Trees and vegetation play an important part in managing stormwater, stabilizing slopes, providing habitat, reducing air pollution, and contributing to neighborhood character. For these reasons, we regulate trees and vegetation removal on private property in certain situations.
Tree removal: Our codes limit the number and size of trees that you are allowed to cut down. (See our Tree Protection Code page.)
Vegetation restoration: Our codes restrict removing vegetation from most environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and buffers. You need a restoration plan (called an ECA revegetation approval) to plant native vegetation and to remove non-native or invasive plants in an ECA. The vegetation restoration plan helps prevent erosion, protect water quality, and provide diverse habitat.
Environmentally critical areas: You need to apply for an ECA revegetation approval plan to remove and restore trees and vegetation in landslide-prone areas (including steep slopes), steep slope buffers, shoreline habitat, shoreline buffers, wetlands, wetland buffers, and riparian corridors. Research your property to find out if it has environmentally critical areas.
Undeveloped land: You cannot remove any trees with trunks greater than 6 inches in diameter measured 4.5 feet from the ground without our approval. To get our approval, you need to submit a tree evaluation, which requires inspection by a certified tree risk assessor, and a hazard tree removal application.
Developed land: If the trees and vegetation are outside of an ECA or ECA buffer you must follow the tree protection rules. You usually need our approval to remove more than 3 trees with trunks larger than 6 inches in diameter or any designated exceptional tree.
Developing property: If you are developing your property, we will review your tree and vegetation removal plans as part of your permit application. See our complete list of permits for specific requirements.
Public right-of-way: If the trees are located in a public right-of-way, you need a permit from Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry to remove them.
Projects less than 1,500 square feet: We do not charge fees if you are removing trees or restoring vegetation on less than 1,500 square feet in environmental critical areas.
Projects more than 1,500 square feet: If your project covers more than 1,500 square feet in an ECA, you will need to go through a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review. You will need to pay fees for the SEPA review.
Hazard tree removal. We do not charge fees for removing hazard trees.
We try to finish the initial review within two weeks.
How long it takes to get the final approval depends on how complex your project is and how many corrections, if any, you need to make.
Get your property information. Use our interactive map to find your zoning, lot size, environmental critical areas, and trees over six inches in diameter.
Attend a coaching session. The Public Resource Center offers free 20-minute coaching to answer questions about the removal of trees and ECA vegetation restoration approvals.
Hazard Tree Removal
The following information must be submitted when requesting to remove a tree that is a hazard.
ECA Vegetation Restoration
You must use the Tree and Vegetation Standard Mitigation Plan, or an alternate format prepared by a qualified professional.
When you draw the planting plan, clearly identify existing vegetation and structures and the boundaries of parcels, ECAs, and ECA buffers.You should select plants appropriate for the soil and light conditions of your site. A list of recommended native plants is in Tip 331A.
We will send your approval by email or by mail based on your preference in your application request.
You don’t need an inspection unless it is specifically noted on your approval.