Public Works - Forestry Division

Trees offer numerous benefits for the community and the environment. They improve the air quality and provide for a cooler community in the summer heat. They can lessen the affect of noise pollution along busy highways. They help lower wind speeds and provide soil stabilization with their root systems. They can increase property values. Trees also provide psychological benefits by helping reduce stress and providing a sense of calm in a busy world.

There are more than 24,000 trees located in public spaces in the Village of Skokie that provide the aforementioned benefits. The primary goal of the Forestry Division is to maintain the health and safety of these public trees and to increase the urban forest, so that it increases in value and functions into perpetuity.

The Forestry Division manages and performs many functions in order to achieve this goal. Tree pruning, tree removal, tree planting, disease control and tree protection are all programs managed by this Division. The authority for these functions is given by the Village Tree Ordinance.

Parkway Tree Planting - FREE Parkway Trees Available!

To encourage more parkway tree planting, the Village is waiving fees for parkway trees for 2019. Free parkway trees are available for houses and multi-unit residential buildings, businesses, religious congregations, schools and other properties.

The free parkway trees are being offered in cooperation with the Sustainable Environmental Advisory and Beautification & Improvement Commissions to promote recovery of tree canopy losses throughout the Village because of trees that had to be removed due to Emerald Ash borer damage.

Trees are important as they increase property values, reduce air conditioning bills, clean the air, intercept storm water and decrease exposure to harmful UV rays.

If you are interested in having a free parkway tree planted on your property, please call the Public Works Forestry Division at 847/933- 8427. Supplies are limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. A Village forester will evaluate the parkway to determine if there is adequate space for a tree. Eligible property owners will receive a list of available tree choices, and will be required to water the tree for two years.

Parkway Tree Pruning Program 
The Village of Skokie maintains all the trees on the parkway through its routine pruning program. Each parkway tree is pruned every five to seven years. This pruning occurs in the winter months from November through March and is performed by a qualified contractor. Trees are pruned for the following reasons: to remove hazardous deadwood, to eliminate interference with low limbs, to clear stop signs, street lights and buildings, to reduce the effects of wind and ice on branch stability and to repair storm damaged limbs. Parkway tree pruning is necessary for the continued tree growth and health.

Water during Dry Periods
If you have a new or young tree in your parkway, keep it healthy by watering it during dry periods. New trees need about one inch of rain per week to become established. If they do not receive this rain, provide a deep soak by gently running the hose at the base of the tree for about an hour. Maintaining a ring of mulch around the base of the tree 2-3" deep will keep the soil moist longer. However, do NOT pile or place the mulch against the trunk of the tree. This will cause the bark to rot and decay, eventually killing the tree.

Dutch Elm Disease in Skokie
Dutch elm disease (DED) is an aggressive pathogen that kills trees. It is considered the most costly shade-tree disease. Unfortunately, the disease is still active in Skokie because there are still over 400 susceptible parkway elms. The good news is that DED can be managed so that minimal trees are impacted. The removal of infected or dead elm wood is the most important control of DED. Elm bark beetles that spread the disease breed in this old wood. If you spot an American elm that is losing its leaves, wilting or turning yellow well before the fall, please call the Forestry Division.

The Division also provides a 50/50 cost share fungicide treatment program for parkway elms to help control the disease. Residents who have an American elm are eligible to participate in this program. The treatment consists of injecting a liquid fungicide into the water-conducting tissue of the tree. It has a very good success rate in preventing DED infection from the feeding of elm bark beetles for up to three years. After three years, the tree must be retreated for continued protection from DED. Residents with a private elm may contact the Village's contractor to have their tree treated for the same cost.

Emerald Ash Borer
In April 2007, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) confirmed the presence of the emerald ash borer in a tree at Crawford and Grant Avenues in northeast Skokie. In summer 2006, the destructive insect was found in several nearby towns, and Skokie is in the quarantine area established by the IDOA. Skokie has approximately 3,000 ash trees, representing 12% of the Village's 24,000 trees growing on public property. Each year, Village foresters perform a systematic survey of all parkway ash trees. Those determined to be in poor condition or with evidence of emerald ash borer infestation are slated for removal. Residents are notified if a tree on their parkway will be removed. The Village is not offering assistance for ash trees on private property at this time. Residents concerned about an ash tree on their property are encouraged to call an International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist who has signed the "Emerald Ash Borer Compliance Agreement" with the IDOA.

For detailed information please click here.

Tree City U.S.A. Recognition
Because of the Forestry Division's efforts, the Village of Skokie has received Tree City U.S.A. status since 1985. Tree City U.S.A. is a program to recognize communities that effectively manage their public tree resources. The National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes towns and cities across the United States that meet the standards for Tree City U.S.A.  Arbor Day is celebrated in Skokie every year on the last Friday in April.

The standards for the award are as follows:

  • The community must establish a forestry department.
  • The community must adopt a community tree ordinance.
  • The community must spend at least $2.00 per capita on tree related issues.
  • The community must facilitate an Arbor Day observance that includes a proclamation.


Sewer Roots
If you have the problem of tree and shrub roots growing in your sewers, please click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.