Tree Removal Information

What is a Grand Tree?

Any tree twenty-four inches (24″) or greater in diameter at 4.5’ above the grade (D.B.H.) excluding pine trees or sweet gums.

What is a Protected Tree?

Any tree eight inches (8″) or greater D.B.H., except multi-stem crepe myrtles.

Do I need a permit to remove a tree on private property?

Trees under 24” D.B.H. on lots that are zoned Single-Family Residential or Single and Two Family Residential or used exclusively for single-family or duplex dwellings do not require a permit for removal.

Commercially zoned lots, lots with three or more dwelling units and any residentially zoned lot with one (1) or more acres of land are required to maintain 15 Protected Trees per acre. If the property is able to maintain the 15 or more Protected Trees per acre, a permit is not required.

Trees in the critical line buffer are not permitted to be removed. For properties located on Daniel Island, removal of any tree 8” or larger D.B.H. located in the Visual Buffer Zone will require approval from the City of Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals – Site Design if certain conditions are met.

Protected and Grand Trees that are determined to be hazardous, diseased, injured to the extent it is irreparably damaged or causing damage to a habitable building where it cannot be remedied without removing the tree will be approved for removal.

How do I obtain a tree removal permit?

A tree inspection request will need to be completed. After the inspection if the tree meets the City’s tree removal standards a permit will be issued. If there is a questions of whether the tree is hazardous, diseased, injured or causing damage to a habitable building the Zoning Administrator may require documentation from an arborist who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or who is otherwise qualified.

Do I need a permit to prune a tree?

A permit is not required to prune a Grand or Protected tree. However, pruning shall be done by a qualified tree service and performed using the National Arborist Association’s Pruning Standards for Shade Trees.

How close can I build to a Grand Tree?

Grand Trees must maintain a minimum protective zone from any land disturbance activity, all proposed impervious surfaces, building materials, fill, construction debris, vehicles and heavy machinery during construction activities. The protective zone must be barricaded with a physical structure not less than 4’ in height. A suitable protective barrier shall be composed of wood or other durable material which insures protection of grand trees during development.

The minimum clearance from grand trees during development is based on the following formula: A 24” D.B.H. tree requires a minimum clearance of 12’ from the base of the tree, plus an additional one foot (1’) of clearance for every three D.B.H. inches (3”) in excess of twenty-four (24) (i.e., a tree having a D.B.H. of thirty-six inches (36”) must have a minimum clearance of sixteen feet (16’) between its base and any impervious surface).

Can I remove a tree within an OCRM Critical Line Buffer?

Removal of trees within an OCRM Critical Line Buffer are regulated as outlined in Section 54-347.1 and 54-348 of the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance.

How do i request a tree inspection?

To request a tree inspection fill out this form.