Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Topeka?
- 2 Does the City of Topeka Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
- 3 Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal in Topeka?
- 4 How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Topeka?
- 5 Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Topeka?
- 6 What If Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Topeka?
- 7 How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Topeka?
What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Topeka?
One of the common issues that has a big impact on the trees of Topeka may just have something to do with the name of the town. The name “Topeka” is derived from a Kans a-Osage word “place where it is easy to dig potatoes” or “place where we dig potatoes”, according to which translation you are referring to. Either way, if it’s easy to dig potatoes, that may explain why this area sees so many uprooted trees. Apparently, the soil in and around the greater Topeka area is very healthy for growing just about anything but loose enough to cause uprooting problems with the number of high wind-packed thunderstorms that this area sees so much of. We will be discussing the weather effects on the Topeka trees later on, but trees that have been uprooted from storms rank among the highest when it comes to trees lost on an annual basis in Topeka, Kansas
Topeka also has issues with the other types of problems of disease that affect most major metropolitan areas. Things like:
- Invasive Insect Infestation:Those nasty little aphids and borers; one will attack the leaves of a tree, while the other will attack the trunk and limbs. If left unattended, these two can devour a number of trees within a season; spring and summer being the worst. Trees that have been improperly pruned or lost large limbs right at the trunk connection are big invitations to these insects. If you have a tree on your property that needs to be pruned, do some research and make sure you do it properly. If your tree has lost limbs, do the same to protect its vulnerability to insects.
- Blight and Wilt: These fungi will attack the leaves of a tree and appear as burned spots on the leaves for blight, and powdery white or mildew-type stains on leaves if wilt. These are treatable fungi if you can catch them in time. Your local county extension office or the City’s Forestry Division can steer your trees towards health.
- Damage by Humans: Have you ever seen a tree with an unsightly bulge in its trunk right at ground level? That is where the tree has been injured from a string trimmer that has gotten a bit close and scuffed the bark. Eventually, this injury will encircle the trunk, closing its ability to properly transfer any nutrients from the roots through the trunk. This spot on the trunk is essentially in shock, and all efforts are focused towards its healing instead of the rest of the tree. Be careful when trimming the grass at the base of any tree.
These are just a few of the issues that face our Topeka trees. While there are trees that are lost or injured or diseased from other incidents, these are the most general and most common. Now let’s look at the City of Topeka’s Tree Ordinance Laws and how they might affect you and your Topeka tree.
Does the City of Topeka Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
The Forestry Division of The Public Works Office in Topeka maintains all trees and shrubs on the public right-of-way in the greater Topeka area. It is in their offices where all the scheduling for tree limb and brush service takes place. If you have a tree or shrub that needs attention, call their offices at 785-368-3111 Monday through Friday from 8 am till 3 pm. If you have an after-hours emergency that requires the office, report the problem to the Topeka Police Department, and they will contact the Forestry Office personnel on your behalf.
This same office will also provide regularly scheduled tree limb and brush pick-up service throughout the week, and if your tree limbs and brush can wait until your scheduled pickup day, they will be addressed then. It is also the duty of this same office to patrol the streets of Topeka after any significant storm has come through the area to keep tree limbs and debris cleaned up. If you have had tree limbs or debris deposited in your yard, call the office at the above number to report your problem.
Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal in Topeka?
It is a question that is as old as time itself: “Who is responsible for this tree?” It is also one of the issues that were settled by The Supreme Court of The State of Kansas back in 1984.
While the transcript of that case is simply too long to post here, we are going to hit the highlights from the case of Sipe v. City of Topeka circa 1984.
In June 1981, Lyle and Betty Sipe returned home from an overnight camping trip and parked their 5 week-old Chevy Chevette in front of their Topeka home. During the night, a violent storm caused a tree in front of their home to fall on their new car. The tree as it turns out, had been reported to the City Forestry Office and had been ruled as diseased but had not been scheduled for removal yet by the city. The storm destroyed their car, the insurance only gave the Sipes a small amount of the car’s value, the Sipes, therefore, sued the City of Topeka and was awarded an additional $4000 to cover the expense of the new Chevette (1981 the average cost of that particular automobile was under 5000 dollars!)
The Supreme Court of The State of Kansas overturnedits original ruling saying that the City of Topeka should have not been held responsible for the act of nature, the city employee would not be held responsible because he had actually done his job, and that the storm just helped remove the tree that was going to be removed anyway. The Sipes received enough money to buy a new car. Even though the decision was overturned 4 years later, the Sipes did not have to repay the money originally awarded by the court.
