Urban Forestry

The purpose of Golden Valley's Urban Forestry Program is to ensure that public trees are properly managed and to provide residents with the correct information to care for their own trees. The many wooded residential areas in Golden Valley act as important visual, aesthetic, and economic resources and add significantly to the quality of life and the value of property within the City.

Golden Valley has received the nationally recognized designation of Tree City USA for the past several years. Tree City USA was developed by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in conjunction with the United States Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, to recognize towns and cities across America that meet four standards: a community tree ordinance, a legal tree governing body, a comprehensive urban forestry program supported by a minimum of $2 per capita, and an annual observance of Arbor Day.

+The Value of Urban Trees

Many people view trees as symbolic, representing human traits we are taught to admire (such as wisdom and steadfastness, even in the face of adversity) The sheltering nature of trees suggests parental care, and many people equate their heritage with the deep roots of a tree. But urban trees also serve a number of more practical purposes.

Research shows that trees help reduce stress in the workplace and encourage recovery for hospital patients. The presence of community trees is linked to higher property values (as much as 27 percent), increased tax revenues, increased income levels, faster real estate sales (turnover rates), increased number of jobs and worker productivity, and increased numbers of customers or shoppers.

Because of many variables, determining the economic value of a community tree can be challenging. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, research has shown that trees can provide up to $7 in benefits each year for every $1 invested in caring for them. Benefits include increased property values, pollution control, and energy savings. While individual trees have value, the variability of species, size, condition, and function makes it even more difficult to determine their economic value. Aesthetics aside, trees provide many economic benefits, both direct and indirect.

Some Direct Benefits

Direct economic benefits are usually associated with energy costs. For example, tree shade can reduce air conditioning costs in residential and commercial buildings by 30 percent. Windbreaks can shield homes against wind and snow, reducing heating costs by 20 to 50 percent. In city areas without tree cover, streets and parking lots can raise air temperatures as much as 35 degrees. Such "heat islands" can cause cities to be 5 to 9 degrees warmer than surrounding areas. However, a mature tree can reduce high summer temperatures by 2 to 9 degrees F. Because of this, formulas are used to estimate monetary values of large trees for landscape and replacement costs. Some legacy trees in the southeastern United States have been valued up to $100,000.

Some Indirect Benefits

The indirect economic benefits of trees are even greater. On average, an acre of trees can store 2.6 tons of carbon annually and generate enough oxygen daily for 18 people. As more and more statistics are generated to show how community trees store carbon and clean the atmosphere, models show that in 50 years, one tree can generate $30,000 in oxygen, recycle $35,000 of water, and remove $60,000 of air pollution.

Community tree canopies also intercept, slow, evaporate, and store water through normal tree functions. Studies show that for every 5 percent of tree cover area added to a community, storm water run-off is reduced by approximately 2 percent. As tree canopy increases, so does air quality. Meanwhile, there is a decrease in energy costs and storm water runoff.

The facts and statistics are numerous when it comes to the benefit of community trees. The benefits go well beyond economics to include sound or noise reduction, visual screening, wind control, water quality, glare reduction, wildlife habitats and, of course, aesthetic quality. The important thing to remember is beauty isn't everything.

Six Things Trees Do For You Every Day

Improve Air Quality

  • Tree leaves absorb carbon dioxide and poisonous atmospheric gases and produce oxygen for breathing.
  • American Forests reports that in one year, a mature tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon dioxide produced. Two mature trees produce enough oxygen for a person to breathe during a year.

Improve Water Quality

  • Trees reduce the impact of rain, which results in less soil erosion and runoff into our storm sewers.
  • Golden Valley's wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into creeks and wetland areas.

Save Energy and Money

  • Properly placed trees can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and heating cost by 20 to 50 percent. (USDA)
  • Trees placed properly for windbreak protection can cut the energy used for heating up to 30 percent.

Increase Economic Stability

  • USDA studies indicate that healthy mature trees can increase property value by an average of10 to 20 percent. The National Arbor Day Foundation reports that people spend more time shopping along tree-lined streets.
  • Apartments and offices in wooded areas tend to rent quicker and have longer leases than treeless locations.

Reduce Noise Pollution

  • A USDA report states that trees help to absorb loud sounds from vehicles and other sources.
  • Each 100-foot width of trees can absorb about six to eight decibels of sound intensity. This is beneficial to residents along busy highways, which can generate noise levels as high as 72 decibels

Create Wildlife Diversity

  • Trees provide a suitable habitat for animals and birds that wouldn't survive in Golden Valley without them.

