Homeowner Tips

Urban Tree Health and Your Landscape

Tree canopy preservation is a vital component in any urban development strategy. As cities grow, space becomes limited and development tends to reduce the overall canopy coverage.

For this and many other reasons, there are codes and laws in place which protect trees. Each city has its variation of municipal codes and tree ordinances which regulate the removal and planting of trees. They also regulate under which circumstances a tree removal permit will be needed.

Tree removal permit for dead dying and diseased tree

In this article, we will take a look at the differences between public and private trees, when a permit may be required, as well as defining some of the verbiage used when addressing tree health issues.

Public Tree Removal

A public tree is one that is growing on property that is owned or managed by local, state, or federal government

Your city’s land management, arborist, or forestry division more than likely performs routine inspections of the trees on public property. This is done to identify troubled trees and either treat them or remove them. Here’s a firsthand account of the Boulevard Tree removal.

When you spot a tree on public property that is threatening to fall, has become infested, or diseased, contact one of the above mentioned city divisions to report the tree.

Private Tree Removal Permit

A private tree is one that is growing on private residential or commercial property and will more than likely require a permit before removing it.

Some examples of when a permit is necessary are trees located on multifamily properties, industrial, commercial, and mixed-use property.

Heritage and ordinance size trees almost always require a removal permit.

For removing a tree on private property, hiring a tree service to handle both the permit and removal process will simplify everything. You may however, acquire the permit yourself by visiting your city’s website, downloading the permit, collecting the required documentation, and submitting it to the appropriate city department.

Removal permit applications are likely approved when the tree is dead, dying, diseased or has been proven to be a safety hazard. You can read more about tree removal permits in major cities here hsny.org/tree-removal-permits-and-transportation-in-major-cities/.

Interfering or Threatening Trees

Interfering Trees – These trees have grown too close to power lines or are in direct contact with them. When you see a tree like this, stay clear! Trees can become energized and cause severe injury or electrocution.

Contact the local power company. They will likely dispatch their urban development or forestry division to correctly prune, trim, or cut the tree.

Threatening Trees – These trees have lost their stability or balance and are precariously leaning over a street, sidewalk, driveway, or home.

This is a situation in which emergency tree removal may occur without a permit. However, photographs, videos, and affidavits may be required afterward to justify the removal. Seek the assistance of a professional tree removal company in such a case.

Dead, Dying, Infested, or Diseased Trees

“What is happening to that tree? It doesn’t look healthy.” We’ve all seen trees that look like they are struggling to survive. The following will help to identify what is happening when a tree’s health is in decline:

Diseased Trees – Throughout the life of a tree, it may suffer harsh winters, extreme weather conditions, drought, land disturbances, or even bad pruning jobs. All of these will compromise the tree’s ability to fight off disease.

Fungi growing on trunk of diseased tree

Look For: discoloration or wilting of the leaves, dieback, or fungi (mushrooms) growing on the trunk.

Once blight, wilt, or other biological pathogens make a tree its host, the tree will begin to show signs of disease often when it is already too late to save it.

Infested Trees – Infestations occur when insects target a tree, multiply and begin to cause damage to the leaves and stems. Or worse, when they bore into the tree feeding on the inner bark.

Look For: Insect grouping or colonies along branches and stems or under leaves. For boring insects like beetles, look for round holes in the bark or “sawdust” from their digging.

Once the larvae of boring insects are inside a tree, they are no longer vulnerable to insecticide treatments and sprays. Detection of this type of infestation is typically only visible after severe damage to the tree has occurred.

Dying and Dead Trees – There are many reasons that trees die. If not from disease or infestation, prolonged drought or old age may be the culprit. Like all other plant and animal life, trees have a lifecycle in which they sprout, grow, age, wither, and eventually die.

Look For: Browning of evergreens, dieback or excessive loss of foliage. For deciduous trees, a premature loss of foliage, dieback, or a delayed exit from dormancy may spell trouble and should be professionally evaluated.

Both evergreen and deciduous trees will show clear signs of decline. When they do, call in a professional tree service to help ascertain the right diagnosis and treatment if possible.

Watch this video for more on identifying common tree problems:

Tree Removal and Replanting

In many cities, after the removal of a tree, you will be required to plant a specific species or certain number of trees to replace it.

Note that under some circumstances, tree removal may be prohibited altogether. Vegetated stream buffers, trees growing on slopes, highway or roadway barriers are all examples of situations where state or federal agencies regulate and maintain such trees for the health of the environment.

As mentioned before, hiring a professional tree service will help remove all doubt from the initial requirements of a tree removal permit, through the removal and disposal of the tree.