Tree Pruning Guide

The Tree Pruning Guide was developed to help anyone, whether they know much about tree care or not, better understand the city’s adopted 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 responsibility of adjacent private property owners, they are still 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 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.


Photo: Friends of the Urban Forest