+Pollinators

In the last 15 years, an estimated 40 acres of native vegetation pollinator habitats have been created in Golden Valley. About 24 acres were created by the City through the establishment of natural buffers and filter strips near water bodies. The remaining 16 acres were established by property owners like General Mills and local residents.

In 2019, the Golden Valley City Council adopted a resolution endorsing pollinator protection and promoting pollinator habbitats in Golden Valley.

Why It’s Important

More than one third of all plant-based products consumed by humans depend on various pollinators. Insects like bees and butterflies, birds, and small mammals are critical to perpetuating and proliferating our food sources.

Pollinator gardens serve as habitats and food sources for pollinators. They also reduce chemical runoff into local waterways and produce food free of potentially harmful pesticides. Above all, they promote pollinators, whose global populations have dropped off over the last few decades.

Tips For Integrating Pollinator Habitat Into Your Own Property

Choose Diverse Plants: The US Fish and Wildlife Service recommends choosing plants that flower at different times of the year, planting in clumps, and providing a variety of flower colors and shapes to attract different pollinators. Whenever possible, choose native plants.

Reduce Or Avoid Pesticides: Refraining from pesticide use is one of the key ingredients to a pollinator garden, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which states that “some pesticide residues can kill pollinators for several days after the pesticide is applied."

Mind The Larva: The last component of a good pollinator garden is the presence of nesting plants, in which pollinators can live or lay their eggs. Pollinator larva thrive on plant leaves, so allow parts of the garden to revert to wild grasses, weeds, and wildflowers. Monarch butterfly caterpillars, for example, thrive in milkweed. Leave ornamental plants and grasses uncut in the fall to provide overwinter pollinator habitat.

For more information about how to better your yard and garden for pollinators, visit the MN Department of Agriculture website. Also, the Golden Valley Garden Club is a dynamic network of gardeners at all levels of experience. The club is always looking for new members and volunteers.

+Tree Management Tips for Homeowners

Planting the right tree, the correct way, and then caring for it properly will help it grow twice as fast and live twice as long.

  • Tree Selection
  • Planting
  • Pruning
  • Common Tree Problems
  • Hiring a Tree Care Contractor

One of the top five reasons for urban tree mortality is planting the wrong tree in the wrong place. When planting a new tree in your yard, always consider the type of soil, and the amount of sunlight and moisture the tree will be getting. Planting the right tree will greatly increase its growth and survival rate as well as its ability to ward off insect and disease problems. Golden Valley has mostly clay soil. Be sure to identify what type of soil you have before you plant, and use the guidelines below when choosing your tree.

Trees for Clay Soils

Bicolor Oak
Red Maple
River Birch
Hackberry
Arborvitae
Black Hills Spruce
Tamarack
White Spruce
Basswood

Trees for Sandy Soils

Bur Oak
Honeylocust
Redmond Linden
Hackberry
Ginko
Hawthorn
Cedar
Junipers
Pines

Shade Tolerant Trees

American Linden
Maples
Japanese Tree Lilac
Arborvitae
Balsam Fir
Chokecherry
Pagoda Dogwood
Serviceberry

Tree Selection Tips

  • Select a tree with a single leader at the center. This will prevent the tree from splitting when it becomes mature.
  • Know the purpose of your new trees. Some people plant trees for shade, privacy, aesthetics, or to block wind or noise.
  • Know the limitations of the planting site. Are there any overhead wires? What type of soil do you have? Is the climate suitable for the tree (ie, will it survive in winter)? When the tree is full-grown, will it physically obstruct a roadway or sidewalk?
  • Buy only from reputable nurseries. Check to see if they are members of professional organizations, such as the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association or the Mail Order Association of Nurseries or the American Association of Nurserymen. If the nursery is local, check to see if it has a knowledgeable staff to answer questions about proper care, as well as a replacement warranty (usually for one year).

Planting trees to create urban forests is an excellent goal, but if it's not done correctly the effort can be worthless. Planting requires adequate planning, long-term care, and knowledge of trees and their needs.

The American Forestry Association estimates that young trees will grow twice as fast when planted correctly and will live twice as long as trees planted improperly.

Call Before You Dig!

Before digging, contact Gopher One Call at 651-454-0002 to identify any utility lines that might be underground.

How Deep Should You Plant Burlapped or Potted Trees?

Planting too deep is one of the top five causes of urban tree mortality. Under normal conditions, root growth is best encouraged by planting the root ball even with the surrounding terrain. When wet conditions or heavy soil are problems, raising about 1/3 of the root ball above the ground will aid the spread of lateral roots. In arid climates, a basin can be used to collect precious water.

