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State and County Tree Regulations

State of Maryland Tree Regulations


Maryland has adopted the “Massachusetts Self-Help Rule” that says you may take action to prune branches from a tree on your neighbor’s property that extends into your property. Always notify the tree owner first. However, you may not destroy the tree in the process, nor can you cut the tree down.  Also, you must stop at the property line unless the neighbor has given you permission. It is best to have that permission in writing.  Please keep in mind that Takoma Park City law requires that you submit a Request for Tree Impact Assessment if you intend to prune more than 10% of the live crown of an urban forest tree.

When a tree or its branches fall, it is considered an “Act of God”, unless the tree was known by the owner to be dead or hazardous. This means the cleanup of the portion of the tree that falls onto a particular property is the responsibility of the owner of that property.  Such accidents are normally covered by the affected property’s home owner’s insurance and are usually resolved by reporting a claim.  The exception to this general rule is that the owner of the property where the tree originated may be responsible for damage to a neighbor’s property if the owner knew, or had good reason to know, that the tree presented a danger.


Maryland’s Roadside Tree Law 

This law, passed in 1914, regulates and protects roadside trees by ensuring their proper care and protection. Before trimming or removing a roadside tree, you must obtain a Tree Care Permit from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service. Any work done on a roadside tree must be performed by a licensed tree care expert. If you perform care without a permit, you will receive a fine or a more severe penalty from the DNR. A permit is also required when underground construction (tunneling, trenching, or boring) impacts a roadsides tree’s roots.  The City maintains a  Road Side Tree Blanket Permit to conduct work around trees that fall under this State regulation.

Click here to learn more about the Maryland Roadside Tree Law


To report tree issues on State roads such as Carroll Ave, Ethan Allen Ave, New Hampshire Ave, Philadelphia Ave, Piney Branch Rd, and University Blvd please contact:

State Highway Administration
410-582-5650 (District 3)


Montgomery County Tree Regulations


The Tree Canopy Law sometimes requires a property to plant new shade trees during any development project that requires a sediment control permit.  This tends to apply to projects that disturb more than 5,000 square feet of soil. If you can’t or don’t want to plant a tree there is a $250 mitigation fee.


The Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law was created to save, maintain, and plant forested areas to benefit current County residents and future generations to come. This law applies to property owners, government entities, and developers who need approval for a development plan, sediment control permit, or activity that could potentially harm a champion tree.


To learn more about each individual law, check out the Department of Environmental Protection Montgomery County

To report an issue on a Montgomery Parks property visit Montgomery Parks Information & Customer Service

Tree Permits and Regulations Sections