Your part in the shade tree disease control program

How do I report a diseased elm or oak tree?

Fill out an online request form via Minnetonka Mike (click on the Dutch elm or oak wilt disease inspection category), or call public works at 952.988.8400 during the months of June 1–September 1.

Will my neighbor know I reported his/her diseased tree?

No—inspection requests are anonymous. Tree inspectors respond to requests, but also mark diseased trees they notice while scouting the city. Requested inspections will occur once a tree inspector reaches the reported neighborhood.

Does the city mark diseased trees on its own property?

Yes—tree inspectors scout the entire city for diseased elm and oak trees and take inspection requests. This includes city parks and outlots, schools, businesses, residential properties, county and state road edges, railroad properties and trail easements. Diseased trees marked on city properties are issued to one of several work crews, who must follow the same removal guidelines and timelines as private property owners. Sites are rechecked for compliance after the removal deadline lapses.

What happens if a tree is marked for disease in Minnetonka?

  • A letter is left on site
  • A letter is mailed to the property owner
  • Tree inspectors recheck diseased elms for proper removal 30 days after initial inspection or after October 30 for oaks with oak wilt

Who should I hire to remove my diseased tree?

Visit the city’s Hiring a Tree Care Professional page for helpful tips and a list of contractors who work in Minnetonka.

What can I do to save my other elm trees?

There are chemical injections that may prevent Dutch elm disease from spreading to your elm trees. Visit the city’s web page on Preventive Elm Injections.

What is a certified arborist?

Arboriculture is the “science and art of caring for trees, shrubs, and other woody plants in landscape settings” (Arboriculture, 3rd Edition). A good arborist will offer a wide range of services such as pruning, removal, fertilizing, and pest control. The International Society of Arboriculture provides certification once a person obtains the required amount of experience working in the field and passes an exam. There are many experienced tree services that do not employ certified arborists, but who will do a fine job removing a diseased tree.

What are some things I should ask for when I am hiring a tree company?

You should always get 2–3 written price quotes before you choose one company. Ask to see proof of insurance and do not pay the company until the work is complete. Be wary of people that go door-to-door soliciting business. Before hiring a company, make sure they understand what is expected when Minnetonka condemns elm and oak trees and/or wood piles: 30-day timeline for elms, mid-fall deadline for oaks, wood removal or chipping, and stump de-barking. You do not need to grind out the stump, as long as the bark is stripped off the stump. Note about diseased oaks: If you or your neighbors have healthy red oaks within 100 feet of the diseased oak(s), you should hire a company that can offer treatments to prevent the spread to nearby oaks as well as tree removal.

How did tree inspectors determine property lines and what if I don’t think the marked diseased tree is on my property?

City tree inspectors have determined property lines based on physical factors such as fences, mowing lines, overhead power lines (which generally mirror property lines), and aerial photos with plat map lines on our computer system. In order to get the tree(s) reassigned to another property, you must show or explain the location of your property corners in question. If you think the tree is on your neighbor’s property, please try to resolve the dispute among yourselves. If you cannot agree, and would like more detailed information, you can go to city hall to the “public use” area to see if there is a survey on file for your property. Please contact our office so we can update our records.

How do I dispose of diseased elm or oak wood?

You have a few choices:

  1. You may bring the wood to the city’s free brush drop, located at 11522 Minnetonka Blvd., during normal brush drop hours only. The brush drop is open Mondays and Tuesdays, 12–8 p.m., and Saturdays, from 7 a.m.–3 p.m., mid-April thru mid-November. You must bring your diseased tree letter from the city with you. If you hire a contractor, they can bring the wood here as well, free of charge but you must accompany them without exception. We use a large tub grinder to chip all of the wood into mulch.
  2. You or your contractor may grind the wood and keep the wood chips on site for landscaping. Once the wood is chipped, it is no longer a threat to spreading the disease.
  3. You may have your contractor haul it off site and dispose of it for you at a charge.

Does the stump of my diseased tree have to be ground out and removed?

The stump does not have to be ground out, but all the bark must be pulled back or removed from it. If the stump is in a high traffic or grassy (mowed) area, you may want to consider removing it for aesthetic or safety reasons, but it is not necessary for disease control. The city will not record the work as “complete” until the bark is removed from the stump.

What if I don’t think I can remove my diseased tree and/or properly dispose of the wood within the specified time period?

If you believe you will need an extension beyond the removal deadline, please contact the Natural Resources Division at 952.988.8421 between 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extensions of up to one week will be granted on a case-by-case basis when you present relevant information. When calling, refer to your property address and be prepared to give the name of the contractor you have hired. The site will be re-checked for completion after your extension has ended.

What does DBH mean, and what factors influence how much a tree will cost to remove?

DBH is a forestry term that means diameter (in inches) measured at breast height, which is 4.5 feet from the ground. Multi-stem trees are measured as one tree at the narrowest point above ground. Beyond DBH, removal pricing is based on the tree’s location within the property and the presence of obstructions. Listed below is a description of how these factors are considered.

  • Location: Front yard trees are generally easier to access with equipment so can be less expensive to remove than a tree in your backyard or undeveloped wooded lot.
  • Obstruction: The price for removal goes up based on several types of obstructions to removal like overhead utilities, steep slopes, or structures (house, shed, garage, fence, etc).

What if there are utility lines over my tree?

