Shade Tree Commission
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do when a neighbor’s tree branches extend over my property?
The Township has no legal authority regarding tree disputes on private property.
Who trims the branches from the street trees?
The homeowner is responsible for required tree pruning where the tree originates on private property. The majority of street trees in the Township originate on private property. Millstone Township Shade Tree Commission (MTSTC) recommends residents contact a NJ Board Certified Tree Expert (CTE) for all tree pruning concerns. It is assumed the consumer protections offered by the CTE Board control of CTE licensing are worthwhile. CTE listings can be found in the phone book under “Tree Services” or at the following website: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/cte.html
Who takes care of fallen or broken hanging branches?
The property owner is responsible for any branches or debris that may fall from their trees.
Can I remove trees on my own property?
Before you cut down your trees or clear an area of brush exceeding 1000 square feet, take a moment please and read our “Tree Clearing” Ordinance. Ordinance No. 10-25 was adopted on 10-20-10 and can be found in Chapter XXXV, Land Use, Article 11, Section 11-32 Tree Clearing. You may be required to apply for a permit. This ordinance does not prohibit clearing on private property; however it does protect residents from clearing in restricted areas that may be present on a portion of their property such as wetlands, easements, steep slopes, etc. For further information on this Township website, click on the heading “Government” and the category “Township Code Book” and find the above section in the “Land Use and Development” code book.
Who prunes tree branches in wires?
The local utility company, JCP&L (Jersey Central Power & Light, a.k.a. First Energy), is responsible for removing branches near or in the electric wires. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRIM TREES NEAR ELECTRIC WIRES. Notify JCP&L 800-662-3115 of any electric wire concerns.
Who removes the dead tree in front of my house?
The homeowner is responsible for the removal of trees located on private property. For removal of a tree within the Township Right of Way, please contact the Millstone Township Code Enforcement Officer at 732-917-2955 prior to removing the tree. The Code Enforcement Officer or their designee will inspect the tree and authorize the removal. Millstone Township has a Tree Clearing Permit for areas of 1,000 square feet or greater. Refer to #4 above for additional information.
Where is the Township Right of Way (ROW)?
There is no single easy answer. Each property location can have specific differences that do not apply to the next location. Individual home survey plans associated with the tax maps should lead to a better understanding of the specific property line location and/or to the township right of way location. Licensed Surveying produces exact positions.
How do I tell if my tree is alive?
A close inspection of tree branch tissue and the leaf buds. Environmentally stressed trees may cause the leaves to take longer to emerge than the surrounding tree’s leaves. Contact a Certified Tree Expert (CTE) for their professional services. The listing of NJ Certified Tree Experts can be viewed at the following website: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/cte.html
What is the mulch ring around the base of my tree and can I use my string trimmer to cut the grass and weeds here?
Tree mulch rings installed and maintained to current arboricultural standards are simple and wonderfully beneficial to plant and tree health. Mulch beds allow for very easy weed management. Mulch beds do not eliminate weeds but allow excellent soil conditions for tree vigor and for very easy weed management. All types of mechanical damage to tree trunk tissue (string trimmers/lawn mower decks, knife carving, etc.) cause the tree stress and should be avoided. A lawn area is a harsh condition for tree roots to compete for available water and nutrients. Creating generous plant beds (ie: off the tree trunk collar and a maximum 2”-4” of mulch thickness) avoid mechanical damage to the tree trunk.
Can I plant my home landscaping anywhere on my property?
Plantings should be located off the property lines, off any easements (site triangle, utility, drainage, etc.) and plants should not be installed in the right of way (ROW), on township properties or in traffic site views. Allow sufficient space for plants to grow to maturity. Prior to planting, please call the following service Call Before You Dig 1-800-272-1000 and request a utility mark out to avoid any damage to existing utilities.
What types of trees do you plant and why?
Recommendations from the nursery industry and from the academic experts on the best tree types have adapted over time. The current revision to the MTSTC Approved Street Tree planting list is the desire to match the general conditions found throughout the Township and the three different potential growth space categories- Shade Trees. Flowering Trees, and Fastigiate (Upright or Columnar) Trees- which should meet differing situations found in many subdivisions. The Approved Street Tree planting list is posted on this web site. Visit www.arborday.org for additional tree information.
Do I need to water trees?
Yes- most newly installed plants require above average watering. Typically, additional watering for a newly planted tree is recommended, especially during the first two years. The current understanding of balled and burlapped trees is: 90% +- of the tree system was left at the nursery where the tree was dug. The installed tree has 10% +- root surface to absorb water. While too much water can rot trees, a thoughtful balance of extra water is typically needed for planted trees, especially for the first two (2) years.
