Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

A Permit to Cut Down a Dead Tree?

20150108As strange as it may seem, in many North American cities, you need a permit to cut down a dead tree. Why? No one knows… but you need to get that permit, otherwise you may have to pay a hefty fine (200$ in my town)! I know this because I was visited by the local police a few years back after a dead tree (unfortunately with a charming young family of woodpeckers inside) came down in my back yard. I talked my way out of the fine on the grounds that I didn’t cut the tree down, it fell on its own. And even a cursory glance at the stump proved that my chain saw had never touched it. (I still wonder how in the world the police knew I was chopping up a tree in the privacy of my own back yard, but that’s another story…)
But supposing the tree is still alive? Egads! Do you honestly think you can cut down a live tree in a city? You’ll obviously need a permit, but it is unlikely the town will give you a permit to cut down a healthy tree without what it deems is a valid reason. Again, you expose yourself to a hefty fine if you do it anyway! My suggestion? Check with your town before you even think of cutting down a tree!

(In my town, the definition of a tree was one that was 1 foot (30 cm) in diameter at chest height, so I could theoretically have cut down a small dead tree without a permit… but I suggest you contact your municipality before you cut down a tree of any size, alive or dead, just in case!)

Ah, for the simple life of the country where I could cut down a whole forest and no one would care (only kidding!).

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “A Permit to Cut Down a Dead Tree?

  1. Of course you need a permit, how else would they tax you? 😉

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