Removing a Tree Legally - Understanding the Tree Removal Process

Arborist pruning tree in yard
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It is very hard to know the legal ramifications surrounding removing a tree, even one you own. Some green communities have very strict laws pertaining to tree removal and are associated with major fines. Some areas, usually rural, have no rules and regulations. There is a massive gray area in-between so find out what your community expects when a tree is removed.

Protective tree ordinances are usually enforced by the city or the county via a council or local board. A hired tree professional will inspect for noncompliance upon complaint but will also council you about the problem tree. This means that if you live within the limits of any city you need to contact your city council members or tree board. If you live in an unincorporated portion of your county you will need to contact your county commissioner's office. You might also check to see if your city is certified under the Tree City USA program.

Reasons for Supporting Tree Removal Legislation:

It is only natural that many tree owners feel some frustration about what they can or can't do with their own personal trees. Atlanta Trees lists some very important reasons for community tree planning and a tree removal process. Here is a list reasons for supporting your local tree protection ordinance:

  1. Regulations protect older, healthy "heritage specimen" trees in the urban forest that have significant historic or aesthetic value.
  2. Regulations require planting and protecting shade trees in a parking lot and street "hot zones".
  3. Regulations protect trees during construction in many communities that promote their urban forest.
  4. Regulations in many urban communities with limited tree numbers require replanting when trees must be cut.
  5. Regulations control set community legislation for "no net loss" of shade trees over time.

Cutting a Tree When There Are Tree Regulations

You now need to contact a community arborist or your urban forester before cutting a tree. They will approve or disapprove your project based on local rules and regs.

Also, you might consider using a professional tree cutter. A reputable commercial arboricultural company will know the local laws and can guide you in taking the next step. Remember, there are times when you should let a professional tree cutter do the job for both your safety and to prevent property damage. You should leave it to a professional when:

  1. A tree is too close to personal property or utility lines.
  2. A tree is very large and tall (over 10 inches in diameter and/or over 20 feet tall).
  3. A tree is undermined by insects and/or disease.
  4. You have to climb a tree to limb or prune.
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Your Citation
Nix, Steve. "Removing a Tree Legally - Understanding the Tree Removal Process." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Nix, Steve. (2023, April 5). Removing a Tree Legally - Understanding the Tree Removal Process. Retrieved from Nix, Steve. "Removing a Tree Legally - Understanding the Tree Removal Process." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).