Mulch

Mulching, which involves placing shredded hardwood, bark, wood chips, decorative gravel, or other materials on the soil around the tree, can greatly enhance the tree's health. Mulch is a young tree's best friend because it:

  • increases growth rate of trees
  • eliminates competing weeds or grass
  • retains soil moisture
  • keeps soil cool in summer
  • protects the trunk from lawn mower damage and simplifies maintenance
  • increases the soil's fertility as it decomposes
  • reduces erosion
  • improves landscape appearance
  • prevents soil cracking that can damage new roots
  • helps prevent soil compaction

Mulching Mistakes

  • do not allow mulch to touch the tree's trunk
  • do not pile mulch higher than four or five inches

Proper Pruning Techniques

  • Prune when trees are young so wounds are small and growth goes where you want it.
  • Identify the best central leader and lateral branches before pruning.
  • Never use wound dressing unless you accidentally wound your oaks or elms in April, May, or June.
  • Always remove 100 percent of the deadwood but never more than 25 percent of the live wood on young trees, and less for mature trees.
  • Keep tools sharp. Scissors-type pruning sheers with curved blades are best for young trees. Never use anvil pruners on trees.
  • When pruning large limbs, cut just outside the branch ridge and collar with a slight down-and-outward angle. Don't leave a protruding stub.
  • Never top your tree.

When To Prune

Light pruning and the removal of dead wood can be done anytime, but keep the following in mind:

Spring & Fall

Pruning deciduous trees should not be done during the spring and fall months, because decay fungi spread their spores profusely during this time and wounds tend to heal slower on fall cuts. Wait for the tree to be dormant.

However, spring is a great time to trim evergreens. The new growth can be pruned back as it is growing, which will promote an abundance of denser new growth. It is best to start when the tree or shrub is young if you're looking to control its size.

Summer

Pruning should be done soon after seasonal growth is complete, or after September 30. This enables you to direct the growth of the tree toward the crown during the next growing season Once pruned, branch growth slows. This occurs because pruning decreases the total leaf surface, thereby reducing the amount of food manufactured that is needed for root development and next year's crown growth.

Winter

Late winter is one of the best times to prune your deciduous shade trees. Many decay pathogens and diseases cannot enter a tree's vascular system during the dormant season. Also, the beetles that carry the Dutch elm and oak wilt fungi are not active during this time of year and therefore won't be attracted to your tree's freshly cut branches.

It is usually best to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed before you prune. This is when the City of Golden Valley prunes many of its public boulevard and park trees. Winter pruning can result in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring. However, some species, such as maples, walnuts, and birches, may "bleed" when the sap begins to flow. This is not harmful and will stop when the tree leafs out.

Remember: Never trim oaks in April, May, or June.

Girdling is a result of roots growing in a circular direction. Root girdling can result in a weak support system for the tree. The lack of trunk flare at the base of the tree where it enters the ground is an indication of girdling.

Improper Pruning can cause problems in urban landscapes. Leaving stubs, or flush cutting branches, can lead to cankers and frost cracks that greatly reduce the health and longevity of your tree.

Lawn Mower Blight is a term City foresters use to describe tree damage caused by lawn mowers bouncing off the base of young, smooth-barked trees. This injury can cause a canker that can slowly move throughout the trunk and eventually kill the tree. You can prevent this problem by placing shredded hardwood mulch in an area with about a five-foot or greater diameter around the base of the tree.

Planting Trees Too Deep inhibits them from getting fully established. They tend to grow slowly, become less resistant to insects and disease, and eventually die. Stem girdling roots can also result from planting too deep.

Use of Plastic Weed Barrier: Coarsely-woven landscape fabric keeps weeds down and, unlike plastic, still lets moisture penetrate evenly throughout the root system. Organic mulch without a weed barrier is best for plant health, but if rock is used for a mulch, landscape fabric is best for letting moisture through.

Use of Wound Dressing: Many people still use wound dressing (pruning paint) on their trees, but research shows that tree wound dressing actually inhibits wound wood (callus) from forming correctly. However, if oaks or elms are wounded in April, May, or June, wound dressing may help prevent the insects that can carry disease fungus from transferring the disease to your tree.

Hiring a tree care contractor deserves the same consideration and caution that goes into selecting a doctor or homebuilder. A mistake can be expensive and long lasting, but the right choice can assure health, beauty, and a longer life for your trees.

