Planting Trees & Shrubs on Town Property

A tree or shrub cannot be planted on the Town right-of-way without written permission from the Parks and Recreation Director. A Tree Impact Permit [PDF] is required to be submitted and approved before a tree or shrub can be planted. All permit applications shall be reviewed by Town staff to avoid any potential conflicts with existing utilities, pedestrian accessibility, and vehicular traffic zones. An approval will be issued if the proposed planting is suitable as to species and location. Any tree or shrub planted in the public right-of-way is subject to removal by the Town unless a permit for such planting has been obtained.

Town residents can also request a tree to be planted in the right-of-way in front of their home. All requests will be reviewed by Town staff to determine if a planting location is available to support a tree. Once any tree or shrub is planted in the public right-of-way, it becomes the property of the Town. 

Before deciding to plant a tree or shrub, confirm the location of your property line. The public right-of-way is generally the area between the street curb and sidewalk. The planting of a tree or shrub on privately owned property does not need the approval of the Town. If you are unsure if the property is public or private, please call the Parks and Recreation Department at 454-9540 and they can assist you. The McLean County GIS system, www.McGIS.org, can also be helpful to determine the public right-of-way.

State law requires you to notify JULIE at least two business days (excludes weekends and holidays) before any digging project regardless of the project size or depth. Even if you are digging in the same area as a previous project, notify JULIE by calling 8-1-1 or 800-892-0123.

Tree and Shrub Planting Location

The Town Municipal Code, Section 8.7 - Trees & Shrubs [PDF] provides guidelines to determine the availability of a tree or shrub planting location on the public right-of-way. A tree or shrub cannot be planted that would obstruct the view of any person or driver of a vehicle traveling along a street or sidewalk. A tree cannot be planted with an average height of more than 25 feet under overhead wires or interfere with any underground utility service or connection.

Tree plantings should be spaced 30 to 60 feet apart, based on the mature growth of the tree species. A tree cannot be planted:

  • closer than 50 feet from an approach corner with a traffic signal or stop sign
  • closer than 20 feet from any streetlight pole
  • closer than 15 feet from any regulatory street sign
  • closer than 10 feet from any driveway
  • closer than 10 feet from any fire hydrant
  • closer than 10 feet from a street stormwater inlet or box culvert
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Tree Planting Clearance

Trees planted in the public right-of-way must have adequate clearance between the street curb and sidewalk within the planting space. This ensures the healthy growth of the tree, as well as preserving the integrity of the surrounding infrastructure.

  1. If the right-of-way width between the curb and sidewalk is less than 4 feet, a tree cannot be planted.
  2. If the right-of-way width between the curb and sidewalk is between 4 and 5 feet, a small tree (with a potential mature height of no more than 25 feet) can be planted.
  3. If the right-of-way width between the curb and sidewalk is between 5 and 7 feet, a small or medium tree (with a potential mature height of between 25 to 40 feet) can be planted.
  4. If the right-of-way width between the curb and sidewalk is greater than 7 feet, a tree of any size can be planted (A large tree has a potential mature height of 40 feet or more).

Tree Species Selection



Trees planted in the public right-of-way must be included on the 
Recommended Tree List [PDF] compiled by the Town of Normal Parks and Recreation Department. The list is categorized by the potential mature height of each tree species from large (greater than 40 feet) to medium (between 25 and 40 feet) to small (25 feet and under). Town forestry staff are happy to help select a tree that would be best suited for a particular area.

  • Trees planted on a public right-of-way must have a minimum caliper of one inch and shall be symmetrical in growth with a single straight trunk, a dominant central leader, and a well-balanced branch structure.
  • Correct planting methods should be utilized. Planting too deep is the main reason that trees die. The bottom of the hole shall be no deeper than the height of the root ball so that the tree is placed on solid earth. Set all trees plumb and straight and at such a level that the top of the root flare, the first major root, is at or slightly above ground level. If necessary, remove excess soil from the top of the root ball. Cut and remove all ties from the root ball.
  • All trees should be properly staked with guy wires for one complete growing season. A two-inch layer of mulch should be placed around the tree, but do not mound the mulch against the tree trunk. Regularly water all newly planted trees thoroughly, especially during dry periods.