Why does the power company have to make such a large hole through my street tree?
To maintain your and the neighborhood electric supply. This continuing situation is where trees with the greatest potential for growth space have been planted right under the overhead utility wire. The trees survival mechanism continues to grow branches into the best light source- which is right where the overhead wires are! We have not discovered a usable solution for this continuing problem. Do not plant trees with large potential growth space under the overhead wires. Please refer to #11 to see best types of trees to be planted in specific planting areas around overhead wires.
What does it mean to be a “Tree City USA?”
The municipality must maintain four separate standards or criteria:
- Shade Tree Commission
- A Community tree Ordinance
- A Tree Program, Minimum $2 Per Capita
- Arbor Day Observation & Proclamation
How long has Millstone Township been a Tree City?
How do I tell what kind of tree I have?
The Short answer is experience. And you can visit www.arborday.org for helpful tree identification links.
What do I do about Hornet’s nests and Bees?
Please do not agitate or disturb the nests. Hornets are especially aggressive. Keep the kids from throwing stones and such at the nest- hornet stings hurt and may lead to breathing problems if the person has an allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock). Getting stung by agitating the nest is not the best way to find this out. If the tree originates on private property it is the responsibility of the homeowner. Call a certified pesticide applicator company.
Does my tree have a disease?
Natural tree back characteristics (London Plane) can look a disease to many people. Excessive leaf fall or too little leaf emergence in the springtime could be a disease. Accurate diagnosis, pest or cultural problems in trees, take experience. Please call your local Certified Tree Expert (CTE). The listing of NJ Certified Tree Experts can be viewed at the following website: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/cte.html
Why is my tree dead?
First check for mechanical damage to the trunk, and call your local Certified Tree Expert (CTE). The listing of NJ Certified Tree Experts can be viewed at the following website: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/cte.html
Invasive species: Plants that should not be planted.
There are certain species of trees and plants that should not be planted. Invasive species are those that are introduced to an area outside their natural range where they eventually have detrimental effects on natural and agricultural systems. You should not plant invasive species on your property because they can cause harm and damage to other trees that are in close proximity or grow so out of control that they are encroaching onto your neighbor’s properties. One example of an invasive and nuisance species is Bamboo. Bamboo grows rapidly and strangles the surrounding root systems of other trees, thus killing the trees. Refer to www.arborday.com and other websites for a listing of other invasive species.
Can I remove a tree on my property if it is located in a Conservation Easements, Wetland, or Steep Slope?
Your property may have protected or restricted areas such as conservation easements, wetlands, wetland buffers or steep slopes where tree and brush removal are prohibited. Conservation easements are deed restricted. Steep slopes are defined by the Township as a slope of 15% or greater. Wetlands and wetland buffers are regulated by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. No tree or brush should be cleared in these areas without the appropriate Township or State approval. If you have a dead or hazardous tree in one of these protected areas, contact Millstone Township Code Enforcement at 732-917-2955, to notify them prior to removal. The Code Enforcement Officer or their designee will inspect the tree and authorize the removal. In the rare case of an imminent threat to person or property where the tree needs to be removed immediately during non-business hours, please take photographs showing the tree condition and location, then contact Code Enforcement with the information. No stumps are to be ground or removed in these protected areas. To find out if a tree is hazardous, contact a Certified Tree Expert (CTE). The listing of NJ Certified Tree Experts can be viewed at the following website: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/cte.html
What trees or plants are toxic to my animals?
For a listing of plants that are toxic to horses, dogs or cats, visit the following website: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants
What can I do to prevent deer from ruining my plants and trees?
There is no simple answer to this question. Male deer frequently rub their antlers on young trees, especially those with soft bark. The rubbing scrapes bark from the tree, often causing an interruption of the trees natural transport system, causing cankers, and can leave pathways for insects or fungus to the inside of the tree. Tree wrap is often utilized to prevent deer rub on bark; however research has proven the wrap to be harmful to the tree also causing decay, fungus and insects. Therefore tree wrap is not recommended. Continued deer browsing (feeding on leaves and twigs) can stunt the growth of trees and shrubs. The best deer protection starts with prevention. In unprotected, unfenced areas, it is best to plant deer resistant tree and plant species. Rutgers University has a listing of plant and tree species with deer resistance ratings. Visit their website at: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/deerresistance