How Do I.........?


You want to select the "right tree for the right place". Before selecting a tree, you need to answer some questions. 1. WHY IS THE TREE BEING PLANTED?
Do you want the tree to provide shade, fruit, or seasonal color, or act as a windbreak or screen?
Does the space lend itself to a large, medium or small tree? Are there overhead or belowground wires or utilities in the vicinity? Do you need to consider clearance for sidewalks, patios or driveways? Are there other trees in the area?
Is the soil deep, fertile, and well-drained, or is it shallow, compacted and infertile?
Do you have time to water, fertilize, and prune the newly planted tree until it is established?
Based on your answers to those questions, review publications (such as Waterwise South Florida Landscapes, on the internet at and available in hard copy at no charge from the South Florida Water Management District) to determine which species of tree will best meet your needs. Once you select a species, you will need to select a high-quality tree at the nursery.
 A high-quality tree has:

  • Sound roots that grow outwards from the trunk to support healthy growth
  • A trunk free of mechanical wounds and wounds from incorrect pruning
  • A strong form with well-spaced, firmly attached branches

A low-quality tree has:

  • Crushed or circling roots in a small root ball or small container
  • A trunk with wounds from mechanical impacts or incorrect pruning
  • A weak form in which multiple stems squeeze against each other or branches squeeze against the trunk


1. Before you dig, locate all underground utilities by calling Sunshine State One Call at (800) 432-4770 two days before digging. This is a free service.
2. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. The hole should be 2 - 3 times the diameter of the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball.
3. To avoid damage when setting the tree in the hole, ALWAYS lift the tree by the root ball and NEVER by the trunk. The trunk flare, where the roots spread at the base of the tree, should be partially visible after the tree has been planted. It is better to plant the tree a little high, 2-3 inches above the base of the trunk flare, than to plant it at or below the original growing level. Planting too deeply is a common cause of tree failure.
4. Straighten the tree in the hole before backfilling with soil. Fill the hole about 1/3 full and gently but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. If the tree is balled and burlapped, cut and remove the string and wire from around the trunk and the top third of the root ball. Fill the remainder of the hole, taking care to firmly pack the soil to eliminate air pockets by adding the soil a few inches at a time and watering in. Continue this process until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted.
5. Stake the tree, if necessary. Trees establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they are not staked at the time of planting. If you do need to stake the tree, use wide, flexible tie material (not wire) that will hold the tree upright, provide flexibility, and minimize injury to the trunk. Remove support staking and ties within one year.
6. Mulch the base of the tree. Mulch helps retain moisture, moderates temperature extremes and reduces competition from grass and weeds. Place mulch in a layer 2-4 inches deep, keeping the mulch 1-2 inches away from the base of the tree. Your ring of mulch should extend at least 2 feet from the tree trunk to minimize the risk of string-trimmer damage to the trunk. Even though cypress mulch may be the least expensive and most readily available mulch, avoid using it since its use is threatening the survival of these native trees. Use melaleuca mulch instead, an environmentally-friendly alternative that is helping to eliminate an exotic invasive tree species.
7. Provide follow-up care. Keep the soil moist, but not soaked (overwatering will cause leaves to yellow and fall off). Gradually reduce frequency of watering as the tree gets established. Conduct only minor pruning until the tree has completed a full season of growth.


