7 City Regulations to Follow When you Own Several Trees

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For any property, trees add value and curb appeal. Because they offer shade in the summer, they also offer a certain economic savings since air-conditioning costs will be lower. However, trees often overhang neighboring properties, and over time, they can grow close to wires, shutters, and fences. Anyone buying a house for the first time or needing to know the liability factors involving trees needs to consider the many code regulations regarding the upkeep of healthy trees or removal of sick trees.

Trees Blocking Sunlight of Neighbours

Some countries are having very effective rules and regulations for tree plantation when it comes to providing residential comfort to its residents. If your trees are blocking your neighbour’s sunlight you might not be permitted to keep them intact even if they are in your premises. You can opt for tree pruning and maintenance service Des Moines if living in Lowa to avoid such discrepancies. You can plant ornamental trees which do not grow beyond a certain height above your boundary wall and helpful to purify your air as well. Such trees will not block the sunlight of your neighbourhood and you will be able to abide by the tree plantation rules of your country also.

7 city regulations to follow when you own several trees


1. Tree type

New-construction contractors often clear-cuts property then replants trees in a more landscaped, organized fashion. Additionally, if a homeowner wants to add trees, they typically shop for trees according to the property’s temperature and sunlight zone.

However, many jurisdictions only allow certain types of trees to be planted. Contractors might know this and plant only a certain type of tree, like pine.

However, home owners want more choice than this, so it is important to research the city’s regulation on permitted trees. Permitted small trees are often limited to the following.

– Apricot
– Hawthorne
– Plum
– Peach
– Redbud
– Soapberry

Medium trees often include hackberry, oak, pecan, or poplar. Large trees can be limited to oak, sycamore, maple, and cottonwood.

2. Landscaping

Many cities do not necessarily require you to weed around the tree. However, some ordinances do require that underbrush be kept to a height of no more than 18 inches.

Additionally, the underbrush sometimes cannot be comprised of more than two unidentifiable varieties, and if anyone complains that it looks like brush or weeds, regardless of the variety, the city can have you cut it down. Although the landscaping regulations can seem intricate and overly detailed, underbrush represents a fire hazard and maintaining it is one of the only ways to keep bushes from serving as kindling.

3. Sick or dead trees

Dead trees must be removed. If they are not removed, a city can order a property owner to remove the tree. If the tree is not removed, the city can send workers out to remove the tree. These decisions to enforce these regulations are a matter of safety, and usually, they cannot be appealed.


Depending on the city, stumps might be prohibited. In these situations, it will be necessary for the stump to be cut level with the ground. However, some ordinances do not allow stumps of any sort. In these cases, the stump must be ground such that it is removed or below ground level.

4. Utilities

Of course, tree ordinances cover what is above ground, but liability for roots is also a concern for property owners. For instance, trees typically must not be planted within five feet in any sideways direction of any underground gas line, water line, or electric line. Prior to planting a tree, it is, of course, required that the homeowner contact utility companies and request a survey. The utility companies will then come to the property and mark on the grass the layout of the underground utility lines.

5. Distance and spacing

Distance to sidewalks and corners

One of the easiest things to anticipate is that as a tree grows, it will slowly disrupt anything near it. The steady growth of solid wood roots will press in a wall or lift up a sidewalk. However, ordinances exist because people regularly underestimate the future size and length of a tree’s roots. As a result, it is common practice to restrict trees being planted within six to eight feet of a street corner or sidewalk. Additionally, in terms of tree overhang, it is a common requirement that branches be kept eight feet above a sidewalk or street corner.

Distance between one another

Trees too close together might provide a lot of shade, but that shade will kill other trees that require light. Additionally, too much shade can result in dead patches of lawn. Finally, intertwined trees allow fires to more easily cross from one tree to another. Consequently, many ordinances require trees to be planted at least 30 feet apart. Doing so helps maintain adequate amounts of light that contribute to property value and fire safety.

First responders

When it comes to trees, clear access to fire hydrants is a primary concern for first responders. Usually trees must be no closer than eight feet. Additionally, in emergencies, ordinances allow fire fighters the right to level a tree if it poses a fire danger.

6. Pruning

Healthy trees require annual tree pruning and trimming services. Without proper pruning, too many young tendrils will starve the healthy growth of larger, lower branches. The result can lead to a patchy tree with dead portions.


Regardless of whether a local tree-trimming company trims the trees or whether the city workers trim them, it is often illegal in many cities to top a tree. Topping is the practice of cutting away nearly all the top branches and leaves, leaving only exposed stubs of the remaining branches. This practice results in clear wires, but it also reduces property values throughout a neighborhood, and it can eventually result in dead trees, requiring further work.

Proximity to power lines

Additionally, trees that approach power lines must also be trimmed. City regulations often require an owner to care for a tree by hiring insured arborists. However, if a homeowner does not maintain a tree, the city has the right to trim a tree, often however it likes. City workers often are not much concerned about the aesthetics of a tree, so proactive action by a homeowner is the preferred route. However, for the best appearance, it is best to hire an arborist knowledgeable about city regulations.

7. Interference

Most tree ordinances have to do with the trees. However, since trees can evoke a lot of emotion in homeowners, an important ordinance has to do with interference. Nearly all city regulations prohibit interference of the homeowner with city workers. Such interference can result in a fine.


Fines from $100 to $1,000 can be assessed for failing to upkeep a tree. However, if failure to maintain a tree results in personal damage, the liability can be even worse, ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

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