This tree on the car issue was backed up in the court system for 3 years, costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars for the Supreme Court to say nobody is at fault. It was a dead tree that was coming down anyway, and it hit a car that should have been covered by insurance but wasn’t entirely. Case closed.
This was not the first time that a tree issue had gone to a state’s Supreme Court, and probably won’t be the last. Kansas laws are as clear as… mud. If it’s on your property it’s your tree. If your tree grows over onto your neighbor’s property, he or she has the right without asking you to trim the branches or the roots that are on their property. Here is where it goes a bit awry. If those branches or roots cause the tree to die and the tree falls and causes damage to your property, you can sue the neighbor for damages. Even though it’s your tree on your property, if it falls and damages something of yours and is a direct result of the neighbor that trimmed it, you can be awarded damages from that neighbor! This is where it might just be in your best interest to brush up on Kansas law regarding the issue.
If you’re a homeowner?
If you are a homeowner, then you probably already do a pretty good job of taking your tree and shrub issues to heart. Just be aware of those quirky laws if the tree you trim isn’t trimmed right and dies.
If you’re a renter?
If you rent a home, here’s a good rule to live by. Decide before you rent the home what the policy and procedure are going to be on trimming or removing trees, then adhere to that policy. Come to an agreement with both your landlord and your neighbors before you inadvertently trim a tree and kill it.
If you’re a landlord?
Adopt your own policy about this issue and have it included with your lease. If you already have a renter in place, come up with an addendum to the lease and put that in with the existing lease.
If you’re a neighbor?
The best rule of thumb for the greater Topeka area–or anywhere in Kansas for that matter–learn to love that tree and don’t touch it! You may be liable for removal costs if you over-trim your neighbors tree and kill it.
How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Topeka?
We mentioned early in this guide that the name Topeka came from a term meaning ‘easy to dig’. Easy to dig doesn’t translate back to ‘good for trees’. The usual problems with soils are compaction and expansion problems. It seems the soil in Topeka doesn’t suffer from any compaction. However, the expansion issue is still present and is made worse because there is no soil compaction. Any rain that comes to Topeka drains pretty fast as the mighty Mississippi runs right through the edge of town, so all that tends to make the soil erode quickly. Loosely eroding soils don’t bode well for the roots of anything, particularly trees.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Topeka?
Weather plays a huge role in the health of Kansas trees in general. It seems that every part of Kansas is in the direct path of tornadoes during the spring and summer and heavy thunderstorms throughout the rest of the year. Topeka is one of those towns where there are scars to prove it. On June 8, 1966, one of the first-ever recorded F5 tornadoes leveled Topeka Kansas. There wasn’t much of anything left standing, and that definitely included trees. Many residents of that time were persistently saying that the tornado ripped the top layer of soil right off of Topeka, and it never grew back. Perhaps that is why the soil is so loose around the area, and trees need stable weather and firm soil to thrive.
What If Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Topeka?
Need to report a dead or downed tree on a Topeka power line? Contact the Public Works Office of Forestry, and they will tend to the matter as soon as possible. If it is after regular office hours, contact the Topeka Police Department, and they will notify the proper authorities for tree removal. The number for the Topeka Police Department is the same at 785-368-3111.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Topeka?
And finally, we get to the money side of things! The way we are going to post this information is a lot simpler than the laws! We will post for you the average cost of tree removal in Topeka.
- Average low cost of tree removal in Topeka, KS: $530
- Average high cost of tree removal in Topeka, KS: $721 or more
- Average price paid for tree removal in Topeka, KS: $625
Those figures above include:
- Labor Cost
- Site prep and clean up
Those figures do not include:
- Tree removal permits
- Material/supplies Kansas state sales taxes
- Material/supplies Topeka local sales taxes
Now, let’s look at three different contributing factors that could cause your Topeka tree removal project to be a bit higher or possibly lower depending on the circumstances.
Those figures above were for a medium-sized tree that was under 40 feet tall. If you have one of those colossal 80-foot tall oaks, you might want to be prepared to pay upward of $1,500 when the final bill comes for that tree removal!
Demolition or Reconstruction?
Hopefully, the tree has come down without leaving anything in its wake. If not, there may be charges for damages to your or other people’s property. Hopefully, all you are going to be paying for is the tree, not any homes or cars!
Is the Tree Already Down?
If the tree has already fallen, all you really need is a tree clean-up. This could make your final bill a bit less than was anticipated. Good news for you!