The City values attractive, clean streets with healthy trees. Recently, we contacted specific neighborhoods reminding residents to prune street trees ahead of pavement preservation work to allow equipment to pass through without hitting or breaking branches. The message was oversimplified and lacked guidance on how to prune for proper tree health.
Overgrown trees with branches that hang low over streets and sidewalks endanger pedestrians, inhibit visibility, and block essential street maintenance vehicles, such as street sweepers, from adequately covering the street. To ensure safe passage, tree limbs must hang no lower than 7.5 feet above the sidewalk and 12 feet above street – but this high clearance is not one-size fits all.
- Pruning should balance providing clearance with maintaining a healthy tree. Never remove more than 25% of live foliage from any tree.
- Limbs that only hang over the planting strip may be lower than the required clearance for sidewalks and streets. The trees planted along the right of way have been specifically chosen due to their columnar nature, encourage this shape through pruning for a healthy, robust tree.
- Ideally, tree pruning should be completed in the fall and winter. However, minor pruning may be necessary in the summer to keep clearance levels. Broken and dead branches should be pruned any time they appear.
We are working to update the city code and develop additional guidelines for homeowners, HOA’s and businesses responsible for maintaining street trees. Until then, please consider the points above and contact an arborist if you are uncertain.
Please see the visuals below for clarification. A Street Tree permit is required for major pruning or removal of street trees.