Tips

  • Start by checking the phone directory under Trees or Tree Service. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.
  • Beware of door-knockers. Most reputable companies have all the work they can handle without going door-to-door.
  • Ask for certificates of insurance, including proof of liability for personal and property damage and worker's compensation. Call the insurance company to make certain the policy is current. Under some circumstances, you can be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker is hurt on your property.
  • Ask for references and talk with former clients. Experience, education, and a good reputation are signs of a good arborist.
  • Have more than one arborist look at your job and give you estimates. Don't expect one contractor to lower a bid to match another's, and be willing to pay for the estimate if necessary. Three or more cost estimates are worth the effort.
  • Ask if the arborist will use climbing spikes. A good arborist will not use climbing spikes if the tree is to remain in the landscape.

+Condemned Tree Removal Q & A

Q. Who is responsible for removing condemned diseased trees?

A. The City is responsible for removing trees from public property within 20 days of disease confirmation. Property owners are responsible for removing condemned trees from private property.

Q. What are the regulations regarding tree removal from private property?

A. State and City regulations require you to cut down marked trees and properly dispose of all portions. Removal must be completed 20 days after disease confirmation.

Q. How do I get my tree removed?

A. The City of Golden Valley does not contract for tree removal from private property. Consequently, you have the option of removing the tree yourself or hiring a qualified tree removal service. When hiring a tree service:

  • Acquire several bids to assure yourself a fair price. Make sure the quoted price includes taking the tree down, removing it from your property, and disposing of it properly. Stump removal is not required if it is debarked. Request proof of insurance (both liability and worker's compensation) from the contractor.
  • Ask for recent references and check them to determine contractor ability and quality of work. Check with the Better Business Bureau as well.

Q. What happens if I do nothing about removing my condemned tree(s)?

A. If no action is taken by the property owner 20 days after notice of removal, the City will issue a "Forced Removal Notice" and have the tree(s) removed. The cost of removal, plus an administrative surcharge, will be assessed against the property owner's tax liability.

Q. Can I store elm wood on my property?

A. A property owner may NOT store elm wood unless all of the bark has been removed. If the stump is not removed, all above-ground portions must be debarked. These restrictions apply to all elm species.

+Tree Diseases & Pests

Dutch Elm and Oak Wilt Diseases

These diseases are caused by fungi carried by an insect from tree to tree. Once the elm is infected, the fungus grows rapidly in the water-conducting vessels of the entire tree. The vessels clog and the tree wilts and dies. The diseased tree then becomes a breeding site for more insects that will transfer the disease to healthy trees.

Dutch elm and oak wilt diseases are continuing problems within Golden Valley's urban forest. Over the past several years, the City has experienced losses to Dutch elm disease. With many elm and oak trees remaining in the city, continuation of a comprehensive sanitation program is essential for keeping annual losses to a minimum.

Learn about Dutch Elm Disease management.

Learn about Oak Wilt management.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees. Its larvae kill ash trees by tunneling into the wood and feeding on the tree’s nutrients. Since its accidental introduction into North America, EAB has killed millions of ash trees in 35 states and the District of Columbia. With almost a billion ash trees in forests and urban areas, Minnesota is a prime target for EAB.

To prevent the spread of Emerald Ash Borer, a state quarantine is in place for Hennepin, Ramsey, and several other additional counties. This means any ash material (trees, logs, branches, chips, mulch, etc) and all hardwood (non-coniferous) firewood is not to be transported outside these quarantined counties. This material may enter the quarantined counties and travel within them; however, once inside the quarantine, it is not allowed to leave.

Resources

Gypsy Moth

Gypsy moths, from the butterfly and moth family, are considered by many experts to be the single most destructive pest of trees and shrubs. They were discovered in Golden Valley, St Louis Park, and Minneapolis in fall 2001. No more were found in the Twin Cities area since the Minnesota Department of Agriculture treated 1,850 acres in May 2002 until fall 2016, when an infestation site was found in Richfield and two other areas in east central and southeast Minnesota. those three sites were treated in June 2017 to eradicate and slow the spread of gypsy moths. At the same time, gypsy moths were found in the Lowry Hill area of Minneapolis. In 2019, areas in Lakeville, Stillwater, and Chisolm were treated to slow the spread of gypsy moths.

For more gypsy moth information, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website.

+Removing Diseased Trees

Who is responsible for removing condemned diseased trees?

The City is responsible for removing trees from public property within 20 days of disease confirmation. Property owners are responsible for removing condemned trees from private property.

What are the regulations regarding tree removal from private property?

State and City regulations require you to cut down marked trees and properly dispose of all portions. Removal must be completed within 20 days of disease confirmation.

