Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Pinellas County?
- 2 Does Pinellas County Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
- 3 Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal in Pinellas County?
- 4 How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Pinellas County?
- 5 Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Pinellas County?
- 6 What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Pinellas County?
- 7 How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Pinellas County?
What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Pinellas County?
Native trees are a vital asset for the Pinellas County community, and they do much more than beautify our landscapes. One of the most underrated benefits trees provide is that they can intercept an incredible amount of water during tropical storms, up to 4,000 gallons a year for mature pine trees. That means neighborhoods with more trees will tend to have less stormwater runoff and less flooding, which is absolutely priceless during our extra-wet summers.
Trees enrich our environment in countless ways, but there are also situations where they need to be removed, especially structurally compromised trees likely to collapse during extreme weather. Here are some of the typical tree issues that homeowners deal with in Pinellas County.
Pests and Diseases
The humid climate in Pinellas County is great for growing lush tropical trees, but it’s also an inviting environment for many pests and diseases that can harm them. “Pinellas” is the Spanish word for “pine trees”, and we have plenty of them throughout the county. Our native pine trees are susceptible to a disease called fusiform rust, which can stunt their growth, deform them, or even kill them.
One of the most destructive tree diseases in recent years has been Laurel Wilt, which is a fungal infection transmitted by an invasive, wood-boring beetle. This disease affects trees in the Laurel family, including the beloved avocado tree. Pinellas County’s first case of Laurel Wilt was detected in 2011, and since then, the problem has spread throughout both public parks and trees in residential areas. Unfortunately, there’s no treatment for this fatal illness, and affected trees are generally just removed. All dying trees will rot from the inside out, which makes them very hazardous and likely to collapse.
Even perfectly healthy trees need regular maintenance to stay looking their best and free of diseases. Most trees should be pruned, either annually or every two years, as a way of managing their growth. Weak or dead branches aren’t doing your tree any favors, and they often contain rotting material that attracts tree pests. Overgrown branches are also very likely to get ripped off during a tropical storm, which can cause expensive damage if it lands on your vehicle. The pruning process is a way of encouraging some healthy new growth, and this makes the tree stronger overall.
Healthy trees are a major plus for any property, but it’s also possible for them to cause damage or create unsafe situations. Tall trees are notorious for interfering with utility lines. Many large shade trees have powerful root systems that can cause damage to your home’s foundation by growing into cracks in the cement or disturbing the surrounding soil enough to cause settling. Sometimes a tree is simply not right for your property, or not right for where it was planted.
Does Pinellas County Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
The quirky thing about Pinellas County is that a very large chunk of the population lives on unincorporated land, which means they’re not located in any of the 24 cities or municipalities within the county’s borders. The municipal services for these 300,000 residents are provided by the county itself. When it comes to problematic trees, Pinellas County does all maintenance for trees located in parks and publicly-owned streets. This can include trimming trees that are blocking streetlights or removing trees that are a falling hazard because of advanced diseases.
Problematic trees located on private property in the unincorporated areas of Pinellas County are the responsibility of the owner. The county has a series of ordinances designed to protect our urban forest and to make sure all removals are done safely and efficiently by a certified arborist like us. You do have to apply for a permit for most mature trees, especially if the tree’s canopy is more than 30 inches in diameter. This is because larger, older trees are more valuable to the community, and they deserve special protection. Residential tree removal permits are $50 for a living tree and $18 for a tree that’s already dead. Commercial tree permits in Pinellas County cost $250.
Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal in Pinellas County?
The west-central coast of Florida doesn’t see nearly as much hurricane action as some other regions in the state, but we do get our fair share of tropical storms. Strong winds always come with plenty of downed trees in Pinellas County, and they can also cause property damage on the way down. Fallen trees are an eyesore, and they’re also likely to attract termites. So who is responsible for removing them?
If you’re a homeowner?
Homeowners are responsible for all maintenance on their property, which includes fallen trees. Your homeowner’s insurance will likely cover the cost of the removal, especially if the tree caused any damage to your home, a fence, or another part of your property.
Keep in mind that many insurance policies will only cover healthy trees that collapsed during extreme weather. If your insurer decides that the fallen tree was unhealthy, with poor structural integrity, they can consider you negligent and deny the claim. This is one of many reasons why it’s important to get trees professionally removed once they’re a falling hazard.
