Tree Maintenance and Abuse

Tree Maintenance

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of trees on their property and adjacent swales. Property owner shall utilize tree installation and maintenance practices that follow guidelines set in The Florida Friendly Landscaping Program; such as staking, palm pruning and tress shaping. Any person, company, partnership, corporation, or service that administers tree maintenance practices within the City shall adhere to all American National Standards Institute (ANSI) practices found under A300 and Z133. 

Tree Maintenance Companies

Property owners should confirm that companies that are trimming trees proper credentials and insurance. Any person, firm, corporation or other entity engaged in the business of tree maintenance or soliciting property owners for tree maintenance within the City must have City local business tax receipt (LBTR). Trimmers must be either a current International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist or a current Class A or B Tree Trimmer (Broward County License). 

Tree Abuse

Tree abuse is a violation under City code.  Tree abuse or improper tree maintenance is specifically addressed in the City's Land Development Code under section (§ 155.672).  Any person, company, partnership, corporation, or service that administers tree maintenance practices within the City that does not adhere to all American National Standards Institute (ANSI) practices found under A300 has committed tree abuse.  Property owners are responsible for any person that performs tree abuse and shall be responsible for remedial measures and/or fines for trees abused on their property. Remedial measures may include but not limited to any or a combination of the following actions: no action for a prescribed time, corrective pruning to improve the health and form of affected trees, probationary period under a pruning plan developed by a ISA Certified Arborist, or tree removal if the natural habit of the tree has been destroyed and cannot be corrected.

Common tree abuse practices include but are not limited to the following:

  • Hat-racking defined as indiscriminate cutting of branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role.
  • Shaping defined as topiary pruning of Category I, II, and III trees without prior City approval.
  • Destruction of a tree's natural habit of growth.
  • Removing over 25% of the tree's canopy at one pruning event.
  • Over thinning of interior canopy.
  • Over lifting of lower canopy.
  • Use of climbing spikes, nails, or hooks into a tree except for the purposes of total tree removal or any action specifically permitted by standards set by ANSI A300 or Z133.
  • Bark removal.
  • Excessive root pruning as determined by an ISA Certified Arborist
  • Forms of Tree abuse: Hatracking, Topping, Over-Lifting, Lion-Tailing, Lollipop Cuts, Topiary Cuts, Hurricane Cut

Hurricane-Related Tree Care

What many refer to as “hurricane pruning” is a scam and a form of tree abuse. Hurricane pruning generally refers to topping, or hat-racking a tree. Hat-racking is a practice in which the top of the tree, known as the canopy, is removed, leaving vital, major branches chopped off with stubs exposed. This type of pruning results in heavy re-growth of weakly attached sprouts and actually makes the tree more prone to wind damage than an un-pruned tree! A majority of the trees that fail during a storm are ones that have been improperly pruned. Over-lifting is another type of improper pruning where the lower half of the canopy is removed. This type of pruning makes the tree more likely to break or topple over. 

  • Tree trimmers often take advantage of homeowners by using scare tactics, under the guise of “hurricane pruning”. They have been known to top trees and leave the homeowners with no identifying information, and unfortunately, the property owner is left with the liability of a structurally unsound tree.
  • Residents and Businesses are asked to avoid performing significant vegetative cutting when there is an approaching tropical system. Debris not collected can cause damage if it becomes airborne, and it can also block drainage catch basins and cause flooding.
  • Once a hurricane warning has been issued, collection service will be suspended. DO NOT place any vegetation at the curb, even if it is your regular pick-up day, as any remaining debris has the potential to cause considerable damage to person or property.
  • After the storm, separate the tree debris from roofing materials, metal, etc., as tree debris will be first to be picked up by the private contractors. You will be responsible for any material left at the curb.