Tree Protection Regulations


Regulations on tree protections differ when a tree is on public or private property. Typically, ownership is defined by the location of a tree trunk. There are situations where trees may be owned by multiple entities. The strongest protection typically applies in those situations.

Design standards for tree protection and Planting on all projects

These standards provide minimum standards for compliance with County regulations, and use best practices and national standards for tree protection and planting:

Tree protection and planting standards

Publicly-owned trees on Arlington County Property

All Arlington County-owned trees are protected by the Trees and Shrub Ordinance. Find out more here:

Trees and Shrub Ordinance

If, for some reason, a live tree needs to be removed, and this is approved by an Arlington County Urban Forester, projects follow the Tree Replacement Guidelines, found here:

Tree Replacement Guidelines

Privately-owned trees

In most cases, privately-owned trees not involved with construction, Resource Protection Areas, or local historic districts are not legally protected. See more on tree removal here:

Tree Removal

When developing a property by-right (without significant changes to the approved land use), landscape conservation plans may be required. Learn more about this here:

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance

For projects that require a separate landscape plan, through site plan conditions or zoning requirements, there may be additional requirements. Learn more about these requirements here:

Guide to Landscape Standards

Trees can be designated Specimen trees, which gives them legal protection. Learn more about whether a tree is a specimen tree, and how to designate one here:

Specimen Trees

Other public properties

Major public landowners in Arlington include the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), National Park Service (NPS), Department of Defense (DOD, primarily Arlington Cemetery), and NOVA Parks. Their regulations on tree removal may differ from Arlington County. These are some links to learn more about these organizations:




NOVA Parks: