Tree Trimming Clarifications
Know Before You Cut!
The city understands that there is confusion regarding new regulations related to the Tree Preservation and Protection Ordinance, specifically the requirements for tree trimming permitting. Below are some points from the ordinance that will help you understand when a permit is required to trim a tree, as well as what is and is not allowed related to tree trimming. To read the entire ordinance, go hereView the Tree Removal Permit  here .

Pruning: The removing of branches (or occasionally roots) from a tree using approved practices, to achieve a specified objective. 

Injure or Injured: Any intentional or negligent act, including various tree climbing practices, spiking, flush cutting, incursion into a designated root save area and the use of climbing spurs or gaffs on trees not subject to removal that exposes the cambium of a tree to insects or decay organisms.

Destroy: Any intentional or negligent act or lack of protection that is more likely than not to cause a tree to die within a period of five (5) years, as determined by the city arborist.  Such acts include, but are not limited to: performing grade changes (including lowering or filling the grade) that affect more than thirty-three (33) percent of the tree protection zone; trenching of roots; cutting, girdling or inflicting other severe mechanical injury to the trunk, roots or other crucial structures of the tree; removing in excess of twenty (20) percent of the live crown of the tree, including topping or any similar improper pruning practices; inflicting damage upon the root system of a tree by the application of toxic substances, including solvents, oils, gasoline and diesel fuel; causing damage by the operation of heavy machinery; causing damage by the storage of materials; and/or deliberately or negligently burning or setting fire to a tree.  

Flush Cutting: The removal of limbs by cutting immediately adjacent to the trunk, destroying the protective branch collar and exposing the trunk to decay organisms.

Hat-Racking: The cutting of a lateral limb in such manner as to leave a prominent stub extending beyond a branch node or the trunk.

Topping: The cutting of large, dominant branches in such manner as to leave a prominent stub extending beyond the node (crotch) of another trunk or major branch that may become a trunk.

Section 12.05.02 Exemptions
(G)  Nothing in this Ordinance shall be construed to prevent the ordinary pruning and maintenance of a tree; nor shall anything in this Ordinance be construed to prevent the cutting or removal of any tree which the authorized municipal officers shall certify as required for public safety.

Section 12.05.04 Permit Procedure And Criteria For Tree Removal, Relocation, and Replacement Of Protected Trees
(C) Any person, organization, society, association, corporation or agent thereof who intends to trim, prune, cut, disturb roots, or to destroy or remove any protected tree from a public easement, public property or right-of-way shall obtain a permit from the City.  All work shall be conducted in strict accordance with the National Arborist Association Pruning Standards for Shade Trees (1988 ed.), the American National Standards for Tree Care Operations (ANSI #Z133.1), and any additional conditions of such permit.
  • Please note that the right-of-way includes the space between property lines that contains the roadway, sidewalks and utilities. Most property lines are not located at the edge of the road. You can check your property survey or the property appraiser website to clearly see these boundaries. Any pruning in this area will require a permit.
Section 12.05.15 Contractor Requirements
(A) Contractor registration shall be required for any and all companies performing tree care services including tree removal, tree pruning, tree planting, tree inspections, tree fertilization, pest control for trees, and any form of tree preservation.

The city is currently working on improving this ordinance and your feedback is appreciated and valued. If you would like to send us a comment, please email  

If you have questions, please call the city's Building Division at (850) 837-4242.
Scott Fischer

Rodney Braden
Parker Destin
Tuffy Dixon
Jim Foreman
Cyron Marler
Chatham Morgan
Prebble Ramswell

Destin City Council meetings are held the first and third Monday of every month in the council chambers at the Destin City Hall Annex located at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail. These meetings begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noticed.  See the City Calendar
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