ALL tree trimmers working in Broward County must have a Broward County Tree Trimmers License. You can find local certified arborists, by visiting the International Society of Arboriculture website at ISA Certified Arborists have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual but cannot guarantee or ensure quality performance.
If the tree trimmer you hire is uninsured, you could be held liable for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the job. An arborist should have personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance (if there are more than 3 employees). Workers compensation insurance coverage can be verified by calling the Florida Department of Financial Services toll-free Consumer Helpline at (800) 342-2762.
Be wary of individuals who go door to door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too busy to solicit work in this manner.
Don't always accept the low bid. Make your selection based on price, skill, professionalism and the work to be done. Improper tree care can take many years to correct, if it can be corrected at all. Good arborists will only perform accepted practices, and will not top (hat-rack) a tree, remove an excessive amount of live wood, use climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, or remove or disfigure a living tree without cause.
Read and understand the contract before you sign it.
Pruning large trees can be dangerous. If pruning involves working above the ground or using power equipment, it is best to hire a professional arborist. An arborist can determine the type of pruning necessary to improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees. A professional arborist can provide the services of a trained crew, with all of the required safety equipment and liability insurance.
1. Educate yourself about proper tree pruning (by visiting websites such as or hire a professional tree trimmer.
2. If you decide to tackle pruning yourself, have a purpose in mind before making a cut. Good pruning techniques remove structurally weak branches while maintaining the natural form of the tree. For most young trees, maintain a single dominant leader. Leave some lateral branches in place, even though they may be pruned out later, to contribute to the development of a sturdy well-tapered trunk and to help protect the trunk from sun and mechanical injury. Branches selected to be permanent scaffold branches must be well-spaced, both vertically and radially, along the trunk. A good rule of thumb for vertical spacing of permanent branches is to maintain a distance equal to 3% of the tree's eventual height.
3. Use the proper tools and make sure they are clean and sharp. Clean and sterilize tools before making cuts on another tree to prevent the spread of pathogens. For branches up to ½" in diameter, bypass hand pruners are adequate. For branches larger than ½" in diameter, use loppers or a pruning saw.
4. Prune branches that are dead, dying, diseased, crowded, weakly attached (those with narrow angles of attachment and tight crotches), of low-vigor, and to increase light and air penetration, reduce weight on heavy limbs, and provide clearance.
5. Make clean cuts just outside the branch collar.
6. Cut branches back to a lateral branch or bud. Do not make internodal cuts (cuts between buds or branches).
7. Avoid overthinning the interior of the tree, which can starve the tree, reduce growth and make the tree unhealthy. Maintain at least half the foliage on branches arising in the lower two-thirds of the tree.
8. Do not use wound dressing. It does not reduce decay or speed wound closure and rarely prevents insect or disease infestations.


If you would like to have a tree removed, you must first obtain a permit for tree removal. To apply for a permit, go to the Building Department, located on the first floor of City Hall and obtain a permit application. Complete the application and be sure to include the owner's name and signature, tree care worker's name, signature, and copy of their tree trimmer's license. After you submit the application, the tree will be evaluated by the City Landscaper Architect to determine if the permit will be granted. If the permit is granted, you can pick up the permit and pay the permit fee ($10 per tree) at City Hall. You will be required to plant replacement trees to mitigate for the loss of tree canopy caused by the tree removal. The number of replacement trees required will depend on the size and species of trees being removed and planted. If granted, the permit is valid for 30 days. Once replacement trees have been installed, you must contact the building department at 954-480-4250 or 4251, or fax your request to 954-422-5812 for a tree removal permit final inspection.


To report "hat-racking", tree abuse or unlicensed tree trimmers, contact the City Landscaper Architect at 954-571-4521, Code Enforcement at 954-480-4241 or the Broward Sheriff's Office at 954-765-4321.
 "Hat-racking" or topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. The most common reason given for "hat-racking" is to reduce the size of a tree. "Hat-racking" is not a viable method of height reduction and will make a tree more hazardous in the long term.

  • "Hat-racking" can seriously weaken a tree and may cause it to die.
  • A stressed tree is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations.
  • Cuts made along a limb between lateral branches create stubs with wounds that the tree may not be able to close, causing decay to move down through the branches.
  • "Hat-racking" can expose the bark of the tree to strong sunlight, causing sunburn leading to cankers, bark splitting, and the death of some branches.
  • The multiple shoots that are produced below stub cuts are not well attached to the tree. The new shoots grow quickly and are prone to breaking, making the tree more hazardous than it was before pruning.
  • "Hat-racking" destroys the natural form of the tree, making it appear disfigured and mutilated. A tree that has been "hat-racked" can never fully regain its natural form.
  • "Hat-racking" is expensive. The cost of "hat-racking" a tree is not limited to what was paid for the initial pruning job. If the tree survives, it will require pruning again at more frequent intervals and will either need to be reduced again or storm damage will have to be cleaned up, as branches are much more likely to fail. If the tree dies, it will have to be removed and replaced.
  • Your property value will be reduced. Healthy, well-maintained trees can add 10 to 20% to the value of a property. Disfigured, "hat-racked" tree are considered an impending expense.
  • Another possible cost is potential liability. "Hat-racked" trees are prone to breaking and can be hazardous. Because "hat-racking" is considered an unacceptable pruning practice, any damage caused by branch failure of a "hat-racked" tree may lead to a finding of negligence in a court of law.