If you’re a renter?
Depending on the terms of the lease, some renters in Pinellas County will be asked to handle basic maintenance like mowing the lawn. But you’re definitely off the hook when it comes to major upkeep like fallen tree removal.
If you’re a landlord?
As the owner of a rental property, fallen trees are your legal and financial responsibility. Your homeowner’s insurance will probably cover both the removal and any associated damages.
If you’re a neighbor?
What happens when your next-door neighbor’s tree collapses and lands partially on your property? This thorny situation is not unheard of in Pinellas County, especially after a big tropical storm. You might be surprised to learn that the unlucky neighbor does have to pay for the removal of the fallen tree, or at least the portion that reached their property. This is because, legally speaking, there’s no liability when it comes to extreme weather. Meaning that it’s not your fault, but it’s also not your neighbor’s fault. Your homeowner’s insurance will probably reimburse the tree removal expenses.
If it turns out that there was an element of negligence in the tree’s collapse, such as a tree that was visibly diseased, then that’s another story. Your neighbor would be considered liable and your insurer might pursue a claim against them for damages.
How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Pinellas County?
Trees thrive in healthy soil with plenty of moisture, minerals, and organic matter. The soil in Pinellas County is extremely sandy, which is typical for Central Florida. Due to its texture, sandy soil doesn’t hold onto much water or nutrition and this makes it less than ideal for growing healthy trees. The good news is you can make the soil more nourishing by adding in compost, grass cuttings, or peat moss.
Mulching is another amazing help for the soil, especially for younger trees that need plenty of water. Adding a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch makes the soil spongier and better at retaining moisture, which helps protect the roots from getting too dry. Pinellas County offers free mulch at several locations, and you can take as much as you want. This high-quality mulch comes from yard debris that was collected all over the county, and it’s even heat-treated to get rid of pests or diseases.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Pinellas County?
Our tropical weather is great for native trees that enjoy hot temperatures and plenty of rain, especially from June through September. Tropical weather does come with tropical storms, including relentless rain and strong winds that can cause serious damage to our trees. Florida also happens to be the most lightning-prone state in the country, and that makes lightning strikes another major hazard for trees in Pinellas County.
While we can’t control the weather, all trees will be healthier, stronger, and more resilient if they get regular maintenance. This should include a pruning schedule that’s appropriate for that species of tree. If you’re unsure how to proceed, we can help.
What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Pinellas County?
If the lights go out during a tropical storm in Pinellas County, it’s almost always because of collapsed trees that knock down power lines. Dead trees have very poor structural integrity, which makes them that much more likely to fall during extreme weather. Duke Energy has crews that actively manage all trees located near power lines in Pinellas County, both trimming and any necessary removals. If they’ve missed a potentially problematic tree, dead or alive, you should call Duke Energy or submit the dedicated form.
If you see a tree that has already fallen onto some power lines, call for help and don’t go near it. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous and pose a serious electrocution risk for anyone that’s up to 35 feet away.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Pinellas County?
Every tree removal is different, but the cost boils down to how much time and effort it will take our team of arborists to finish the job. In Pinellas County you can pay anywhere from $250 for the removal of a small tree to well over $2,000 for a very tall tree. Here are the most important factors we’ll use to give you an estimate:
We often have to cut bigger and larger trees in sections, which can be a complex process. This requires one arborist to climb the tree with the help of an extensive rigging system, while the rest of the team coordinates from the ground. Some tall trees may require the use of a bucket truck or a crane. In general, shorter trees are much easier for our team and that’s why they cost substantially less.
The complexity of any removal goes up with trees that are very close to a house, to power lines, or even to other trees. We have to take special precautions to make sure the process goes smoothly and that we don’t cause any damage. This might mean we need a bigger crew, more equipment, or simply more time.
Removing the stump is not automatically included within tree removal, but many homeowners choose to add on this extra service. The most popular option is to grind the stump down until it’s several inches below the soil. You can also choose to have the stump uprooted completely, which would require our team to dig deep into the ground and remove the root ball. Uprooting a stump is much more expensive than stump grinding because it requires special equipment, especially with mature trees that have very deep root systems.