In many jurisdictions, individual property owners are responsible for private trees. But, individual property owners do not always have full control over those private trees due to city ordinances. Cities all over the country have long-standing local ordinances allowing them the right to inspect any tree. Private or public, as long as a tree is within city boundaries, the ordinance gives the city access for inspection. These inspections can take place at any time (normally notice is given) and can lead to disagreements between the tree owner and city representatives. But in instances when a tree is dead or diseased the tree owner may be unaware that they have a liability standing on their property. A city’s decision to remove a tree is done with thoughtfulness to ensure the community benefits from the beauty of trees while protecting other trees in the area.
While looking out for the well-being of trees, city officials can also deem a tree to be a hazard to people. Hazardous trees and limbs, as well as nuisance trees, may require removal in the interest of public safety. Regardless of the reason for removal the property owner is responsible for removing the tree. Many times this includes all work and costs for removal and proper disposal of trees, stumps, brush, and debris.
Ways to Remove Your Tree
Once a dead, diseased, or hazardous tree has been identified on your property, it will be marked for removal. Every city does this differently as some use paint and some use ribbons. Whatever method is selected, consult with your city to determine their identification procedures and find out why your tree needs to be removed.
After being tagged, there are a few ways to remove your tree:
Hire a Tree Service: This option is the safest, and it is normally the least expensive and recommended by the city. The catch though, you can’t hire just any Tree Service Company. Each city develops a list of tree service contractors that are pre-approved for tree removal services. Sometimes it comes with a recommendation from the city. While other times it is required for residents to select a tree service contractor that is registered with their local city. Cities do this for a variety of reasons but often it is to protect their residents and homeowners by screening these contractors in advance to make sure they carry appropriate levels of liability insurance and have the knowledge and insight to provide proper tree care.
Let the City Hire a Tree Service: At first, this may seem like the easy way, but don’t be fooled. Your city government is not excited about coordinating the removal of hundreds of trees, but if the residents fail to act, this is their way of ensuring the job gets done. And like all city governments, the cost will be passed along to the homeowner. The “assessment” will vary but it can be assumed that the cost to remove the tree, plus an administrative fee, will be invoiced to the homeowner after the work is complete. Typically, if you fail to have your tree(s) removed by a published deadline, your city will make arrangements to have the tree removed on their schedule, but at your expense.
Remove the Tree Yourself: Often the most adventurous option, homeowners can give-it-a-go themselves. Since the homeowner is responsible for removal and disposal of diseased trees, there may be extra requirements that go unaccounted. For example, a diseased tree may have to be debarked if you choose to keep or store wood on your property. There are also requirements to fill in any holes where tree stumps were removed and to cover those areas with sod. These services are often included by tree service contractors. And if you choose to do-it-yourself, keep in mind that the city will typically post a timeframe or deadline for tree removal. Failure to remove your tree by the stated deadline may allow the city to remove it at their discretion as noted above.
What Should You Do If You Suspect a Tree is Dangerous or Diseased?
If you have a tree that may be dangerous or diseased and want to get a jump-start on a diagnosis, consult a tree expert for inspection and examination of the tree. A certified arborist is a great place to start as they have the certifications necessary to provide the best tree care advice. If it is determined to be dangerous or diseased and on your property, take action to correct the problem. If it is a neighbor's tree, talk to the neighbor, and then put your concerns in writing before you take any further steps.
With Emerald Ash Borer, Oak Wilt, and Dutch Elm Disease infecting Minnesota trees, the rate of forced removals by city officials is increasing as these diseases spread and impact many communities. Although these types of trees can be protected by effective management techniques, if the disease is discovered too late after onset, they may have to be removed to protect trees nearby and prevent the continued spread of the disease.
Trees are valuable as they provide beauty and enjoyment to those around them, but they also need care. Whether sick or healthy, Precision Landscape and Tree will provide skilled, expert care and maintenance for all your tree needs. Staffed by a team of certified arborists, we know how to safely handle any type of tree. Contact us today, we are ready to help!