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Tree Frequently Asked Questions
Who is responsible when tree roots grow into my sewer pipe?
Property owners are responsible for the section of sewer pipe that is located on their property. The City’s Department of Public Works is responsible for the sewer pipe located within the right-of-way. The City will not remove trees due to sewer blockages. Tree roots only invade pipes that are flawed due to settlement, poor installation or age. Removing a tree will not repair a flawed pipe.

What can be done about surface roots?
Surface roots can become a problem in older trees, making it difficult to cut grass. Roots should not be cut in this situation because this injures the tree and creates an avenue for decay. It is better to apply a layer of mulch. If mulch is not practical, cover the roots with a small amount of quality top soil and reseed the area.

How do I report felled trees or branches?
To report a felled tree or downed or hanging branches, call the City at 240-314-8700. If a tree or branch has caused electric utility wires to come down, call Pepco's 24-hour emergency line at 202-872-3432.

Who do I call when a tree or branch is on my electric line?
You should call Pepco for branches that are affecting your power line at 202-833-7500. City crews are not authorized to perform electric line clearance.

Can I prune the street tree near my home?
Trees within a public right-of-way in the State of Maryland are subject to the provisions of the Maryland Roadside Tree Law. It is illegal for residents to prune or otherwise impact trees within the public right-of-way unless they have acquired a Roadside Tree Permit from the state. The City has a Roadside Tree Blanket Permit  from the state to perform work on street trees. Please contact the City to request pruning.

How do I request maintenance or an inspection of the street tree near my home?
You can report a problem by filling out a Tree Service Request Form or by calling the Parks and Facilities Office at 240-314-8700.

How do I request a new street tree to be planted near my home?
Simply fill out the Tree Service Request Form or call the Parks and Facilities Office at 240-314-8700.

What type of tree is scheduled to be planted near my home?
The City’s Master Street Tree Plan indicates the type of tree to be planted by street and address. Where there are overhead utilities, appropriately sized trees are planted to minimize future conflicts. 

Who do I call if I am concerned about a private tree in my neighbor’s yard that I think may be hazardous and could fall into my property?
First, talk to your neighbor and try to resolve the situation. However, City Code requires that a property owner resolve situations that threaten public safety. If a tree or branch is determined to be hazardous and could potentially harm adjoining property, the Code Enforcement Division can cite the property owner to correct the problem. You may contact Code Enforcement at 240-314-8330.

Do I need permission from the City to remove a tree on my property?
Trees located on individual residential lots that are not located within the Historic District may be removed without permission from the City. However, urban tree canopy is important to the City and residents should consider the environmental benefits that trees provide before removing healthy trees from their property. You should also check with your HOA to determine if there are other restrictions for tree removal. Significant trees (12 inches in diameter and greater) that are located on HOA common ground or on commercial property cannot be removed without a permit issued by the City Forester. You can apply for a significant tree removal permit if a tree does need to be removed.

Why prune trees?
Trees must be pruned in order to maintain their health and improve structural integrity.

Young trees should be pruned, so they develop proper structure to minimize future maintenance. The City also prunes street trees to improve lighting, maintain visibility of street signs and to provide clearance for streets, sidewalks and utilities. City streets are safer and more attractive when they are well lit and lined by healthy trees.

Neglected trees can quickly become a nuisance and pose a danger to the public. Pepco routinely performs electric line clearance within the City to minimize power disruptions during storms . City crews are not authorized to perform electric line clearance.

Residents are encouraged to have their private trees inspected by a certified arborist regularly and have them pruned as necessary.

Why are trees removed?
The City removes trees only when they are dead, diseased or dying and threaten public safety. Occasionally a healthy tree must be removed due to utility conflicts, sight line issues or to implement roadway and pedestrian improvements. The City plants replacement trees after tree removal if it is determined that there is sufficient space for a new tree.