Tree Resources for Property Owners

a tree-lined sidewalk along a parkway in Denver

One of the things that makes Denver such a beautiful, livable city is our diverse array of trees. City code requires property owners to maintain the trees on their private property and also maintain the trees located within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.

Approved street tree list

One of the things that makes Denver such a beautiful, livable city is our diverse array of trees.  Selecting the right tree for your site assures a healthy tree that will provide many years of benefits and enjoyment.  Denver Forestry has prepared this helpful guide to show you which tree species are recommended and which tree species are not permitted to be planted in the public right-of-way.

Not all tree species are approved for planting along Denver streets within the public right of way.

View Denver's full approved street tree list.(PDF, 656KB)

For more information contact the City Forestry office at 720-913-0651.

Hiring a Tree Service Company

View current Licensed Tree Contractors(PDF, 156KB)

Vegetation Ordinance (Chapter 57) requires that anyone performing tree care services including pruning and removing be licensed as a "Tree Service Company." When requesting services, ask to see evidence of license from prospective companies. Companies on the provided list have passed the minimum test requirements of the Office of the City Forester. Testing does not guarantee quality of work, please choose a contractor wisely. The Office of the City Forester does not Endorse any one company on the list. We do recommend that before you enter into any contractual agreement you receive at least three written, detailed bids and check references. If you feel a licensed tree company on this list has provided low quality work or has behaved in an unethical manner please contact our office at 720-913-0651 or  

In some cases, these licensed tree companies have additional certifications through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) or Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). View ISA credentialed companies.

If you would like to check if a licensed tree company is also a licensed pesticide applicator please visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture for contact information. 

Help with a Notice or Citation

If you are a property owner who has received a notice of violation from the Office of the City Forester please review the following information closely.  

City code requires property owners to maintain the trees on their private property and also maintain the trees located within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.  The City Forester is directed by this code to order the removal or pruning of trees that are determined to be dangerous, diseased, or an obstruction of the right-of-way.  Thousands of notices of violation are sent to property owners every year related to Chapter 57 of the municipal code(PDF, 58KB) and it is the property owner’s responsibility to comply with these notices within the established time frame.  

If property owners do not take action to correct the violation, or they do not contact the Arboreal Inspector who issued the notice to request an extension, administrative citation fines may be issued to the property owner.  

If a violation continues to go unresolved, the City Forester is directed by code to take action to have the violations corrected. The city Forester will authorize a low-bid on-call licensed tree service to remove or prune the tree(s) in violation, and the property owner is obligated to reimburse the Parks and Recreation Department for the costs of this remediation.  If the property owner does not work with the Department to pay back these expenses, city code requires the Department to place a lien on the property to secure the debt.  If the debt continues to go unpaid, the Department is directed to send accounts to a collection agency to pursue reimbursement. 

Please review the following important tips for successfully working to correct a notice of violation:

  • Stay in close contact with the Arboreal Inspector(PDF, 456KB) who issued your notice. Your Inspector has the ability to answer your questions, offer time extensions, and provide direction for hiring licensed contractors.
  • Property owners who do not take action to correct their violation, or make efforts to contact their Inspector for assistance, may be issued administrative citation fines.
  • Property owners have the right to appeal notices by sending the details of their appeal in writing to the Manager of Parks and Recreation. City code establishes that this appeal must be submitted within 15 days of the order.
  • Property owners have the right to appeal administrative citation fines by sending the details of their appeal in writing to the Manager of Parks and Recreation. City code establishes that this appeal must be submitted within 10 days of the date the citation was served.
  • Trees infected with a communicable disease or pestilence that threatens the good health of other trees (like Dutch elm disease) must be promptly removed. Infected wood must be disposed of as deemed appropriate by the City Forester to prevent further infections. Infected wood is almost never allowed to be stored as firewood, and typically must be promptly chipped, buried, debarked and/or burned.
  • Tree stumps are not allowed in the right-of-way, and must be ground out to 6 inches below existing grade.

Request a permit

By code, a permit is required from the Office of the City Forester prior to planting or removing trees from the public right of way.

These permits are free to the public, but must be approved by a representative of the City Forester.

If you are hiring a licensed contractor, they will be responsible for pulling all permits.

To request a permit please send a detailed email (including address, contact information, and species to be removed or planted) to with permit request in the subject line. 

Spring Storm & Tree Damage Resources

Property owners are responsible for*:

  • Cleanup of debris from trees on private property and from trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.
    • Limbs on the ground are considered debris. Property owners can hire any licensed company to haul limbs away- for this type of work, the company does NOT have to be a licensed tree contractor.
  • Pruning needs of private property trees and trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.  

For general questions about the condition of a public-right-of way tree, please contact Denver Forestry at

*If you live on a designated Parkway, the Office of the City Forester will provide the necessary tree work for trees in the PRW along the parkway but not on perpendicular streets. Adjacent property owners are not responsible for PRW trees on the parkway but would need to address trees on other streets if they live on a corner or have an alley.

Damaged tree and broken branches:

  • The Office of the City Forester recommends that you make sure any tree care contractor is licensed and insured- view current list.(PDF, 156KB)
  • Tree work can be very dangerous and you could be subject to serious injury if you attempt to perform this type of work without proper experience

Emergency tree and limb removal:

Unfortunately there are times when the safety of the public necessitates that the work be completed immediately and Denver Forestry cannot allow time for the property owner to find a licensed tree contractor.(PDF, 156KB)

When a tree or limb is blocking safe access to the street or right-of-way, Denver Forestry has an on-call contractor remove the limb or tree and bills the property owner for the work.

