Newly planted trees need water the most as they grow new roots and become established in their new environment. To aid residents who have had a new parkway tree planted, the Forestry Division has a helpful watering device called a TreeGator®. A TreeGator® is a 20-gallon plastic reservoir that attaches around the trunk of the tree. The TreeGator® is quickly and easily filled twice a week with a garden hose, and the small holes in the bottom allow water to trickle out slowly. This encourages deep root growth.
Residents may have one TreeGator® for each new tree planted in the parkway, at no cost. For more information, contact the Forestry Division at (630) 434-5475.
Free Wood Chips
Mulch, such as woodchips, can be applied any time of year. The size of the area to be mulched should be as large as practical with the mulch not more than 4 inches deep and not up against the tree trunk.
The Village has free woodchips available at a fenced pickup site located on the north side of Curtiss St. at the intersection of Katrine St. Hours are dawn to dusk Mon-Fri, and Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Residents are welcome to take the amounts they need using their own transport. Delivery is not available.
Parkway trees in Downers Grove are pruned to improve tree structure, enhance tree vigor, increase aesthetic appeal, provide adequate clearance, and maintain safe conditions in the right-of-way. It is especially important to prune young trees to develop a strong form and improve longevity. Dead and weak branches are removed to prevent the spread of decay to the rest of the tree, and to decrease the chances of storm damage. Branches that detract from the natural beauty of a tree are removed to maintain the crown shape and symmetry typical of the species. In order to facilitate movement of pedestrians and cars along Village sidewalks and streets, trees are pruned up to remove low branches and improve visibility.
The Village has implemented a five-year pruning cycle,meaning all parkway trees will be pruned once every five years. The Pruning Areas Map 2021 shows the areas scheduled for 2020 and the Proposed Pruning Areas Map 2021 to 2025 shows the areas tentatively scheduled in the coming years. Exact boundaries may change slightly subject to budget availability and tree pruning needs. For individual trees not located in the sections scheduled for pruning, staff evaluates the trees and schedules work as appropriate in response to resident requests.
Parkway tree planting is one of the most positive and inspiring functions performed by the Village. The long-term planting goal is to form an enclosed street corridor by increasing the tree quantity and the amount of tree canopy foliage that occupies the space along the public streets. With an active planting program since the early 1970s, more than 60% of the current parkway trees have been planted between 1970 and the present. Parkway trees are planted to replace a tree that was removed, to fill in parkways of new subdivisions, or in response to a resident’s request for a new tree planting where there is no tree. A wide variety of high quality species specifically grown for parkways are planted. Resident requests for specific tree species are honored when possible (see Suitable tree species for a list of choices).
To ensure and preserve the health, safety and aesthetic value of the parkway trees, sometimes a tree needs to be removed. The most common causes for tree removal are infectious disease, structural weakness from decay or storm damage, and tree decline or death.
The most common infectious disease is Dutch Elm Disease which devastates native North American elms. Since there is no cure, trees with Dutch Elm Disease must be removed to avoid spreading the disease to other healthy elms.
Structural weakness from decay or storm damage can weaken a tree’s stem or root system. To avoid large sections of the tree from falling or to prevent the entire tree from toppling over, these trees are removed. Trees that are declining in health or dead are also removed to avoid large sections from falling onto the public areas. Overall, annual tree removals typically average 2 to 3 percent of the Village’s total tree inventory.
Tree Protection During Construction
Parkway trees located next to construction projects that may disturb the parkway, such as the construction of a new house, need to be protected from damage. Tree protection shall involve avoiding damage to the above ground trunk, including the branches, and the below ground root system. All parkway trees shall be fenced with a 6 foot high temporary chain link construction fence secured to metal posts spaced no further than 10 feet apart. The Parkway Tree Protection Requirements sheet details the fence dimensions depending on the size of the parkway tree.