The new trees on 7th St by the swimming pool seem to be suffering. Who’s responsible?

In the discussion about the sudden removal of the trees on 5th St, Jean Wakely wrote:

However, I have a Vote of NO CONFIDENCE that the new trees will be cared for properly. Just drive down 7th all the way to the pool. The trees were not staked, nor watered, nor guarded from damage from children and animals. They are not trimmed properly to promote strong trunks. The trees that have been broken to the nub have not been replaced and are growing like bushes. What will survive will continue to create problems from lack of proper trimming.

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So I took these photos earlier this week.

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Some of them do seem to be in rough shape, including several that are severely damaged at the base like the above photo on the right. (And several of them seem to be ash trees. Anyone know for sure?)

So who should be responsible for the long-term care and upkeep of these trees after the first months after planting, the City or the neighbors?


  1. I think BOTH, the neighbors and the City are responsible for the long-term care and upkeep of the trees.

    August 2, 2008
  2. John Thomas said:

    I would agree, but how are the neighbors supposed to help, considering there is no water source for several blocks?

    Last time I checked though, a little water on a plant never hurt. I have about 300 feet of garden hose available, but I don’t think even that is enough to stretch from the pool to the trees. The only 2 choices I see is haul water in 5 gallon buckets (cumbersome, and still need a water source), or crack open a fire hydrant, which is illegal.

    If the same type of cart that is used downtown to water the plants could only make a trip down the sidewalk once in a while, and give them a bit of water, it would be so helpful.

    I guess what concerns me is that if these trees were in front of a property, they would ask the property owner / tenant to take care of them. Problem is, in this situation, the city is the tennant, because the trees are in front of the park and pool.

    I think that it is time to speak with Joel and see if Public Works or Parks & Rec can assist with this.

    Also, with all the work that the city does with the tree services in town, maybe we can have them give us a consultation, and perhaps get them staked by a group of volunteers if that work is deemed necessary.

    My only concern is that as a volunteer, we do no further harm to the trees, as we may be well intentioned, but may not be properly trained on tree care.

    Once these trees mature, they will be very nice on Seventh, but many of them have been already destroyed, especially near Seventh and Washington.

    August 2, 2008
  3. Barbara Gentling said:

    I’m glad this issue has come up…a few years ago they redid Poplar-Jefferson Road & Jefferson Parkway from 246 to Hwy. 3. I walk & drive these streets & it pains me to see so many trees damaged or destroyed. A couple weeks ago I witnessed a couple teens attempt to bend a lower branch off a healthy trees on Poplar. The branch did not come off easily so they left it hanging. (It was also the week a tagger grafitied our mailbox.)

    I remember when Poplar-Jefferson Road was being redone. I wanted the sidewalk to be on the west side as the City owned the land & there were no lawns. The young guy from the City that was in charge stated at a council meeting, “We can’t do that because the City won’t maintain those walks.” I think this is the problem. All the planting beautification done in Northfield needs ownership.

    I have no problem with property owners being responsible if the plantings are on or near their property. However, boulevard plantings need the City to either hire out or maintain a watering schedule…or what is the point of planting all these trees?? The tree in front of my home never came back a second year despite being watered & mulched. My neighbor finally cut it down the third year…but the roots are still there so I can’t plant another. I say STOP planting until this issue can be resolved as we are wasting more money.

    August 2, 2008
  4. Vanessa Bodrie said:

    The trees on 7th Street near the pool are primarily oak, maple, linden and ginko trees – there might also be a couple of ash trees in the mix. Many of the ginko trees have been destroyed and most of the trees have severe damage to their trunks which will affect their future growth and stability.

    If there is money in the city budget to plant trees there should also be money set aside for routine watering and maintenance. I live near the pool and walk down 7th Street daily. The sight of those trees is downright upsetting and it seems miraculous that any of the trees have survived this long given the lack of care they have received.

    I think it would be helpful if concerned citizens would call or write to the City of Northfield to let city officials know that this is an issue we all care about. I will take some time now to do just that.

    Thanks for the blog post Griff – this is an issue which is overdue for some attention.

    August 2, 2008
  5. laurie cowles said:

    I’ve been observing the neglect mentioned in jean Wakely’s letter for years. The plantings on Jefferson Road are dismal – the soil was never amended, the trees were never watered, and the surrounding dirt is simply a weed bed. Native grasses would have been beautiful and the trees had potential, but they’ve been virtually ignored, and we can’t expect neighbors or volunteers to assume responsibility for median strips. The weeds growing out of the road have been 2 feet high, and half the trees are dead or struggling. What a tremendous waste of public funds – our local government needs to make city beautification a priority!

    August 3, 2008
  6. Debra Bjornard said:

    Another major problem with many boulevard trees in Northfield happens when the trees are originally planted. A lot of them are planted too deep. If the trunk of a tree goes straight into the ground like a telephone pole, it is too deep. One should see the trunk flare at the base of the tree. This insures that the feeder roots are in position to take up nutrients for the tree. Trees that are planted too deep will not thrive.

    We all pay taxes for our Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service. It is a wealth of information (, including how to properly plant and maintain trees.

    August 4, 2008

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