Residents of the cities of Oconomowoc and Delafield can request a free tree be planted in city right of ways, such as the grass between the sidewalk and street in front of their homes.

This perk is a benefit of living in a Tree City USA, a status Oconomowoc and Delafield have held for 23 and 19 years, respectively. To earn this designation, a community must meet guidelines set forth by the National Arbor Day Foundation, including having an established tree ordinance and per capita spending on trees.

Homeowners in each city can download request forms from the Oconomowoc Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department or the Delafield City Forester. Based on the ground space available, residents can select a small, medium, or large tree.

Silver Linden, Kentucky Coffee, Gingko, and Honey Locust trees have been popular choices. “Those are really good, hardy trees,” says Parks & Forestry Superintendent Bryan Spencer.

One aim of the Oconomowoc program is to encourage diversity among tree species. “When Dutch elm disease came in, it wiped everything out, and that’s what you want to avoid,” Spencer explains.

While most planting takes place in the fall, Oconomowoc is making some changes. “We are opening it up to planting in the spring because we want to get more varieties in, like some of the oaks and hybrid elms,” Spencer says.

While the current wait time is two to three years, homeowners can move to the top of the wait list by paying half the price of the tree. There’s no wait if homeowners agree to pay the full price of the tree, $100-175 depending on the species. The city still handles digging and planting.

“Some people just don’t want to wait, so we offer this option. It’s a really good deal,” says Spencer.

In Delafield, requests received by Oct. 1 will be planted the following spring, according to City Forester Sean Heinzel, “as long as a suitable planting site in within the right of way.”

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