree roots are lifting up the sidewalk?

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks adjacent to their property.  However, with proper notice (3-5 working days) the Parks & Recreation Dept. will evaluate the tree and roots and provide options to the home owner.


Q. What is the Comprehensive Tree Maintenance Program?

The Parks and Recreation Department's Comprehensive Tree Maintenance Program calls for each street tree in the city to be pruned according to a structured plan. The plan is based on the condition of the trees.  A computerized inventory provides a record of each city tree, its location, value and condition. This inventory helps determine which areas are in the most need of pruning.  In order to stay on schedule and avoid excess expenditure, the city does not respond to routine individual citizen requests for tree pruning and other services unless it is an emergency. Please refer to the Current pruning locations/maps located in the street tree tab of this website.

Q. What if a street tree limb or tree is down?

If you have an emergency situation regarding a street tree (which is usually between the sidewalk & the street), at your address, during business hours (7am-3:30pm) please call the City Arborist at (260) 427-6480 or city police department at (260) 427-1230. If an emergency occurs after hours call 911.

If it is a non-emergency, please call the City Arborist at (260) 427-6480 and we will schedule the pick up of that limb or tree.  If the limb or tree is a privately owned tree the Parks Dept. will not come and get it.  The Parks Dept. will pick up limbs within 1-3 days of the limbs or trees being reported to the department.

Q. I would like some firewood.  Can I pick some up?

Sorry.  At this time, this program is currently not available.

Q. What does "Tree City USA" mean?

The Fort Wayne Park and Recreation Department has held the distinct honor of being a Tree City USA for 26 years. To become a Tree City USA, your department must meet four standards.  You must have a Tree Board or Department, a tree care ordinance, a Community Forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observation program and proclamation.  This certification is from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  

Q. What do I do if a tree is on fire?

If a tree is on fire call 911.


When a tree is on fire, the fire extinguishes itself when the viable wood turns to charcoal. The charcoal insulates the rest of the wood and it may smolder for quite a while. However, it is still important to contact the 911 in case the fire worsens.

Q. What if I have questions about street trees? Is there someone I can e-mail?

If you have questions pertaining to street trees, please e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

If you would like, you can download an on-line copy of the Shading Our City: Urban Forest Management Plan

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