Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are The Most Common Tree Issues In Seattle?
- 2 Does The City of Seattle Provide Any Assistance In Tree Removal Problems?
- 3 Who Is Responsible For Fallen Tree Removal In Seattle?
- 4 How Does The Soil Affect Trees In Seattle?
- 5 Does Weather Affect Tree Health In Seattle?
- 6 What If Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines In Seattle?
- 7 How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Seattle?
What Are The Most Common Tree Issues In Seattle?
Nicknamed the Emerald City, Seattle is filled with greenery year round and has an abundance of beautiful trees, like the Cherry Blossoms on the Quad at the University of Washington or the vast fir trees that gave Washington state its unofficial nickname, the Evergreen State. Maintaining the urban forest, as it is called in Seattle, can be difficult for multiple reasons. Urban growth, invasive plants and insects, as well as the wet climate, all contribute to this. Additionally, illegal cutting of trees can be a problem in Seattle, and the city relies on the public to report any illegal cutting.
- Invasive plants, such as English Ivy and Himalayan blackberries, affect trees in different ways. English Ivy grows up the trunk of a tree and smothers the branches, killing the tree. It also steals nutrients from the tree and provides a haven for rats. Blackberries overtake native plants and block natural regrowth of trees that require sun.
- Trees native to Seattle include the Douglas fir, the Western Red Cedar, and the Bigleaf Maple. These are particularly susceptible to weather, though in different ways. Fir trees send out more surface roots than deep roots and are easily uprooted during heavy rain and windstorms. Maple trees are less likely to be uprooted, but their large branches can break and cause damage during wind storms.
- Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs) are designated by the City of Seattle and include riparian corridors, shoreline habitat and shoreline habitat buffers, as well as wetlands and wetland buffers. Areas that are potentially slide areas or known slide areas and have steep slopes are also designated ECAs. Generally, only non-native or hazardous trees can be removed from these areas without a plan for replanting. You also need to have prior approval from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) prior to proceeding with tree removal.
Does The City of Seattle Provide Any Assistance In Tree Removal Problems?
The City of Seattle usually only provides assistance for trees that are a danger to power lines or other critical infrastructure. Trees that are adjacent to a street are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner unless the tree actually falls down in the street. Additionally, most tree removal, even on private property, requires a permit through the city. If a tree is deemed an exceptional tree, due to its size, history, or age, among other factors, the city will assist with tree removal if the tree is determined to be hazardous.
Who Is Responsible For Fallen Tree Removal In Seattle?
Determining who is responsible for removing a fallen tree can be complicated. It can also lead to Hatfield and McCoy size feuds. What if it is your tree, but it fell into the street? What if you rent your house and a tree fell? How about if your neighbor’s tree falls into your yard? Let’s take a look.
If you’re a homeowner?
If your tree falls in your yard, you are responsible for removing it. If it falls into the street, you might not be financially responsible for having it removed, but you are responsible for contacting the city. Additionally, if the tree is diseased or is already dead prior to falling, it will fall to you to remove the tree, and most homeowner’s policies do not cover the cost if they determine you were negligent. If it falls into your neighbor’s yard, again, unless there is negligence, you are not financially responsible. But it is always nice to help your neighbors and starting a neighborhood feud is really not something to be known for.
If you’re a renter?
In most cases, you are not responsible for removing a fallen tree if you are renting your house. However, it is important to read your lease carefully to make sure there is not a clause that states you are responsible. Additionally, renters insurance will usually cover costs associated with damage to personal property. You should call your landlord as soon as possible if a tree falls on your house. It is also important to be aware that if you are responsible for the tree falling, say you hit it with your car, your landlord may come to you to pay for the damages and/or removal of the tree. It is also possible your renter’s insurance would not pay for any damages in this situation.
If you’re a landlord?
Similar to a homeowner, as the owner of the rental, you are responsible for removing any fallen trees. You should promptly communicate with your renter to arrange removal and assess any damages. If your renter was responsible for the tree falling, and you are able to prove this, in most cases you are within your rights to require the renter to pay for damages and removal of the tree.
If you’re a neighbor?
Unless your neighbor had knowledge of problems with the tree that led to the fall and was negligent, you are responsible for having the tree removed. However, your homeowner’s policy should cover the damage and costs. It is a good idea to discuss concerns you have about trees on their property before they fall, but if there is not anything inherently wrong with the tree, they do not have to remove it.
You should never try to remove trees that hit power lines and if there are damages to water or sewer pipes, you need to call the City of Seattle for assistance. Additionally, many areas are designated as Environmentally Critical Areas requiring permits before removing trees.
How Does The Soil Affect Trees In Seattle?
The soil in Seattle is generally very acidic due in large part to the high amount of rainfall the area sees. It also drains very poorly and only has moderate permeability. While this soil provides more nutrients and promotes growth, it makes trees more susceptible to rain and wind. Other factors to take into account involve how your yard and the surrounding area will be impacted by the tree removal. It is critical to maintain a healthy soil as a replacement, and we will work with you to plan out the best way to accomplish this.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health In Seattle?
Yes! The Seattle area is known for having a particularly wet climate, and this, combined with wind storms, is a large contributor to downed trees. Trees like the Western hemlock or Douglas firs, for example, have more surface roots than deep roots. So when the soil is saturated from a large rain, a strong gust of wind can easily take the tree down. As we talked about earlier, maple trees are less likely to be uprooted by the rain and wind, but their branches, which can be as long as 50 feet, can break and do just as much damage as a fir tree falling. Their leaves can also clog drains, which can lead to even more ground saturation.
What If Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines In Seattle?
Dead trees near power lines can be very dangerous, and it is not advised that you remove them on your own. Because of the amount of wind and rain Seattle sees, downed trees and tree branches on power lines is unfortunately a common occurrence. According to the City of Seattle, Seattle City Light is responsible for monitoring and maintaining trees near power lines. They have an easy online contact form, and you can also view where and when they are doing preventative trimming. And if they have to remove a tree on your property for safety reasons, they will provide a replacement tree through their Trees for Neighborhoods program. Unless it is on an emergency basis, they will contact you prior to removing trees on your property.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Seattle?
Every tree removal is different, and as such there are no set prices. In Seattle, on average, it can cost between $500 and $1,500 to remove the tree. Depending on the reason for removal, your homeowner’s insurance may cover some or all of the cost, minus a deductible. Because the City of Seattle requires a permit for the majority of tree removals, this can also potentially add to the cost of removal. Our arborist or tree trimmer will be able to either supply, or help you apply for, the needed permits.
Height and Circumference of Tree
The bigger and thicker the tree, the more expensive it will be to remove. This is due to the amount of time and resources that are needed. Particularly in a densely urban area, such as Seattle, it is not safe to just Paul Bunyun the tree and yell “Timber!” Our tree trimmers employ a cut from the top-down method, which involves, as the name suggests, cutting sections of the tree starting at the top. While definitely safer, this process generally requires multiple people and is not a quick process.
In a more rural area, it can be easier to remove a tree, particularly if there are no other houses or buildings nearby. However, Seattle is one of the most densely populated cities in the country, and therefore more caution and planning is needed prior to removing trees. This makes it more expensive to remove trees and also requires more time and people.
These are trees designated by the City of Seattle as either a heritage tree, or a tree that is rare or exceptional. This can be based on the size of the tree, the species of tree, age of the tree, or the cultural or historic importance of the tree. Unless the tree is determined to be hazardous, you actually can not remove it. If you believe a tree that is considered exceptional is hazardous, you can contact the city and if it is deemed to be hazardous they will assist in removal of the tree.