Removing a tree isn’t quite as simple as grabbing a handsaw and a wheelbarrow. Because trees play an important role in the local environment, the city of Seattle imposes restrictions on the amount of vegetation and trees a property owner is allowed to remove.

Click here for the City of Seattle’s Urban Forestry Permit Application.

The following rules apply depending on the type of property in question:

Developed Property

Property owners are not permitted to remove any “exceptional” trees, or trees that are exceptionally large in size or have historical or ecological value. Furthermore, residents are not permitted to cut down more than three trees 6 inches or greater in diameter per year.

Hazardous trees are those that have been assessed by tree risk professionals and certified horiculturalists. These may be removed without restriction as long as a professional assessment is made.

Developing Property

Property under construction or beginning development provides more flexibility as to the number of trees available for removal. If a tree limits your accessibility or functionality of the property, you may add these factors to your permit application process.

Undeveloped Property

No tree removals are permitted over 6 inches or greater in diameter without a certified hazardous tree designation.

Environmentally Protected Areas

Residents may not remove trees or vegetation from environmentally critical areas such as slopes, wildlife habitats, or wetlands without prior approval and permitting.

How to Apply for a Tree Removal Permit in Seattle

Step 1: Do Your Research

Access your property’s information to find out about zoning, lot size, and any environmentally critical areas by using the City of Seattle’s interactive map.  Seattle’s Public Resource Center also provides free coaching sessions for homeowners seeking additional information on tree removal and restoration permitting and approvals.

Step 2: Initiate the Approval Process

In order to remove a tree deemed hazardous, you’ll need the following information:

A Hazard Tree Removal Application
– A Hazard Tree Evaluation by a certified professional
– Accompanying letter supporting the decision to remove the tree by a certified professional
– Photos detailing the project and showing evidence of hazardous conditions
– A detailed site plan

Step 3: Submit the Application

There are three ways to submit your application:

– In person at the Public Resource Center (20th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower)
– Via email to prc@seattle.gov
– Via mail:
Public Resource Center
700 Fifth Ave., Suite 2000
P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Once submitted, the approval process will vary based on demand. Your application or denial will be sent via email or mail.

Of course, the team at WA Tree Experts has plenty of experience dealing with local requirements for tree and vegetation removal. We’re ready and equipped to assist homeowners with the permitting process as well as assessing the health of trees as part of the application process all around the Puget Sound – we often work with other municipalities outside of Seattle, each with their own unique requirements for tree removal.

Contact us for more information or to learn more about the details involved in tree removal.