Resources and regulation information for trees in Hillsborough County

Trees are a vital part of the ecosystem in Hillsborough County. The Natural Resources Division administers the regulations for trees and their removal. If you can’t find the answer to your tree-related question in the information below, please submit a natural resources inquiry

Removing trees

Generally, a permit is required to remove a tree.

If you plan to clear land to construct a home, all tree removal, lot grading, and land alterations will require a Land Alteration and Landscaping (LAL) permit.

  • You will apply for this permit at the same time you submit your application for a building permit. You can't clear your property prior to applying and securing an LAL permit for residential properties. 
  • Commercial or subdivision properties must receive a natural resource permit from site & subdivision development prior to clearing a site

If you suspect a tree has been removed or pruned improperly, you may conduct a search for a permit using the property address on the HillsGovHub portal (no account needed). You may also report a natural resources violation online.

A webinar about residential tree removal in Hillsborough County is also available. 

Lot trees and street trees

Many homes have lot tree and/or street tree requirements as specified in the Land Development Code.

  • A Lot Tree is generally a shade tree and/or combination of a shade tree/ornamental tree(s). The LDC lists the typical requirements, however, many factors determine the exact requirements of your lot.
  • A Street Tree is usually located along a road or in the grassy space between the sidewalk and the street. It is referred to as “a street tree” because that portion of the land is not actually owned by the lot owner, but is owned either by the County or another private property owner like a Community Development District (CDD) or Homeowner Association (HOA). It is usually the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain their street tree.

To determine the requirements for your home’s lot and street trees, please submit a natural resources inquiry

Tree pruning and trimming

A permit is not required to prune trees. Generally, pruning and trimming should be less than 25% of the canopy. 

  • Improper pruning can result in a violation if it does not meet ANSI 300 Pruning Standards
  • Please review Hillsborough County's Pruning Best Practices prior to pruning a tree to avoid any potential violations and ensure the health of the tree
  • It is also recommended that you consult an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist prior to pruning your trees

If a neighbor’s tree has limbs that encroach into your property, you are permitted to prune the limbs provided the pruning is done properly and would not irreparably harm the tree.

If there is a tree requiring pruning that is maintained by the County, a request may be submitted to the Public Works department.

Dangerous trees

By Florida law, a permit is not required to remove a dangerous tree on residential property if the following criteria are met:

  • Documentation is obtained from an ISA certified arborist or a Florida-licensed landscape architect showing that the tree poses an unacceptable risk to persons or property
  • If removal is the only way to practically mitigate its risk

If you feel that a neighbor’s tree poses a risk as a dangerous tree, you may submit a code violation request to have County staff investigate and make a determination. 

Trees on commercial sites or subdivisions

When a new subdivision or commercial site is proposed, every effort is made to preserve good, healthy, structurally sound trees when possible. A Certified Arborist on staff conducts a field review for each project, grading trees for condition. 

  • In some cases, trees must be removed due to their condition or inability to survive construction required to meet certain building codes
  • Trees over 24” in diameter that are in fair or good condition and are removed will require additional plantings and/or contribution to the tree restoration fund as mitigation

There are also specific requirements for a buffer between uncomplimentary uses, such as a residential neighborhood and an abutting commercial site, in order to maintain the quality of life and protect the health, safety, welfare, and general well-being of the citizens of Hillsborough County.

Tree grants

Our Tree Grant program aims to encourage neighborhood residents to plant trees in community-maintained areas, as well as road right-of-ways, within or adjacent to their neighborhoods. Learn more and apply on the tree grant information page.

Last Modified: 2/1/2024, 9:39:43 PM

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