City of Austin Tree Removal Guidelines – Updated

Before you call us to remove a tree in your yard, we think it would be wise for you to familiarize yourself with the City of Austin Tree Removal Guidelines. They can help the tree removal process go smoothly especially if you need to get a permit. Certain trees are protected in the City of Austin.

What size trees are protected in the City of Austin?

A protected tree size in the City of Austin is determined by measuring the tree trunk. You do this at 4.5 feet off of the ground. This will give you the DBH, or diameter at breast height. Trees within the Austin city limits are protected once they reach 19 inches. Remember that Diameter = Circumference / 3.1416 and Circumference = Diameter X 3.1416. If you have questions on the formula or measurements, we can help. We understand the city guidelines and can tell you what you need to do.

So, what is the review process for a tree removal permit?

You only need a permit to remove a tree when it’s considered a protected tree. Protected trees, as we previously mentioned are 19 inches and above at the diameter of breast height (DBH), mentioned in the last section. When development of a residential property contains a protected tree size, there is a tree review that takes place. It occurs simultaneously with the building plan. The tree permit will be created along with the residential building permit. This rule really applies to developers before they build on property with protected tree sizes.

What may be more important for you, as a homeowner or a business owner within the Austin City Limits, is that a Tree Ordinance Review Application, or TORA, is required when protected trees need to be removed due to utility issues, diseases or other conditions. In other instances, you will have to submit a Residential Plan Review.

When do you need a TORA?

  • You need a Tree Ordinance Review Application is required when:
  • Trees are diseased, dead or imminent hazards,
  • You need a residential or commercial pre-development consultations,
  • You desire a residential or commercial utility repair or replacement,
  • There are commercial site plan excavations,
  • And there are non-construction related impacts to regulated trees (utility issues, conditions of trees, etc.)

You must submit your TORA through the online system, located at Austin Build + Connect (AB+C). The online application process can be used for TORA submittals, except for requests associated with residential construction. Those requests should be submitted through the Residential Plan Review process. A separate TORA is not required.  For information on how to submit an application, please visit this link.

When you do you need a Residential Tree Review/Permitting Process?

They are required when:

  • It impacts within the full critical root zone,
  • You need to prune more than 25% of the canopy,
  • And you must remove a regulated tree.

Please note that the tree permitting process for residential properties is consolidated with the Residential Plan Review application process. An online application is not required.

If you have any questions on the tree removal process, please contact the city arborist at or by calling 311.  We, at Austin Tree Service, can also help you with your tree removal questions. You can call us at 512-341-8888.

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