Hazardous Trees on Private Property

Fairfax County has no legal authority to require the removal of hazardous tree(s) that are located on private property unless the tree(s) threaten the public at large (public streets, sidewalks, school yards and parks). If the Urban Forest Management Division determines that the tree(s) are a threat to the public, then the owner of the property can be required to have the tree(s) removed.

When there is a dispute between neighbors about a potentially hazardous tree, this is a civil issue and Fairfax County will not take action in these situations.

When a potentially hazardous tree is located on private property and is not in a position to threaten any public areas, then Fairfax County will not require the removal of the tree, but recommends that the property owner contact a private Certified Arborist or Registered Consulting Arborist for advice on how to handle the situation. Possible solutions may include pruning to remove a branch with a weak attachment or has been weakened by decay, providing external support for weakened branches, providing remedial care, or removing the affected tree. Find out how to hire an arborist.  

If you are considering removing a tree on your property because you have concerns about safety, it is recommended that you first obtain a determination of the level of risk from an arborist qualified as a Tree Risk Assessor. Trees provide numerous benefits to the community and add value to your property. If the tree is a low to moderate risk, removal may not be necessary. Ask your arborist what steps could be taken to reduce the risk and make your property safer without removing the entire tree. If it is determined that removal is the best way to abate the hazard, you will need to determine if the tree is located in a conservation easement, Resource Protection Area or Environmental Quality Corridor that may be on your property. In general, trees that are determined to be dead, diseased and/or dying can be removed from these areas by hand, but may require replacement with similar vegetation. These restricted areas should be described in the recorded deed and may be delineated on the property plat. Conservation easements, Resource Protection Areas or Environmental Quality Corridors are also shown on County tax maps. Consult Urban Forest Management Division staff to review tree removal or planting, and for questions regarding Resource Protection Areas, Environmental Quality Corridors or conservation easements on private property. The Urban Forest Management Division can be contacted at 703-324-1770, TTY 711 or by e-mail.



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