Replanting in the Right-of-Way
The City of Cedar Rapids encourages replanting of right-of-way trees by residents, however, plantings must adhere to the following requirements. After the significant tree loss caused by the derecho, it is imperative that trees planted have the greatest potential for success.
New Home Criteria
Stumps left behind in the right-of-way following the removal of a damaged street tree will be ground down by the City and re-seeded. The City requests that residents remove rocks, bricks, and stone planters from around the stump as well as any ornamental plantings that the resident wants to keep. This helps to ensure that workers have good, safe access and allows the stump to be flushed closer to grade level if needed. Paint markings and flags near the stump will indicate that the stump grinding crews will be arriving in the near future – within two weeks. Crews will conduct the work following the same prioritization route that is used during snow emergencies (main arterials first, followed by collector streets, then residential neighborhoods).
Stumps will be ground out approximately 8 inches below grade; the waste material will be removed and the area will be restored with topsoil and seed. This process may be completed all at once or over the course of a few days, depending on weather and staffing.
Root balls, or uprooted stumps that were torn out of the ground, will be removed by the City’s contractor during curbside collection. Due to the high number of stumps left by the derecho this process is likely to take two summers and possibly a little longer.
Right-of-way stumps can be removed, at the resident’s expense, by following the same process as replanting by residents in the right-of-way. Complete an application for a permit. Stumps must be ground to 6-8 inches below grade. Trees planted in the same area will need to be moved 3-5 feet to one side or the other to avoid root systems from the tree that was removed. Property owners will need to grind the stump out completely to a depth of approximately 18-24 inches if they plan on re-planting in the exact same location.
- Trees must be at least 1 inch in trunk diameter when measured 4.5 feet above grade. This typically equates to a 1.5 inch caliper tree. Trees provided through some community tree adoption programs will not meet this requirement. Trees provided through the Planting Forward program are intended for planting in private yards. Tree size is required to make sure the tree will survive the challenging growing conditions of placement within the right-of-way.
- The resident must complete an application for a permit to plant in the right-of-way. The fee for the permit has been waived through 2021. The permit allows the City to include the tree on the tree inventory, and ensures that the resident understands the requirements of street tree planting.
- Cedar Rapids Municipal Code requires that new street right-of-way and parking lot trees be shade trees (over-story or mid-canopy species) unless overhead utilities do not allow planting of these trees.
- The use of trees native to Iowa and the Midwest is recommended wherever possible. Native trees are adapted to local growing conditions and ecosystems and often perform best over the long run. Most trees native to the Midwest (climate zone 4-5) should also perform well in Iowa. Lists of recommended trees provided below also include non-native tree species that are adapted well to this climate and can withstand the stresses of urban environments.
- Exotic trees that exhibit invasive properties and are known to compete with native species should not be planted.
- Tree lists are not all-inclusive. Requests to plant trees not included on the lists below must be approved by the City Arborist.
- The best approach for selecting a tree to plant is to evaluate sunlight, soil volume and quality, water sources, and other physical conditions of the site. Planting success may vary with specific circumstances.
- The resident agrees to contact IOWA ONE-CALL at 1-800-292-8989 to locate underground utilities before doing any digging or removal of stumps.
- The right-of-way is returned to its original condition following planting.
- Excavations of any kind cannot remain open for longer than seven calendar days.
- The resident agrees to hold the City of Cedar Rapids, and its officers and employees, harmless against any and all claims or damages that might arise by reasons of granting the application and issuance of the permit.
- The resident agrees to provide maintenance and tree care so the tree is successful.
- It is recommended that the resident review tree planting videos and materials provided by community tree adoption programs and on this website prior to planting.
Right-of-Way Placement Criteria
When site checking for planting its important to look at not just how the tree fits now, but how it will fit 40 years into the future.
Some of the parameters required are:
- 40 feet between trees 35 feet from intersections
- 10 feet from driveways and alleys 4 feet minimum areas between street and sidewalk
- 10 feet from fire hydrants and residential water lines
Adjustments for good reasons are allowed only after consultation with and by authority from the Forestry Program.
New Home Construction/Final Occupancy Permit Criteria
A tree needs to be planted before a final occupancy permit is issued. The ordinance calls for a single stem, shade tree to be planted on city right-of-way. The required size for a large shade tree is 1 inch diameter at breast height or 4.5 feet above grade. If overhead utilities are present, a single stem, ornamental tree may be planted. The required size for an ornamental tree, mature heights of less than 30 feet, is 1" diameter at breast.
Either the builder or the new homeowner must install the new tree prior to the receipt of a final Certificate of Occupancy. The tree must be healthy and vigorous at the time of inspection and be an approved street tree.
Effective January 2015, the City began accepting payment for the required trees. Due any time before the final occupancy is provided, this program allows builders or homeowners to pay the City to plant the required street tree. The new trees will be installed in the spring of the following year. Contact Code Enforcement at 286-5831 or firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Forestry inspection or with any questions regarding paying the City to plant the tree.