Tree Committee

The mission of the Leawood Tree Committee is to inspire the citizens of Leawood to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. The Leawood Tree Committee will strive to fulfill its mission through citizen education and to be a resource to the city staff for management of its urban forest.

Leawood Street Tree Ordinance and Tree Information for Leawood Residents

New or Replacement Trees

The City of Leawood has an ordinance describing where Street Trees may be placed, replaced, or not replaced according to their relationship to curbs and sidewalks. The Leawood Street Tree Committee Tree Replacement Information document summarizes this ordinance.  It can be found following this article. The Tree Committee provides additional information to assist the homeowner in choosing and caring for a desirable street or private landscape tree. Kansas State University has research- based articles to assist in this care, and several are available on this Tree Committee web site. The homeowner can further seek information from the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension. A Gardening Hotline is available by calling 913-715-7050 or by sending information and photos by email to garden.help@jocogov.org. Information can also be found at the web site www.johnson.ksu.edu. Click on the heading Lawn and Garden on the left side of the website opening page.

Leawood Tree Committee Street Tree Replacement Information  

The City of Leawood recently made changes to the ordinance pertaining to street trees. These changes can be found in the city ordinance, Chapter XIII, Article 4. Trees represent a green part of the city’s infrastructure. This includes improved aesthetics leading to improved property values, reduced energy consumption, and stormwater and erosion control. 

One focus of the change is regarding street trees and their relation to the curb and sidewalk, if present. Tree Lawn is the term that defines where a street tree may be located or replaced. It describes the right-of-way area between the back of the curb to the sidewalk. When no sidewalk exists, it is the area between the back of the curb to the right-of-way line in the yard. These changes are intended to provide a standard for street tree placement, improve driving visibility, and to decrease root damage to sidewalks and curbs. The ordinance changes define the placement or replacement regulations for street trees.

-Street trees shall be placed in a minimum 10 feet wide tree lawn.

-Street trees shall be planted a minimum of 5 feet from the curb line when no sidewalk is present.

-Trees planted in tree lawns less than 10 feet wide but equal to or greater than 7 feet wide may be replanted in the same location.

-Trees existing in tree lawns less than 7 feet wide shall not be replaced.

The new ordinance, adopted in January 2019 is not retroactive in its application. The new ordinance does not apply to trees on private streets except where public safety concerns are involved. 

In addition to regulating the tree placement distance from curbs, directives exist for lateral placement of trees. 

-The minimum spacing for street trees shall be 30 feet for medium trees and 40 feet for large trees.

-Trees may not be planted within 35 feet of a tree corner.

-Trees may not be planted within 10 feet of a fire hydrant.

-Trees may not be planted within 20 feet for medium trees or    within 30 feet for tall  trees of any overhead electric   distribution lines.

-Trees may not be planted in violation of any overhead transmission line  utility easement.

Medium tree describes one that will have a height of 25 to 40 feet when mature. Large tree describes one that will have a height greater than 40 feet when mature. 

A Tree Committee has been established to help disseminate this information to each HOA board, with plans to provide presentations to the HOA boards as they desire. This Tree Committee contains representatives from the City Council, Parks and Recreation Department, and a few private citizens. A future plan envisions advising individual homeowners to help them make decisions on their own property. The Leawood website will have an area devoted to trees, including a list of recommended trees for this area, the new tree ordinance, and commentary on the ordinance. 

Helpful Information when Selecting a Tree

Recommended Landscape Trees for Metropolitan Kansas City is a good place to start.

https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/docs/lawn-and-garden/in-house-publications/trees-shrubs/Recommended%20Landscape%20Trees%20for%20KC%20Rev.%202020.pdf

Many homeowners are looking for smaller, specimen trees. https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/docs/lawn-and-garden/in-house-publications/trees-shrubs/Small%20Trees%20-%20Big%20Style.pdf 

Some Trees are better at resisting snow and ice:

https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/docs/lawn-and-garden/in-house-publications/trees-shrubs/Trees_Resistance_to_%20Wind-Rain-Snow-Ice.pdf 

The City of Leawood Street Tree Ordinance requires the Parks Department maintain a recommended street tree list on the City website. Note- the list of trees that are not recommended for planting:

https://www.leawood.org/wp-content/uploads/Parks/TreeCommittee/largestreettreelistrestrictedlist.pdf 

Tree Planting

The City Administrator has established a fee of $40.00 per residence for a permit to plant a street tree or remove a stump located in the street right-of-way portion of a homeowner’s lot. This permit is not required for tree planting or stump removal along private streets because there is no street right of way easement on private streets.

Proper planting is important for ideal tree growth. A grass-free ring around the tree, mulch or not, will facilitate faster growth:

https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/docs/lawn-and-garden/in-house-publications/trees-shrubs/Ten%20Steps%20for%20Successful%20Tree%20Planting.pdf

How to Plant a Ball in Burlap Tree or a Container Grown Tree:

https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3313.pdf

Tree Care

This pruning guide is a must for people who maintain their yards. It includes common landscape ornamentals plus many native plants:

https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/docs/lawn-and-garden/in-house-publications/trees-shrubs/Guide%20to%20Successful%20Shrub%20Pruning-REVISED.pdf 

Tree Diseases, Insects and Environmental Stresses. The link that follows brings you to a lengthy guide for use if you are attempting to diagnose a tree health problem. The table beginning at page 33 is arranged by host species. It is important to know what species of tree is the subject of your inquiry:

https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3132.pdf 

Tree Care Practices to avoid and why:

Tree Topping is an awful practice forbidden by Leawood’s Tree Ordinance. This article describes the process and why it is so bad for trees:

https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/fnr/fnr-faq-14-w.pdf 

Mulch Volcanoes and the proper way to mulch a tree:

https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/lawn-garden/agent-articles/trees-shrubs/how-to-mulch-trees.html 

If a tree expert is needed-a good place to start is the membership list of the Kansas Arborists Association. The Kansas Arborists Association is a professional organization dedicated to improving the quality of tree care through the training and certification of arborists:  https://www.kansasarborist.com/certified-commercial-arborists.html 

Educating Children about Trees

 Kansas Arbor Day Poster Contest for Fifth Graders

The Kansas Arbor Day Poster Contest under the direction of the Kansas Forest Service is an artistic competition open to public, private and home-schooled Kansas fifth graders that strives to increase awareness of the important role trees play in our quality of life. At present two public elementary schools in Leawood participate in the contest. The Leawood Tree Committee is working to increase participation. Here is a Kansas Forest Service link to poster contest information and the contest lesson plan:

https://www.kansasforests.org/community_forestry/arbor-day/poster-contest.html

Arbor Day Farm and Lied Center, Nebraska City, Nebraska
The Arbor Day Farm and Lied Center has several educational programs for children and adults. The accommodations and dining are outstanding and the distance to Nebraska City is short, two and one half hours or 156 miles up I- 29. Plan to stay at least overnight. There is lots to see and do. Arbor Day Farm is maintained by the Arbor Day Foundation which governs Leawood’s designation as a Tree City USA:

https://www.arbordayfarm.org/ 

Members

  • Lisa Harrison, Chair (2024)
  • Thad Carver, Vice-Chair (2024)
  • Bruce North (2022)
  • Debbi Adams (2023)
  • Dr. John Kenney (2023)
  • Jim Decker (2024)
  • Dr. Jim Earnest (2022)

Staff Liaisons:

Links of Interest

Minutes & Agendas

2021

December 09, 2021 Meeting

April 20, 2021 Meeting