Street Trees

Rule of Trees

The “Rule of Trees” initiative relates to the MAP initiative Creating Desirable and Attractive Places. Muncie has been certified as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation since 1998. When creating a more attractive and desirable neighborhood, the strengths of the area/community should be emphasized. Muncie’s nearly 20 year existence as a Tree City USA is an ideal platform on which to start creating the future of TPA.

The MAP initiative of Managing Community Resources is also related to The Rule of Trees proposal because of the health of Muncie’s urban forest within TPA. It relates specifically to action 4: Implement Models of Sustainable Design throughout the city. This calls for the development of an Urban Tree Planting and Management Program. Such a document is essential when considering what trees to plant and where. Planting the correct type of tree not only protects the condition of the sidewalk, but can help to increase neighborhood pride.


Figure 1 – Conceptualization of 17th street and Elliot street with street trees. Source: Cody Hedges


At the February meeting of the Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association, residents mentioned concerns about street trees damaging sidewalks. Street trees can be an important factor in neighborhood beauty, but the correct type of tree must be used to avoid damage. This initiative was created to address a possible increase in the number of trees and the use of the appropriate type of tree.


The Arbor Day Foundation explains that trees help attract businesses and residents, increase home values, and can make an area more attractive to shoppers. Residents have expressed their satisfaction with the number of businesses in the area, and increasing the number of trees could serve to help the success of those businesses and possibly attract even more to the area.

In addition to the beauty that comes with trees, TPA can benefit from the stormwater runoff control offered by these trees. Stormwater runoff occurs when too much rainwater collects on the surface of the ground, particularly on hard surfaces like streets and sidewalks, and results in unwanted pollutants reaching the water supply. Street trees, or any trees for that matter, help control this runoff by absorbing additional water before it flows into drains. This produces a healthy water supply for the entire community.

Chelsea Fenimore Picture

Figure 2 – A view of west 13th street from south Hoyt avenue. Source: Chelsea Fenimore


During a Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association meeting, residents expressed concerns that current street trees have caused damage to sidewalks. To stop this from occurring with future street trees, the Muncie Parks Department requires that all planting of street trees go through their department. This is to make sure that the appropriate tree gets planted, so that the roots and/or limbs don’t cause damage, and because it is their department which is ultimately responsible for the trees.

To have street trees planted and appropriately maintained, the Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association will need to work together with the Muncie Parks Department and residents along a chosen street. To do this, the Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association will need to:

  1. Establish a Street Trees Action Committee.
  2. Through this committee, collect a group of volunteers that would be able and willing to plant trees.
  3. Through contact with community residents and businesses, determine a general area and time that the committee desires to have street trees planted.
  4. Contact the Muncie Parks Department at (765) 747-4858 to request one, or more, of the sixty (60) free trees made available each year by the Power Company.
  5. Arrange to have a location and tree type selected by the Muncie Parks Department based on the cities tree ordinance.
  6. Look to local businesses to purchase mulch for the tree or have it donated.
  7. Select a date for planting and arrange to have the volunteers gather.
  8. Prior to planting, make sure the individual leading the planting is familiar with the guidelines in “Tree in the City: A Homeowners Guide to Planning, Planting, Pruning Trees.”[1]


A Thomas Park/Avondale Street Trees Action Committee could be formed and will be held accountable for the planning and planting of street trees. Once contact has been established with the Muncie Parks Department, a date and location will need to be selected for retrieving and planting the street tree(s). It will be up to the residents along a given street, who should be consulted prior to deciding the location of planting of street trees, who will be responsible for keeping this action committee true to their word.


Figure 3 below shows potential locations and sizes of trees that could be planted in the street lawn along every street within TPA. A street lawn is the distance measured between the edge of the road and the sidewalk.

Based on standards set in “Tree in the City: A Homeowners Guide to Planning, Planting, Pruning Trees,” the suitability of each street lawn was determined based on its width. Black lines indicate that there is either no street lawn or it is less than 1 foot wide, which is not wide enough to plant any type of tree. Red lines indicate that a lawn is between 1 and 2 feet wide or that it is above 1 foot wide and there exist powerlines above that side of the street. This indicates that only small street trees should be planted in that given street lawn. Yellow lines indicate a tree lawn between 2 and 3 feet wide and up to medium sized trees can be safely planted in the space. Green lines indicate that the lawn is at least 3 feet wide and that any size tree can be planted.

It is important to remember to contact the Muncie Parks Department and to follow the steps outlined above before planting any trees. As a Tree City USA, Muncie is pushing to only plant native trees because they are better equipped to handle the weather and interact better with the surrounding environment. Information on the desirable types of trees can be found in the “Tree in the City: A Homeowners Guide to Planning, Planting, and Pruning Trees,” and through the Muncie Parks Department.


Figure 3 – The suitability of all streets within TPA for different sized street trees. Source: Cody Hedges


The Muncie Parks Department receives sixty (60) free trees every year from the Power Company for planting. These trees are available for free upon request, and, based on the supply for that year, from the Muncie Parks Department. To obtain these free trees:

  1. Call the Muncie Parks Department at (765) 747-4858.
  2. A secretary will create a ticket for Kellie McClellan, the city’s urban forester, to call you back and arrange for a free tree.

If the community desires to plan a larger project, a grant can be applied for through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. This can be done through the Muncie Parks Department or a not-for-profit organization. Guidelines to this grant can be found here. Documents for the completion of this grant can be obtained at the previous website and will require:

  • The application form,
  • A narrative of the project,
  • A detailed, itemized budget,
  • A timeline,
  • Public comment forms,
  • And not-for-profit documentation.

Contact Information

Muncie Parks Department – Office
1800 S Grant Street
Muncie, IN 47302
Phone:   (765) 747-4858
Contact: Kellie McClellan, Urban Forester, Certified Arborist

Additional Websites of Interest

[1] “Tree in the City: A Homeowners Guide to Planning, Planting, and Pruning Trees,” Muncie Urban Forestry Committee, accesses March 21, 2016,