About Tree Pruning
Requests for tree pruning and/or preservation must be made to the MPRB Forestry Department. Preservation work includes, but is not limited to, injection of elm trees. Keep the following in mind with regard to tree pruning and/or preservation permits:
- The Forestry Department has the authority to deny a permit request if it is in the public's best interests.
- In the event that a permit is permissible then the property owner must comply with the conditions outlined in the permit.
- Contracted work must be done by a company that is licensed by the City to do tree work.
- The cost of any work shall be the responsibility of the permit holder.
- If conditions of the permit are not adhered to, the permit holder will be notified of the problem and required to rectify the situation.
- Failure to do so will result in corrective action being taken by Forestry at the expense of the permit holder.
Pruning of Suckers & Water Sprouts on Boulevard Trees
Below you'll find helpful information pertaining to safety, procedure and the need to prune suckers and water sprouts growing on Minneapolis boulevard trees.
What are suckers and water sprouts that grow on boulevard trees?
Suckers and water sprouts are vigorous shoots that grow from latent buds that are present along the trunk or at the base of a tree. They sometimes develop on grafted trees where the root stock is different from the trunk of the tree. They may also occur on the trunk after a tree is pruned. In either case, they can grow rapidly in one season. Removing them greatly improves the appearance and health of the tree. It may also improve neighborhood safety by allowing greater visibility for pedestrians as well as improved visibility for drivers when backing out of a driveway.
It is the location of these shoots that is the difference between them. Suckers grow from the base while water sprouts grow from the trunk. The trees that most frequently have suckers and/or water sprouts are Lindens, Elms, Crabapples, Honeylocusts and Maples.
Suckers growing from base.
Water Sprouts growing on trunk.
What time of year should suckers and water sprouts be pruned?
The best time to do this pruning is as soon as shoots appear while the tissue is still soft. This is typically in the spring. Shoot tissue becomes larger in diameter and woodier as the season progresses.
Is a permit needed before this work is done?
The MPRB Forestry Department is responsible for nearly 200,000 boulevard trees and the work required to care for these trees means that it is not always possible to respond to suckers and/or water sprouts as quickly as is needed. The help that residents and volunteers provide by pruning off suckers and/or water sprouts from boulevard trees is greatly appreciated.
A free permit is needed in order to prune suckers and water sprouts, and may be obtained from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) Forestry Department.
Depending on who will be doing the work, the Forestry Department may want to provide a training demonstration prior to issuing the permit. The pruning may result in significant wood debris that needs to be recycled. Obtaining a permit allows the Forestry Department to arrange for wood waste to be picked up and properly disposed of. A permit also helps prevent the spread of certain diseases by ensuring that pruning is done during the right time of year.
What tools should be used to remove suckers and water sprouts?
It is important to only use hand tools for this work. For safety reasons a chainsaw may not be used. If not used properly, chainsaws also pose a risk to the tree if the bark is accidentally cut. Under no circumstances are chain saws to be used for this work.
The best hand tools to use are hand pruners, loppers and hand saws. Depending on the diameter of the shoot and density of the wood, one of these hand tools is all that is needed to properly and easily cut through suckers and/or water sprouts.
What do I need to know to properly prune off suckers and water sprouts?
When pruning off suckers and/or water sprouts it is important that they be cut off as close as possible to the trunk or base of the tree. Water sprouts along the trunk of the tree are easily accessible and may be snipped off with little effort. Suckers at the base are more difficult to access because they may be originating just below the soil or just below a layer of woodchips. In either case, try not to leave stubs protruding from the tree or the ground. Stubs from water sprouts can be harmful to pedestrians if someone falls against the tree.
Finally, branches should not be pruned off of boulevard trees. If there is uncertainly between a branch and a well developed water sprout, it is best not to do any pruning. Pruning off a branch may diminish the structural integrity of the tree. Do not hesitate to contact the Forestry Department if there are questions about the permitted work being done.
For additional information or to obtain a permit, please contact:
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
3800 Bryant Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
612-313-7710 | firstname.lastname@example.org