St. Louis, MO Tree Ordinances
Many St. Louis residents are not familiar with the rules and regulations that govern trees in the city.
This is a synopsis of some of the relevant sections of City Code Chapter 22:48 Division of Forestry. A complete copy is available from the Registrar’s Office at City Hall.
Street Tree Ownership
Street trees are planted in the “tree lawn,” the city right-of-way along public streets in the area usually between the sidewalk and the curb. Trees planted in the tree lawn are public property and are maintained by the city.
Permits Required For Planting, Maintenance and Removal of Street Trees
City Code 22:48.060 reads: “Except upon written permission by the Commissioner of Forestry, no person shall himself or by another, plant or set any tree or shrub in any street or pull up, cut down, burn, destroy, remove or in any way, manner interfere or tamper with a tree or shrub located in any public street of the city. The Commissioner of Forestry shall have full power and authority to determine the variety of any tree to be planted under the terms of this section....”
The Forestry Division plants street trees free of charge. The Forestry Division also performs street tree maintenance at no charge to the adjoining property owners. If you would like to plant a tree or do maintenance on one, call the Forestry Division at 613-7200 and request a permit application. Permits are issued free of charge at the discretion of the Forestry Commissioner.
City Code 22:48.120 reads: “In the erection or repair of any building or structure, the owner thereof shall place or cause to be placed guards around all nearby trees in the street as shall effectively prevent injury to them.”
Private Tree Maintenance
Property owners are required to maintain trees located on their property as to prevent the following:
- The blocking of light from street lights.
- The maintaining of branch clearances of 8 feet over sidewalks and 10 feet above streets.
- The removal of all hazard tree branches that overhang any street or public place and the removal of dead trees that threaten streets and sidewalks.
City Code 22:48.185: “The Commissioner of Forestry is authorized to order the removal or pruning of any dead, defective or decayed tree, which is located within the City of St. Louis. The owner of a lot or parcel of land upon which a dead, defective or decayed tree is found and fails to comply with an order of the Commissioner of Forestry to remove or prune such tree within 30 days of the notice ordering such removal shall be deemed in violation of this section.
The Forestry Commissioner is authorized to enter upon any lot or parcel of land within the City of St. Louis to remove or treat a dead, defective or decayed or diseased tree if the owner of such lot fails to comply.
The Commissioner of Forestry shall bill the owner of any lot or parcel of land on which the city removes, treats a dead, defective or decayed or diseased tree."
City Code 22:48.070 reads: “No person shall permit any toxic chemical or other such injurious substances to seep, drain or be emptied on or about any tree in the streets of the city.”
Attaching Items To Street Trees
City Code 22:48.100 reads: “No person shall attach or place any rope, wire, sign, poster, handbill or other thing on any tree or shrub...growing in any street or public highway of the City, nor on any guard of such tree.”