Street Tree Planting Restrictions

Location of street trees is very important for the safety of the residents and the longevity of the tree. The following are minimum criteria that must be met when planting trees within the right-of-way, and are defined in Municipal Code Article VII Trees and Shrubs which can be found here.

  1. The areas as defined in section 74-98 "vision clearance triangle" shall remain free of shrubs which exceed a height of two feet measured from the roadway.
  2. Large street trees shall be at least five feet from any paved surface, including sidewalks.
  3. No shrub or woody vegetation shall be planted in the right-of-way within 3 feet of any paved surface.
  4. 10 feet from box culverts.
  5. 15 feet in front of regulatory signs.
  6. 10 feet behind regulatory signs.
  7. 20 feet from streetlight poles.
  8. 10 feet from fire hydrants.

If streetlight cables are located in the area to be planted, the street tree shall be planted closer to the sidewalk.

Kansas One-Call (811), Water One (913/895.1800) must be contacted prior to planting for utility locates. Trees shall be placed to avoid conflicts with existing utilities.

Tree Species Selection

Trees are a long-term commitment, so it is important that the right species be chosen. Trees within the right-of-way (street trees) must be deciduous, and have a mature height of over 25 feet.

Small trees are only allowed where an overhead power line exists or when the tree can be planted at least 6 feet from a sidewalk or curb.
Fruiting trees, those with messy fruits or weak branch structure, are not allowed within the right-of-way.

The right-of-way can vary depending on the street, however, in most cases it is 50 feet wide or 25 feet from the center of the road.
If your house has a sidewalk, this is the green space located between the sidewalk and the curb. If you do not have a sidewalk, it is typically measured 11 feet from the back of the curb.

The property owner is responsible for routinely trimming street trees of dead wood, and to meet height clearance requirements. These clearances are defined as 8 feet over the sidewalk and 12.5 feet over the street. This requirement is difficult to reach on a small tree with a mature height of less than 25 feet, thus excluding them from the approved list.

This list acts as a guide but in no way encompasses all the species and cultivars allowed to be planted in the right-of-way. To plant a species not on the list please contact the Merriam Public Works Department prior to planting.

Proper Tree Planting Techniques

To give your tree the best chance for survival, proper planting is essential. Too often we see trees that have been planted improperly and consequently will never reach maturity.

  • To determine ideal dimensions of the planting hole, dig a hole twice as large and slightly shallower than the root ball. Loosen the sides and bottom of the planting with a pick or shovel, so root tips can penetrate the native soil.
  • Remove the container on containerized trees or rope and top portion of burlap and wire from those that are balled with burlap.
  • Plant trees at the level of the exposed buttress roots or root flare. The top half of the root ball should be totally exposed with no restrictions. If possible remove the entire burlap and wire basket as it is important that you don’t compromise the fibrous roots.
  • Place tree in hole by lifting underneath the root ball, and not the trunk. Balance the tree and make sure it is at the appropriate height.
  • Back fill evenly around the root ball using the soil from the planting hole.
  • Soaking the tree with water at the time of planting is very important. Tree stakes should be used for tall trees or those planted in windy or wet locations.
  • Spread a layer of organic mulch over the root system of the tree. The mulch should only be 2-4 inches deep and pulled away from the trunk 2-3 inches.