Tree Planting

The planting of trees on public right-of-way in Champaign is regulated by the City vegetation ordinance. This ordinance establishes two ways to plant trees: The first is through Champaign’s Share-The-Cost tree planting program; the second is through a permit issued to adjacent homeowners or developers.

Share-The-Cost Program

In this program, the City provides shade trees for planting on the public right-of-way at a cost of $135 per tree. The City cooperates with the adjacent homeowner to select the tree species, and the City plants the trees. The homeowner agrees to water the tree during dry periods for the first three years after planting. The City plants in both the spring and fall. Cutoff dates for enrollment are in late February for the spring, and late August for the fall season. First time tree plantings in new developments are not eligible for participation in this program, as the developer is responsible for new tree planting on the right-of-way.

Permit Process

Through the permit process, the adjacent homeowner obtains a free permit from the City to ensure selection of a proper species and proper location. The homeowner bears all the costs associated with planting. As with the cost-share program, the homeowner agrees to water trees during dry periods for the first three years of planting.

Tree Planting Permit Form

New Development

Developers are required to plant trees on the City right-of-way in new developments. Because of the large scale of plantings, adjacent homeowners can not request a particular species or location. The developer guarantees these trees for one year. If the tree dies after the development period the homeowner may plant using the share-the-cost program or the permit process.


Once a tree is planted on City right-of-way, it becomes the property of the City. The City is responsible for all maintenance. Permits can also be issued for tree maintenance. In those cases, the work must be performed by or under the supervision of a certified arborist. To obtain a list of certified arborists, contact the International Society of Arboriculture at

Tree Planting Standards

  • The planting hole should be 12″-24″ larger in diameter than the diameter of the root ball, and root balls shall be placed on undisturbed subgrade to prevent settling.
  • The root flare, where roots spread at the tree base, should always be at the ground line. Often nurseries mound soil around the tree base above the root flare. When balled with burlap, the basal flare is hidden. If the tree is planted with the top of the ball at ground line, the tree will have been planted too deeply.
  • The twine holding the burlap around the ball must be cut and the burlap loosened from around the top of the ball. Wire baskets shall be removed from the top one-half of the root ball prior to backfilling.
  • The hole should be backfilled and gently tamped so that no air pockets are left around the ball. Backfill soil should not be amended unless planting in building rubble, poor, or severely disturbed soils.
  • The trunks should be vertical after planting.
  • Excess soil should be removed from the site and a 3″ to 4″ thick layer of wood chip mulch placed around the base of the tree. Avoid placing wood chip mulch directly in contact with the trunk.
  • Plants should be watered at the time of planting.
  • Protective tree wrap should be removed after planting.
  • Staking is not typically recommended; however, when necessary, follow current recommendations of City Forester. Wire in a hose is unacceptable.
  • Plants should be pruned after planting only to remove broken or dead branches.
  • Planting Criteria: The parkway must be 7 feet or more in width.
  • Trees must be 10 feet from driveways, alleys, and fire hydrants.
  • Trees must be 30 feet from intersections.
  • Trees must be located a minimum of 50 feet from adjacent trees.
  • The planting site should be free of overhanging crown growth from trees growing off the right-of-way.