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Tree Questions

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Tree Maintenance

Who maintains public trees?

The Public Works Department, Urban Forestry Services provides maintenance to street trees, parks trees, trees in the public right-of-way, and trees on City property.

How do I report a tree problem, like a fallen branch or fallen tree?

Call or email 311 and a call center agent will process your maintenance request. Please provide the following information:

  • Address
  • Cross Street
  • Telephone number (if you are the property owner or resident

Will the City take care of trees on private property?

No, the City only maintains trees on public property. Tree maintenance for private trees should be provided by trained tree care professionals. When choosing a tree care professional the following should be considered:

  • Membership in professional organization such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).
  • Certification through the ISA’s Certified Arborist or Tree Worker programs.
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Competitive pricing (always get three bids)
  • List of references

What about tree problems that occur after hours or in storms?

Call 311 and a call center agent will process your request. Urban Forestry maintains emergency response crews to clear the right-of-way and remove public tree debris from private property. However, tree emergencies involving private trees are the property owner’s responsibility.

What does the public need to know about the impact a series of storms can have on trees?

  • With strong winds and saturated soil, trees may be vulnerable due to a loss of anchorage. Any "heaving" of soil around the base of a tree should be taken seriously. Report issues with City trees to 311, or contact a qualified arborist if the tree is privately owned.
  • The City’s highest priority is safety and clearing primary access roadways of City and private trees. Debris leftover from a private tree will need to be cleaned up by the homeowner.
  • If an electrical wire comes in contact with a tree, assume it is energized and dangerous. Do not touch the tree or anything in contact with it and call SMUD immediately.

Can I request a tree inspection by a City arborist?

The City will provide tree inspections for City trees and for Heritage Trees when there is a request for a tree pruning or removal permit. Private property trees should be inspected by a certified arborist at the property owners expense. The City Arborist will not inspect trees on private property unless the tree meets heritage criteria.

If the tree roots are the cause of the damaged sidewalk, regardless of whether or not the roots are from a City or a private tree and you have received a notice to repair the sidewalk adjacent to your property, call 311 after the sidewalk has been removed and the roots exposed. A City arborist will come out to make recommendations about the cutting of roots from the tree. Please note: Have the work order/correspondence number available when calling for a root inspection. This number is located on the top right hand corner of the "Agreement To Repair Sidewalks" you received from the City.

If you take it upon your self to repair the sidewalk with out having received a notice to repair the sidewalk from the City, then you must obtain an encroachment permit first before removing the sidewalk. Call 311 to have an arborist come out after you have obtained the permit and have the sidewalk open for inspection.

Tree Pruning

How often are public trees pruned?

The current pruning cycle is approximately every 3 to 5 years, depending on location, species and size. Young trees are pruned annually.

Can trees be pruned upon request (out of cycle)?

Trees are pruned out of cycle only if the tree is impacting private property (building clearance), the right-of-way (road and sidewalk clearance, sign clearance), or if the tree represents a safety hazard.

Can I trim a City Street Tree in front of my property?

You cannot trim a City street tree without a permit. The City will allow you to hire your own licensed contractor. City staff will issue a pruning permit detailing City arborist approved pruning requirements.

What if I think my City tree is too tall and needs to be topped?

Topping of trees, leaving trunks with stubby limbs is wrong, and against City and State policy and is harmful to the tree. It can cause starvation and shock, leave the tree open for insects and disease, foster rapid new growth that forms weak limbs, and can lead to the death of the tree. Under no circumstances should a tree ever be topped.

Who is responsible for trees that are encroaching into the public right-of-way?

The City is responsible for street trees and the property owner is responsible for private trees and shrubs. Call or email 311 if City trees are encroaching into the right-of-way.

Who is responsible if trees are blocking street lights, traffic, and parking signs?

The City is responsible for street trees and the property owner is responsible for private trees and shrubs. Call or email 311 if trees are blocking street lights, traffic, and parking sign. Property owners will be charged if the City prunes private trees that are blocking street lights, traffic, and parking signs.

Tree Removal

How can I get a City street tree removed?

City street trees are protected by City ordinance and are only removed if they are hazardous.

Can I remove trees on my property?

It depends upon the status of the tree. If the tree has a protected status, then a permit is required to remove the tree. Protected trees are defined by Sacramento City Code in Title 12, Chapters 12.56 and 12.64. Review the code and call or email 311, if you are uncertain. Urban Forestry staff can assist you in correctly identifying a protected tree. Trees that are not protected can be removed by the property owner.

How do I apply for a permit to prune or remove?

Visit our Permits page, or call or email 311.

What if I see someone removing or pruning a protected tree?

Immediately call a call center agent at 311. It is a misdemeanor to remove or prune a protected tree without a permit.

Tree Planting

Where can I plant a tree?

The City is responsible for all public tree plantings. Residents can plant trees on private property. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District in partnership with the Sacramento Tree Foundation provides free shade trees. Call 916-924-8733 for more information.

Who decides what kind of tree gets planted in the right-of-way in front of my house?

The City follows the “right tree in the right place” policy for tree plantings. However, the City does so in partnership with residents. Before a new tree is planted, Urban Forestry staff will contact the property owner and offer them a choice of tree species based on growing space, maintenance requirements, and irrigation needs. If the resident does not have a preference, then the City will select the tree species appropriate for the planter space.

Where can I find a list of trees that grow well in this area?

The Sacramento Tree Foundation maintains a list of the trees that grow well in our area on their website. The Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute also maintains a large tree data base. Trees can be researched based on attributes or species. Detailed information about growing rates, size, planter space requirements, and undesirable tendencies are included.