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Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Ann Arbor to plant 1,200 new trees along city streets, encourages residents to water them

By Ryan J. Stanton


A look at the city of Ann Arbor's fiscal year 2011-12 tree planting areas for evaluation.

A total of 1,200 trees will be planted along city streets following the Ann Arbor City Council's approval Monday night of a $301,475 contract with the Marine City Nursery Co.

The trees are expected to be planted along street right-of-ways in the Malletts Creek, Allen Creek, Traver Creek and Swift Run drainage districts — partly an effort to reduce stormwater runoff and improve the quality of runoff that reaches local streams and the Huron River.

City officials said a tree-planting plan was developed focusing on areas with at least one of the following characteristics: low canopy cover, large areas of impervious surfaces, significant impact by the emerald ash borer, or an aging tree canopy.

Two bids were received for the project, but city officials determined only one to be a responsible bidder — the Marine City Nursery Co. of China Township, Mich.

The overall project budget is $319,475 and funds are coming from the stormwater capital budget, according to Kerry Gray, the city's urban forest and natural resource planner.

Ann Arbor's public trees intercept 65 million gallons of stormwater each year, according to the city's i-Tree Streets Analysis report from 2009.

The city is in the middle of developing a comprehensive urban forest management plan that's expected to be adopted by the City Council sometime next year.

The city took inventory of all city-owned trees in 2009 as the first step in developing the plan. The city contracted with the Davey Resource Group, which found the city owned 40,749 trees along streets and 6,610 in parks. Additionally, there were 8,853 potential planting sites identified, and 843 locations where there were stumps.

According to the inventory, about 37 percent of the city's trees are maple, 8 percent are honeylocust, 7 percent are oak, 6 percent are crabapple, 5 percent are linden, 4 percent are spruce, 4 percent are pine, 4 percent are sycamore, 3 percent are elm and 2 percent are pear. The inventory lists another 20 percent as being "other."

City officials acknowledged at Monday night's council meeting they're still catching up after many trees throughout the city were lost in recent years due to the emerald ash borer.


Mike Anglin

"We all knew it was going to take a long time to replace — I think it was up to 10,000 trees on city property — but that effort has been coming along well over the years," said Mayor John Hieftje. "Unfortunately, it's going to take them a while to grow."

Since 2005, the city has planted nearly 5,000 trees along streets and in parks to replace both ash trees lost to the emerald ash borer and other street trees that died or were removed for a variety of reasons, according to information on the city's website.

Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, said he's hearing out in the community that some residents aren't properly watering trees after they're planted by the city.

"I think that's very short-sighted," he said, suggesting a little bit of water to keep the trees alive is the least residents can do after the city plants them.

"So if there are people out there with that concern, that you're not going to water it, it's good you call the city because it's silly for us to put that investment in and have it sabotaged," Anglin said, getting an agreeing nod from the mayor.

"I think particularly for the first couple of years, trees need all the attention people can give them, and water particularly during these dry periods is very important," Hieftje said. "And if they're not going to do that, it'd be nice of them to let us know in advance."

A tree-planting guide available on the city web site recommends that once a tree has been planted, it should be watered once a week in dry conditions during the first two summers and into the fall, and then once a month the following two summers.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

Couple of things. I know the city has an earmarked fund for trees, money left to the city by a woman in her will ( do not remember her name at the moment). This money has to be spent on things like trees. It cannot be used for any other purpose. Second: so who is supposed to water the new trees with bags attached on Huron Parkway were there appears to be no homeowner close to them? I believe behind those trees on the east side is a creek--no houses. Some of them have already died, and I have never noticed those bags bulging with water. Is it really easier to pay employees to plant trees that it is to pay them to water them? I hope someone on the City payroll can respond to some of these questions. If they do not, then I would hope that one of the intrepid reporters of would actually do some investigative work and give us the answers.

average joe

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 12:01 a.m.

And those "empty" bags aren't cheap either.

