- Can trees break sewer pipes?
Many people have the misconception that tree roots can damage sewer lines. Tree roots will only invade sewer lines that have already cracked because of aging/drying joints or the earth settling. Most old sewage lines in Baltimore are made of deteriorative terra-cotta lines. When a sewer line breaks or leaks, a tree will thrive in the newly found water and nutrients.
Unfortunately, the only real solution to a tree invasion on a sewer line is to replace the lines with watertight PVC or cast iron lines. Postponing fixes include the use of inexpensive drain cleaning products containing copper sulfate or periodic routing in the spring and fall when roots are the most active. Removing the tree will not solve the problem.
Many people incur the unnecessary expense of removing trees around their property only to find that the problem still exists. Tree removal permits are issued only if doing so is required to repair a leaking sewer.
- What can we do about the sidewalks that are uplifted by a tree in the vicinity?Contact 311 and request that the Footways Division come out and repair the sidewalk. We will NOT remove a tree because it conflicts with a sidewalk. The city of Baltimore has invested much time and energy into allowing a tree to grow to full maturity. Large trees provide many benefits to the citizens of Baltimore. Some examples of these benefits are absorbing storm water, cleaning the air of pollutants, shading the streets, providing a buffer to cars, increasing real estate values and lowering utility bills. There are many new approaches to incorporating large trees with pedestrian walkways and they still provide a safe experience.
- How can I get a tree planted in front of my house?
- Who maintains the city’s street trees?
Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks’ Forestry Division maintains the city’s street trees with four in-house crews and nine contract crews. There are approximately 200,000 street trees in Baltimore City. Regular maintenance includes pruning, watering, mulching and removal when a tree is dead.
Citizens can assist with this effort by watering and mulching the trees in front of their houses. This will enable the Forestry Division to focus more on trees in the medians and commercial areas of the city.
- How can I assist the current effort to maintain street trees?
Citizens can assist the Forestry Division by keeping street trees watered during dry periods and mulching them as well. Water street trees with at least five gallons of water in order to make sure that the water does not run off. Mulch includes a variety of products: wood chips, grass clippings, or shredded bark.
Never put mulch directly on the tree’s trunk. This can cause damage to the bark and allow insects and disease to enter. Edging around street trees such as brick and wood ties is strongly discouraged. It makes it impossible for us to grind stumps outs if the tree dies. When you add soil around the trunk, you also prohibit feeder roots from obtaining oxygen. If you want to decorate around a tree pit, try using decorative fencing, which is something that can be removed easily.
- What is the Young Tree Pruning Program?This year, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks’ Forestry Division will be instituting a new program to prune young trees that have a dbh (diameter at breast height) of less than 8”. By pruning trees when they are young, we can prevent many of the problems that we have with older trees such as low hanging limbs.
- How do I know if a tree is dead? How should I report it?
A street tree is considered dead when ALL of its leaves have turned brown. One exception might be a recently planted tree. In some cases, a newly planted tree will lose all its leaves from the shock of being transplanted. It takes approximately six weeks for new leaves to grow.
Trees can have dieback on a few branches and still be alive and healthy. If more than one third of the tree has dead branches, it should be inspected by one of our inspectors. A small percentage of dieback is normal for a tree. Pruning is really not necessary unless the dead branches are large enough to cause damage if they drop. In order to report a dead tree, please contact 311.
- Who should I call if my tree needs pruning?Contact 311 to report a tree that needs pruning. Trees, unlike shrubs, only need to be pruned every five to seven years. Topping is very unhealthy for a tree. Pruning of city trees is usually done in order to elevate it high enough so that people can walk on the sidewalk. It is elevated so that trucks will not damage them. We also prune away from lights and stop signs. It’s a benefit to the homeowner when trees grow over their house because it will contribute to lower utility bills.
- What is considered an emergency?A tree or portion of a tree that is blocking a road or has fallen on private property such as a car or a house is considered an emergency. The Forestry Division will respond immediately. Trees that are blocking a sidewalk would not be considered an emergency, but should be called into 311. The Forestry Division will respond in a timely manner. Hanging limbs or dead limbs that have not broken off the tree do not constitute an emergency, but should be called into 311 as a pruning request.