Non-Emergency tree and limb removal:

If a limb or tree is not interfering with the safe access of a street or right-of-way, the property owner may be given 24 hours to perform the work themselves or contract with a licensed tree contractor.(PDF, 156KB)

Should the property owner choose to allow the City to assist through an established on-call contractor, the cost of the work will be billed to the responsible property owner.

When performing any tree work yourself, always check for utility wires and assume they are live!

Tips for removing snow from trees:

  • Be aware that accumulating snow, ice, or wind could cause limbs to break and fall at any time!
  • Check to make sure the tree is safe and clear of all utility lines prior to removing snow; DO NOT attempt to shake snow off a tree if a utility line is going through its branches or is within contact distance.
  • If the tree is clear of utility lines, use a broom to remove as much snow as possible from branches by brushing off or gently shaking. Avoid large, rapid movement as this could cause the limb to break
  • DO NOT attempt to climb tree or use ladder to reach higher limbs!

Disposal and Recycling of Smaller Tree Branches

For residents managing smaller limbs on their own, Solid Waste Management provides the following options for disposal and recycling:

Option 1: Disposal
Trash cart and manual service customers:

  • Tie loose branches in bundles no longer than 4 feet in length and weighing no more than 50 pounds. No branches may exceed 4 inches in diameter.  
  • A maximum of 10 branch bundles per household will be collected per the overflow collection cycle (every 3 weeks).
  • Do not place branches in your city issued black trash cart and place at least 2 feet away from black cart when setting bundles out for collection.

Dumpster Service Customers:

  • Tie loose branches in bundles no longer than 4 feet in length and in bundles weighing no more than 50 pounds. No branches may exceed 4 inches in diameter.
  • maximum of 5 bundles of branches can be placed in dumpsters at a time.
  • Customers with more branches should hold those branches for their next LIP collection.   During LIP week, residents may place up to 10 branch bundles (meeting the above standard) in the alley, at least 4 feet from their dumpster.

Option 2: Recycling
Residents wishing to recycle their branches or to remove them from their property sooner may bring their branches to the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-Off center located at Quebec and Cherry Creek Drive South:
Tuesday – Friday, 11:00AM - 5:30PM
Saturdays, 9:00AM – 3:00PM
Branches may not be left at other times. 

Large Limb Disposal 
(bundles more than 4 ft. long & more than 50 lbs.)

Public Works, Solid Waste Management may provide a tree debris drop-off site for residents only.

If a debris drop-off site is not available, property owners can dispose of tree debris at a landfill or hire a contractor(PDF, 156KB) to remove the debris. 

Tree planting & replacing tips

The sudden and deep freeze of November 2014 caused significant damage to many trees in the metro area. The Denver City Forester stresses diversity in replanting. As of 2015, the top recommended shade trees for Denver's climate include:

Late September and October are generally excellent times to plant trees and many nurseries offer sales during this time of year as well.

Please remember that permits are required to remove or plant trees in the public right-of-way. Learn more | View current licensed tree contractors(PDF, 156KB)

Residents interested in recycling branches can find more information on the Public Works Recycling page.

Tree pruning & removal

When the time comes to prune or remove a tree, there are some important questions that need to be answered.  Most importantly there needs to be an understanding of whether the tree in need of maintenance is located on private property or within the public right-of-way.  While property owners in Denver are responsible for maintaining the city trees within the right-of-way adjacent to their property, there are some very important regulations that protect how those trees are managed.
Chapter 57(PDF, 58KB)  of Denver’s municipal code makes it is illegal to remove a right-of-way tree without first obtaining an approved permit from the City Forester.  Denver’s street trees provide environmental, social and economic benefits that are of value to all residents, and for these reasons removal permit requests for healthy trees of value will often be denied.  City trees that are removed without a permit are often worth thousands of dollars, and the city code requires that the responsible party compensate the City of Denver for the lost monetary value of the tree to the satisfaction of the City Forester.
The majority of trees on private property may be removed at the discretion of the property owner and their removal does not require a permit.  However, when a property is in the process of demolition or construction, the zoning code grants the City Forester regulation over the trees within the front and side setbacks of the property.  During demolition and construction, all trees located in the setbacks of a property must be protected and preserved throughout the project, and trees may not be removed without a permit from the City Forester.

Tree work is a dangerous activity, and major work often requires highly skilled individuals to complete the work safely.  The professional arborist not only needs to been trained in safe tree work practices, but they also need to be well educated to understand the biology of trees.  As trees are valuable and complex living organisms, the professional arborist can protect tree health and ensure the work is done safely.  For the protection of person, property and tree health, Denver’s city code establishes that it is unlawful for any person to engage in the business of cutting, trimming, pruning, or removing trees without a license.  The City Forester is obligated to establish and monitor licensed tree contractors(PDF, 156KB) for the City and County of Denver.

There are currently no requirements for permits to prune private property or public right-of-way trees.  However it is very important to understand that city code does require that all pruning of right-of-way trees be done to industry standards.  A private property owner is allowed to prune the city trees within the right-of-way adjacent to their property, but the work must be done not damage the trees.  If a right-of-way tree is improperly pruned (topping for example) the City Forester may deem the tree to be irreparable damaged and reimbursement for the value of the tree may be required.