San Francisco Environment Department

Tree Pruning Standards

The adopted Pruning Standards were developed to improve the care of San Francisco’s public trees, though these best practices can be used to improve the care of any tree in San Francisco. They were based on best practices developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and American National Standard Institute (ANSI).

Most trees on public property are cared for by the city, with the exception of sidewalk trees. Though the majority of these trees (roughly 60K out of about 100K total) are the care responsibility of adjacent private property owners, it’s important to note that they are public property and are regulated by the city. When working on these trees, it’s important for property owners to understand and adhere to the Adopted Pruning Standards to ensure the tree stays healthy. 

While not all trees need to be pruned frequently, adhering to a regular pruning schedule helps improve the health and structure, and therefore the lifespan, of all trees – not just street trees. It’s always best to work with a Certified Arborist to ensure the best possible care of your trees. Certified Arborists can be found through the International Society of Arboriculture website or through the Friends of the Urban Forest's list of recommended arborists.

Remember: if you are responsible for the trees adjacent to your property, you are also responsible for any damages made by a contractor you hire. It’s always best to hire a knowledgeable professional who understands city regulations.

Related Content

Recommended Tree Lists
Tree Pruning Standards (PDF)
Tree Pruning Guide (PDF)

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