When removing any tree, it is very important that you be aware of any overhead utilities that are near or travel through the tree. The utility companies must be notified of the situation well in advance of the tree’s removal so they may assist you. When you contact a utility company, make sure that you notify them that you have a diseased elm tree, and give them your deadline. Please notify our office if there are any delays. There are two types of situations that occur when your tree has wires near or in it:

  • Pole to Pole: This situation involves electric service to more than one residence because the wires in your tree are connected between service poles. The utility company usually prefers to handle trees around these lines by removing as much of the tree as necessary to prevent damage to their lines, and to make it “safe” for other contractors to remove. They may remove only a portion of the tree and leave the remaining wood debris. It is your responsibility to dispose of any elm wood left on site.
  • Pole to House: This situation involves the utility lines running from service pole to your house. It is common for the utility company to disconnect the service lines involved while you or your contractor removes the tree. They will then reconnect the service lines after the work is complete. You should set a specific time for disconnection and re-connection of your service to facilitate both the efficient removal of the tree and the restoration of your service.
  • Each situation is different. Call Xcel Energy to find out more: 1-800-895-4999
  • Other contact numbers:
    • CenturyLink Communications: 1-877-348-9007
    • Comcast: 612.522.2000

Can Siberian or “Chinese” elms get Dutch elm disease?

Siberian elms are resistant to Dutch elm disease but not immune. The disease can progress slower in Siberian elms, causing dieback over time instead of complete wilting and death. Forestry staff condemns Siberian elms with 50% or greater dieback since they become high risk breeding sites for elm bark beetles.

Can white oaks get oak wilt?

Oak Wilt is a fungus that affects red and white oaks differently. A red oak infected with the disease will generally wilt and die in the same season but in white oaks the infection may have an effect on the tree over several years. In the case where a white oak has already been infected, prompt therapeutic treatments (taking place from May–September) have been successful in minimizing the progression of the disease. Forestry staff does not require the removal of white oaks with oak wilt.

I have seen other dead elms or oaks around the city that have not been marked for removal, what should I do?

Please call Public Works at 952.988.8400 between 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m. with the address of the site and a brief description of the tree(s) location. The entire city is inspected by three tree inspectors. They will fit inspections in when they reach the neighborhood.

Should I notify anyone after I’ve removed my diseased tree?

It is not necessary to notify our office, because the tree inspectors or city forester will revisit each address to confirm the removal of all diseased trees and wood in person after the specified time period has lapsed.

What is the right-of-way and why am I responsible for diseased trees along the road?

The right-of-way is the portion of your property that borders the road edge. Although the street right-of-way is not listed as part of your property title, homeowners own the property under the right-of-way, generally to the centerline of the street.

The city uses the right-of-way for snow storage, utilities, and trims trees that hamper visibility or safety along the road. If there is a diseased tree in your right-of-way that is marked for removal, the city will share the cost with you. Learn more about the city’s cost share program.

What constitutes a diseased elm tree?

The city marks elms with Dutch elm disease (DED), which is a fungal disease that kills trees. Common symptom of DED are wilting and/or browning leaves in the upper portions of the canopy. Dead elms (including firewood) with tight bark are also marked for removal because they create breeding sites for the beetles that spread the fungus. Dead elms without intact bark are no longer a disease risk and are not marked for removal. Good sanitation (removal of diseased trees) and chemically treating at-risk trees are the best strategies for managing Dutch elm disease.

What constitutes a diseased oak tree?

The city marks select red oaks with oak wilt (OW), which is a fungal disease that kills trees. Only red oaks that have a capacity to produce a spore mat are marked for removal.

Common symptoms of oak wilt are wilting and/or browning leaves in the upper portions of the canopy. Red oak firewood is not marked, but if you are required to remove a diseased red oak, you must debark it or dispose of the wood properly. White oaks are not marked for removal. Good sanitation (removal of diseased red oak trees), chemically treating at-risk trees and root graft disruption with a vibratory plow are the best strategies for managing oak wilt.

Will the city inspect my non-elm/oak tree?

Beyond Dutch elm disease and oak wilt, there are hundreds of other tree diseases, insects, disorders, and environmental conditions that can lead to a tree’s decline. At this time, the city does not perform inspections of trees other than elms and oaks on private property. The city forester can provide over-the-phone guidance to residents with tree disorders/diseases other than Dutch elm disease and oak wilt as time permits.

Does the city inspect ash trees for emerald ash borer?

Emerald ash borer has not yet been found in Minnetonka. There are many reasons an ash tree has dead branches or dieback. Before requesting an inspection, learn more about signs of emerald ash borer. The city will only accept select ash tree inspection requests.

What is the history of the shade tree disease control program in Minnetonka and when did the city start requiring homeowners to remove elms?

Minnetonka’s shade tree disease control program began in 1974, when Dutch elm disease that had infected and killed millions of elms east of the Mississippi River began to appear in Minnesota. In 1974 a total of 25 oaks and 26 elms were lost to disease in Minnetonka. In the peak year, 1978, Dutch elm disease killed 8,339 elms and oak wilt claimed 244 red oaks.

The city has required property owners to remove diseased elms and red oaks from their land since shortly after the program began in 1974. View details about the city ordinance. In 2007, the city began a cost-sharing program for diseased elms and red oaks along the road edge. Under this program, the city and the property owner are each responsible for half the removal cost if the tree is located within the right-of-way.

Currently, an average of 2,000 elms and 75 red oaks are identified as diseased and marked for removal city-wide each year. From June to September, on average, the city forester and 2–3 seasonal tree inspectors complete over 1,500 initial tree inspections on public and private property in order to identify elms with Dutch elm disease and oaks with oak wilt. Every site is rechecked for compliance after the property owner’s deadline lapses. Each private property owner is notified with a door hanger when their property has met the city’s guidelines for disease control. Tree inspectors make approximately 3,200 total site visits during the growing season.

Where can I find a local firewood source?

Using locally produced firewood is more important than ever before. Learn why and find out where to buy local firewood.

If you need to hire a tree contractor to remove a diseased tree, consider visiting the Hiring a Tree Care Professional page.