Zach Yancer

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

The comment about city budgets is sort of misleading. While it's true that trees are not directly replacing a police officer, "trees" is appropriated under some other kind of budget line, probably parks and recreation or improvements, something like that. When the city is creating a budget they can reduce that budget line and add to Police. It's not as if some omniscient being has commanded the base line spending for parks, public safety etc, and then no city council can ever overturn this...

michal poe

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

It is far-sighted to see how using this money will give returns on the storm water damage done every year. Ann Arbor is known for it's beautiful trees, that's one of the reasons we moved here. As far as the watering. Did the city let the people know, individually that they should water? Two were planted about a block down the street from me, and one survived and one didn't. I think everybody thought everybody else was taking care of them. I live on Stadium Blvd near Packard and it is a busy intersection. The elms were lost along here and I heard they really helped with the street noise.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

I'm just curious - can't people replace their own curb trees rather than waiting for the city to do it? We live in Pittsfield Twp., and have put in our own trees over the years. As far as I know, the Twp. doesn't do anything about them. And it's my yard, and I'd like a say in what kind of trees are planted there. I know there are certain restrictions - not all kinds of trees are allowed to be planted by the street, and they have to be a certain minumum diameter (2 1/2"? 3"?). I'm guessing that's why the average cost of the AA trees is higher than what you could get at Lowe's and take hime in your car, for example - those trees are too small to be approved for the curb strip.

Long Time No See

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

A2 resident-sponsored tree planting program: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

average joe

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 10:35 a.m.

The water we are supposed to put on these trees that the city is forcing on us, is that free water??


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

I am convinced that space aliens have come down and replaced the council and mayor....What a slap in the face to plant 1200 trees and police were just laid off.. Disgusting..hope those trees can help find the rapist on the loose.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

Doesn't the city get guarantees with their trees? Most nurseries give you a one year guarantee on your tree. So, assuming the city doesn't plant the trees in the summer, the trees ought to do fine. I also have noticed new trees planted in public spaces (e.g., schools, parks) that have watering bags attached to them. I'm assuming an employee is adding water to those bags. What determines which trees get watering bags and which trees are left to Joe Public?


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

I wish more people understood how a city budget works. We're not trading police for trees. It doesn't work that way. A city isn't run like your family checkbook.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

Maybe it should work that way. I think this shows a lack of respect to the PD/FD when the city lays off public safety personnel and spends over $300k on planting trees. This is blatantly non essential.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Wow! I did not read of any plans for the LONG TERM care of the trees. Plans that include the trimming of tree roots so the sidewalks don't get torn up by the TREE ROOTS! Good grief! Will somebody get the Mayor some keys to pass out to keep him busy?!! What a joke!


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

It is Ann &quot;Arbor&quot;.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

over $250.00 per tree.....what a deal!

J. A. Pieper

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

Interesting that we can plant trees with our financial struggles right now, but my safety is okay to continues making cuts for these most valuable services. I already water and care for plants/trees on the berm in front of my home, because it helps add shade and privacy on my busy street. But it goes to prove that AA will do anything possible to pass costs for services on to its tax payers, while still getting our high level of taxes.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

In spite of all A2's problems, trees are still important! I live in the 5th Ward. I've lost 2 trees on my greenbelt over the last few years and am anxious for replacements. And way to find out what the replacement trees will be? I have a stump that needs to be removed also. I'd be happy to water a tree - even tho I too am beset w/high bills, taxes and am presently on unemployment.... I assume my fortunes will change soon, and a tree or two on my greenbelt is good for my site, good for the neighborhood and city in general (and yes, the roots are a problem. We had to replace 16 sidewalk squares a few years ago...

marion lawrence

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

I'm dumbfounded...the city can not take care of the existing trees....look around you.......pathetic

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

did the city figure in my h2o bill into their budget? if not, which i doubt they did, they better figure on replacement co$ts, because it'll dry up. now, at $251.229166667/per tree. the article does not state what kind of tree is being planted. the inventory, reads to me, of the % of what's already in the ground. i can buy a nice purple maple all day long (retail) for $137. granted that's if i put it in...


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.