How do I get my tree removed?

The City of Golden Valley does not contract for tree removal from private property. Consequently, you have the option of removing the tree yourself or hiring a qualified tree removal service. When hiring a tree service:

  • Acquire several bids to assure yourself a fair price. Make sure the quoted price includes taking the tree down, removing it from your property, and disposing of it properly. Stump removal is not required if it is debarked. Request proof of insurance (both liability and worker's compensation) from the contractor.
  • Ask for recent references and check them to determine contractor ability and quality of work. Check with the Better Business Bureau as well.

What happens if I do nothing about removing my condemned tree(s)?

If no action is taken by the property owner after 20 days following notice of removal, the City will issue a "Forced Removal Notice" and have the tree(s) removed. The cost of removal, plus an administrative surcharge, will be assessed against the property owner's tax liability.

Can I store elm wood on my property?

A property owner may NOT store elm wood unless all of the bark has been removed. If the stump is not removed, all above-ground portions must be debarked. These restrictions apply to all elm species.

+Other Invasive Species

Buckthorn

Buckthorn is a non-native shrub brought from Europe in the mid-1800s for use as a hedge or windbreak plant. It forms dense thickets and will out-compete native shrubs, tree seedlings, and perennials such as wildflowers for sunlight, water, and soil nutrients. Buckthorn became a restricted noxious weed in 2001 and can’t be purchased in Minnesota.

Common buckthorn and glossy buckthorn are the two species of interest. They can be easily identified because they leaf out earlier in the spring than most native plants and retain green leaves well into November. Berries have a laxative effect on birds and seeds are distributed widely each year. Seed can remain alive in the soil for more than six years.

Weed Wrench Program

The City of Golden Valley has weed wrenches available for use by residents. They can be checked out for up to seven days and picked up in the Physical Development Department in the lower level of City Hall during office hours (Mon - Fri, 8 am - 4:30 pm). When borrowing a wrench, residents must leave their name, address, phone number, and a $100 security deposit, which will be returned when the wrench is checked in.

If you want to remove buckthorn on City property, check out this map showing where you can volunteer. Then fill out a volunteer form and email it to the assistant City forester.

Resources

Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is an aggressive biennial herbaceous (or herb) plant, which means it does not flower until its second year and then it dies. It grows in a way that crowds out native wildflowers, tree seedlings, and woodland plants and can totally dominate a woodland within five to seven years. This invasive plant species can be found throughout Golden Valley.

Fun Fact: You can also use garlic mustard to make a tasty dish.

Resources

 

+Trees & Legal Concerns

If you feel a neighbor's tree conflicts with the use of your property, the first step should always be to talk to your neighbor. If you can't reach a reasonable agreement, consider using a mediation service.

To learn more about trees and the law, read:

Managing the Urban Forest

Trees are major capital assets in America's cities and towns. Just as streets, sewers, public buildings, and recreational facilities are part of a community's infrastructure, so are publicly-owned trees. The entire urban forest is an important asset that requires the same care and maintenance as other public property.

Five elements are necessary to gain the maximum benefits from the planned care of city trees:

  • Planting is needed to replace trees and fill treeless spaces. A forestry program ensures that only quality trees are used and are expertly matched to the site and growing conditions to prevent future problems.
  • Watering is a must to encourage establishment, prevent stress during droughts, and help trees resist insect and disease attacks.
  • Pruning results in high dividends of safety, resistance to storm damage, improved visibility of signs, and in shaping and growing beautiful, useful trees. Proper pruning requires knowledge and skill.
  • Pest control is necessary to monitor ever-present diseases and insects and provide regular, preventive care and prompt action if an epidemic should break out.
  • Tree removal, when necessary, must be done in a responsible, safe manner. However, the bottom line of urban forestry is to extend the lives of trees.

The City Forester

Community foresters plan and supervise the special, intensive care needed to guarantee the future of trees growing under tough conditions of the urban environment—pollution, poor soils, scorching heat, restricted roots, road salt, construction damage, vandalism, and a host of insects and diseases. They are trained to view trees collectively and to manage them as an ecosystem, considering specific biological, social, and economic conditions. This broad view enables the community forester to help taxpayers make wise decisions and get the most from their investment in trees.

City foresters play a vital role in the health and future of these trees. Specifically, a City forester can:

  • provide you with valuable, localized information about tree care and how to comply with tree ordinances
  • make sure your tax dollars are spent wisely on trees of good quality
  • work with City engineers to protect and replant trees during road construction or street improvement projects
  • manage tree diseases within the community