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Indigenous Tree Care

Contrary to popular belief, residents of Glendale are able to prune and maintain indigenous or protected trees. There are, however, rules and regulations that must be followed to properly maintain a protected tree. Unfortunately, these regulations have turned into urban myths, leaving residents confused as to whether or not they are allowed to regularly maintain protected trees on private property. To better assist our residents the City of Glendale has many links to inform and educate the public on indigenous tree maintenance.

Glendale’s Indigenous Tree Ordinance outlines what is and is not allowed when maintaining protected trees. Residents are free to routinely prune protected trees on their property. Specifically, to “routinely prune” means “the removal of any dead, dying, or diseased branches of a tree and the cutting of live interfering and weak branches not to exceed two (2) inches in diameter, performed in accordance with the arboriculture industry standards.”

If you would like to go beyond “routine pruning,” including cutting, removing, encroaching upon or moving protected trees, then a permit is required. Permitted tree work must be completed by a State licensed contractor.

Now that you know what you can do, let’s take a look at unacceptable Indigenous Tree care practices.

Hat racking: means a severe act of pruning a tree by reducing the length of branches, lowering the tree height, stubbing or removing foliage so that the tree resembles a hat or coat rack.

Lion’s tailing: means a severe act of pruning a tree by removing all the interior branches and foliage, leaving a limited amount of foliage at the end of each branch or limb so as to resemble the tail of a lion.

Topping: (also known as “heading back,” “stubbing” or “pollarding”) means a severe type of trimming which results in the cutting back of large branches to stubs; the removal of the upper twenty (20) percent or more of a tree’s trunk or primary scaffold.

While it is important to properly care for the external appearance of trees, it is equally important to nurture them from the inside out or from the roots up. Watering your trees is very important. Remember: Water your trees less frequently, and low and slow, to make sure the water is absorbed by the roots about 2-3 ft. below the ground. Young and newly planted trees should be watered every 10-14 days, mature trees two times a month, and Mediterranean climate trees once a month. The City of Glendale has various videos and resources to help you care for your trees. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact the Forestry Division by calling (818) 548-3950 or visit


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