My guess is that OWS (or other Historic Districts) require more mature/upscale trees that fit their guidelines, which would skew your average.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

We have to admit that our city council is consistent. They do what they want to do, waste tax payer money, do not listen to the Ann Arbor tax payers and lack common sense. Mr. Anglin: When they plant my new tree, in 90 degrees plus weather, during the peak of the summer heat, contrary to good, planting judgement, you bring your can out to my new tree and you water it. Also remember that water rates just recently went up.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Excellent! It would be a sad &quot;Tree Town&quot; without any trees...and some of our trees are getting, er, long in the branch etc. I think this is an excellent plan. :O)


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

This is absolute bull, while most are living unemployment check to unemployment check, the city is buying trees. You guys are way out of touch with the average Ann Arborite. My average water bill is out of this world, and now you want me to water a stinking tree with my water? These trees will eventually lift your sidewalk causing the city to force you to replace it. If you want trees to grow, stop mowing the parks and fields. Have a nice day, hug a tree! Craigslist: City leaders wanted. Must be drug free for at least one month.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

This is a good idea. Whenever it floods, people say &quot;how come the city didn't do anything?&quot; Well, this is doing something relatively cheaply that will have an impact in the middle and long term. The downside of planting trees is pretty small. Plus you can hug them if you get bored ranting about the government.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

I could use a tree in front of my house. My neighborhood was devastated by the ash borer and for the long-term sake of the neighborhood we could use new street trees. In 20-30 years when I die and my heirs inherit my estate they can get top dollar on the sale because the street will have trees rather than look like the surface of the moon.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

No one in their right mind would plants trees in July or August or even September and expect them to live, even when watered! You plant trees in October when the weather is cool, the rains are more frequent and the ground is still warm enough for roots to establish. I would hope they are NOT planting them NOW!


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Cash, I agree with you that it would be crazy to plant in Summer. I live by Hunt Park by Sunset and Spring streets, and they planted trees this spring, put those green water bags around them, but never added water to them. If one spends the money for the trees, do what is needed to make sure they survive


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

I'm surprised no one has come up with the brilliant plan yet of forcing residents to buy rain barrels to water the trees with and/or fining people for not watering the trees. never once have I driven around town and thought to myself &quot;this area needs more trees&quot; incredibly wasteful,GRR!

Terry Redding

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

Great creative use of moving money around the &quot;buckets&quot; when city council wants to. Will anyone remember the money (and rationale) spent on trees out of the storm water CAPITAL budget when council comes to us for a mileage rate increase to pay for sewage treatment plant upgrades and repairs? If we are going to get creative in putting the money where we want it then how about some creative definition to take the money from, oh I don't know, the greenbelt mileage? At least that has trees in common across both buckets :-)


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

oh this is rich, do we need 1,200? really, wouldn't it have been fine to have say 300 or 400? (OR NONE) cut cops and fireman but by all means plant more trees. (and I love how the mayor wants people to pay more attention to the trees, should we hug the trees?) and from the stormwater capital budget. How about you fix the freaking stormwater problem in this town, you know so that streets don't flood and basements (and streets) don't have RAW SEWAGE back up into them every time it rains hard. YES RAW SEWAGE!!!!! and you want residents to water them, well of course you do, force tree planting in front of our homes, ask us to water them and then raise the water bills, not to mention cut leaf pickup and then talk about cutting garbage pick up too. The roots from the city trees were the reason we were forced by the city to pay for new sidewalk squares in front of our house, us three neighbors shelled out close to $600 each, because of city owned tree roots, and then the city stopped that program too. Ann Arbor, we are known for our art, trees and taxes (and not known for public safety, city services or common sense). RIDICULOUS

Grand Marquis de Sade

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

Criminals and firebugs must be laughing their collective butts off right now. How irresponsible does the city need to be before people say &quot;enough is enough&quot;?

the major

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

This is wildly irresponsible when you are laying off cops. I love parks and trees as much as the next Ann Arborite but I just can't see how this can be justified.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Quit wasting my tax dollars!


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Yes, planting trees is much more important than having police officers on the streets:-)


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

Or, be proactive: hope for the best, get a CWP, and practice at a range. *shrugs*