Tree Preservation

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The City of Crystal Lake has long been known for its beautiful natural setting. The old growth oak/hickory forests and other wooded areas lend Crystal Lake its natural character. Crystal Lake’s Tree Preservation Ordinance was established in 2002 by the Mayor and City Council for the purpose of preserving and protecting this precious resource.

For More Information
If you have any questions or comments regarding tree preservation, protection or removal, please contact one of the following:

For trees on public property, such as the parkway: Street Division 815-459-2020.

For trees on private property: Planning & ED Department 815-356-3615

Value of Trees
Trees provide many benefits to Crystal Lake’s urban environment: They

  • Provide habitat and food source for birds and other wildlife.
  • Naturally reduce air pollution by filtering out harmful gases and replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen.
  • Lower heating and cooling costs.
  • Reduce surface water runoff & erosion from storms.
  • Absorb sound and buffer noise, such as vehicle traffic.
  • Enhance economic stability by attracting businesses and visitors.
  • Increase property values up to 15 percent.

Tree Preservation Ordinance
Big Tree

Various City departments are committed to preserving and promoting the aesthetics of our community. The purpose of the City’s Tree Preservation Ordinance is to preserve trees and, in the event that tree removal is necessary, to ensure that appropriate replacement trees are planted.



The ordinance is also intended to:

  • minimize erosion and storm water runoff
  • provide buffers between neighboring properties
  • minimize the visual and environmental impacts of paved surfaces and buildings
  • ensure landscaping in conjunction with new development and redevelopment in a manner that preserves native vegetation

General Requirements for Tree Removal
The Tree Preservation Ordinance requires that a tree removal permit be acquired prior to removal of a protected tree in the City. A tree removal permit must be obtained from the Building Division. There are properties that are exempt from the ordinance requirements. They are:

  1. Single family residentially zoned parcels that are smaller than 3 acres that were created before 2002.
  2. Commercial nurseries or orchards.
  3. Properties for which a landscaping or tree preservation plan was approved.

There are penalties for not obtaining a tree removal permit, if required. Please call first and ask before removing a tree! This ordinance is intended to balance the property rights of individual property owners with the overall health, safety and welfare interests of the community.

You can access the City’s Tree Preservation Ordinance Article 3 in the Unified Development Ordinance  here. 

Bird in TreePlanting a Tree
Select a site that is in full sun. Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball (container), and no deeper than the height of the root ball. The soil that you dig out of the hole is what you use to backfill around the root ball. No soil amendments are recommended when planting a tree; therefore, no compost, peat moss, or shredded pine bark should be added to the backfill.

After planting the tree, build a 4-inch tall berm around the edge of the hole. Fill the berm with a mulch (i.e. shredded bark, compost). The mulch and berm make it easier to water the tree and reduce weed competition.

For most trees, staking is not recommended; however, if the tree trunk is not sturdy enough, use two stakes, one on either side of the tree, and give the trunk support for the first year only. Below are diagrams of a typical tree planting.

Right after planting, water the tree in by filling the bermed basin with water. This will settle the existing soil around the root ball. For the first week after planting, lightly water the tree every day (about one pint of water each day). The second week, water every other day with about one quart of water. During week three, water every third day with two quarts of water. Week four and beyond, water once a week if needed. The goal is to wean the tree slowly off of supplemental irrigation, and get the root system large enough for the tree to thrive on natural rainfall.

REMEMBER: These are just guidelines. Use your index finger to check the soil moisture under the mulch. If the soil is cool to the touch, do not water. If it is warm and dry, then water. More plants are killed by over-watering than by under-watering.

tree planting

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