Frequently Asked Questions About Tree Care & Removal In Portland

Tree Removal

How much does it cost to remove a tree in Portland?

Variables, such as equipment access, hazard level, and terrain factor into the tree removal cost. In some cases, we can offer a ballpark cost based on a photo of the tree and the surrounding areas. You are welcome to text or email photos to us with your project plans and we will try to reply with a guesstimate. The best way to get a precise cost breakdown is to schedule a free on-site estimate appointment with an arborist.

Do I need a permit to cut down a tree?

Maybe. Local city/county jurisdictions follow different tree removal codes. In the City of Portland, for example, generally any tree on private property 12” DBH (Diameter at Breast Height, measured at 4.5’ from the ground) or larger requires a permit. If your property contains special zoning such as Environmental Overlays, private property trees require a permit starting at 6” DBH within those mapped areas. Street trees (trees on the right-of-way) require a permit regardless of size. We’re happy to help you determine if a permit is required.

Where do I get a tree removal permit in Portland, Oregon?

City of Portland tree removal permits can be applied for online, by mail or in person. Other jurisdictions have their own regulations, however, and we recommend looking up the tree code and permit process for your area if you plan to apply yourself. The friendly folks at Urban Timber will apply on your behalf for a small fee. We apply for many permits over many jurisdictions – we’re experts at permits!

Do I need to replace a tree cut down in Portland, Oregon?

All tree removal permits in the City of Portland require a replacement tree (aka mitigation tree) planted for each regulated tree removed. For residential properties, a private property replacement tree must meet some basic requirements, such as: non-invasive species, single stem at 1.5” caliper minimum (caliper is the trunk diameter measured at 6” from the ground) and grow to a minimum of 16’ height at maturity (common exclusions not considered “trees” for replacement purposes: Arborvitae, Vine Maple, and dwarf varieties of Japanese Maple). When replacing a street tree (tree on the right-of-way), the City of Portland requires the selection of a tree only from the Approved Street Tree Planting List, which is based on the width of the planting strip and the presence of any overhead power lines. City of Portland links:  private property trees and street trees. Other jurisdictions outside of the City of Portland have varying replacement tree planting criteria.

What should I do if a tree falls on my property?

Use good judgment and remember to consider safety first. An uprooted or broken tree can be very dangerous and unpredictable. If you think you may be in over your head, call an arborist. We at Urban Timber offer 24-hour emergency service and we have the training, equipment, and expertise required. As the first step, we recommend safely taking several photos from several angles. You may get faster assistance by sharing the photos with an arborist and, depending on the situation, you may need the pictures for insurance purposes.

Can a large tree be relocated?

Anything is possible, but is it affordable? Large trees come with large root systems. To move a large tree, you need heavy equipment that is not gentle on the landscape and is very costly. Some smaller trees can be more easily relocated. Because specific tools are required for relocating trees, we recommend contacting a landscaper or a specialist for this delicate endeavor.

Tree Planting

What time of year should fruit trees be planted?

Fall and spring are the best times to plant.

Should I plant native trees in my yard?

Native trees fit very well into our ecosystem. However, so do many non-native, non-invasive species. There have been non-native species in Portland for hundreds of years and they can add just as much beauty and habitat as the locals.

What kind of trees are good to plant in Portland?

There are very few trees that don’t do well in our climate. When choosing the right tree for you and your space, here are a few factors to consider: space, ground structures, mess, competing plants/trees nearby, and preference. We personally prefer evergreen because they produce oxygen year-round. Native trees will clearly do well in the area and here is a list of some of Portland’s native trees.

Tree Trimming - Pruning

Why should I get my trees trimmed?

The main reasons to prune your trees are for health, hazard mitigation, structure clearance, and aesthetics.

Can I trim a neighbor’s tree that is hanging over my property?

Any portion of a tree that is growing over your property is your property, even if the trunk of the tree begins in a neighboring yard. That does not mean that you can sheer all branches at the property line. Legally, you cannot prune more than 25% of the overall canopy and proper pruning cuts should be made. We find it’s best to include the neighbor in the plan and to get them on board with the proposed work, especially because an arborist’s work may include requiring access to the neighbor’s property to safely remove limbs growing over your yard.

Does annual pruning make my trees live longer?

Pruning your trees regularly is a great way to ensure a long, safe relationship with your tree. However, over-pruning your trees will only result in rapid regrowth. We find that bi-annual pruning is usually best.

How do I know when my trees need to be trimmed?

If you are unsure when last your trees have been pruned, it is a good idea to have an arborist out to do an inspection. Other hints that your tree may need attention is finding an abundance of dead branches in the canopy, finding that the tree is dropping an abnormal number of limbs, noticing cracks in the trunk/branches, or if you see limbs that are crossing and rubbing. Other signs may be lots of sucker growth, which is a tree’s attempt to grow more branches as a response to stress. Another time to prune could be for structure clearance; if the canopy is encroaching on your property or living space it could be a good time to prune it back.

What time of year should fruit trees be pruned?

Fruit trees should be pruned in the winter when the tree is dormant, ideally during December-February before the tree begins to bud again.

Tree Care & Health

How should I care for older trees?

Established trees will typically need less health and structural pruning. Hazards caused by rot, defect, or canopy expansion are common in older trees and need to be mitigated. Old trees need water, too. In our rapidly changing climate, trees have been introduced to a host of new problems, with drought stress being the #1 issue. In long periods without rain, it is very important to water the outer root system known as the drip line (the area under the edge of the canopy).

How should I care for a newly planted tree?

Lots of water. Young trees need a lot of water to establish a strong root system. Beyond that, 2” of mulch over the roots will give the tree vital nutrients. And structure pruning in the first 10 years of a tree’s life will eliminate structural issues that could shorten a tree’s life span or make it hazardous in the future.

How do I get my tree's health assessed?

Time to call an arborist. We will provide a general health assessment and make recommendations for care based on the current condition of the tree. The best way to get a full review of health is to hire an arborist to prune the tree. Many times, we can spot trouble from the ground but there is a lot more to learn about the tree from climbing the canopy.