Tree Maintenance & Conservation
more trees, please
Trees and greenspace are an important part of St. Pete's built and natural environment. They promote social, economic, and environmental health by capturing and slowing rain, filtering air pollution, providing shade and healthier environments, providing food and habitat to local flora and fauna, and contributing to the character and aesthetic beauty of the city’s neighborhoods and business districts.
The City of St. Petersburg has been awarded the Tree City USA award for 35 consecutive years, from 1986 to 2020.
In addition to assisting with proper planting, maintenance, and removal of trees on both private and public property, the City of St. Petersburg also focuses on the big picture with city-wide canopy studies and policies for conservation and green infrastructure.
Guidelines for Tree Maintenance & Removal
The City is committed to protecting, promoting, and maintaining a healthy, diverse, and mature urban forest, which includes trees that reside on residential property. Before doing any work on or around trees, property owners should ask an arborist or contact the City to make sure they comply with local regulations.
In some cases, a tree must be removed due to its health or safety implications. If this is the case, a tree removal permit must be obtained from the City. If residents are doing tree maintenance that does not require a permit, they can take advantage of the City’s brush drop-off sites to properly dispose of trimmings and yard debris.
Find an Arborist
The City provides low cost Certified Arborist services to residents through an on-staff ISA Certified Arborist who will conduct required tree inspections. Identified non-hazardous trees located on residential property and all trees located on commercial property will continue to follow existing ordinances 16.40.060, LDC.
Request an Inspection or Permit
Tree Removal Applications can be submitted, tracked, and paid online through the Building Permit Portal or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The application is entered into the City’s permit database and staff endeavors to inspect the tree within 2 business days after the $25 initial inspection fee has been paid. Once the inspection has been approved by the City arborist and the permit fee has been paid, the tree removal permit is required to be posted in a manner that is clearly visible from the street. Tree Removal Permits are valid for 6-months. Further questions or concerns can be addressed by phone at 727-893-4249.
Protected, Grand, and Signature Trees
If there are Protected, Grand, or Signature trees within 15 feet of the proposed construction, on the property, or on adjacent property, then the trees need to be shown on the site plan, by size and species. If tree removal is proposed, or a Grand tree requires trimming of a branch 8” in diameter or greater, a permit will be required. View the Protected, Grand, and Signature Tree Informational Handout.
- Protected: Any shade tree 4” or larger diameter at breast height (DBH, as measured 4 ½ feet above ground); any understory tree which is 8” or larger DBH.
- Grand: Any code protected tree which is 30 inches in diameter DBH or larger, except for Laurel Oaks. Grand Trees are afforded a higher level of protection and need to be preserved.
- Signature: This is a category of non-native trees which due to the size, prevalence, and history in the local community warrant recognition and protection. This includes Banyan trees, Kapok trees that are 30” or larger DBH, and Jacaranda trees and Royal Poinciana trees that are 8” or larger DBH.
Tree Canopy & Conservation
Maintaining a healthy urban forest provides a variety of long-term benefits to St. Pete, including environmental enhancements, economic savings, climate resilience, neighborhood character, and wildlife habitat. The City is working on an urban tree canopy assessment to help the City to prioritize planting areas, project long-term goals and needs, and strengthen stewardship and conservation efforts.