First Time Homeowner Fail: I Called The Tree Police On Myself.

Being that I'm a fairly new first-time homeowner of a very old house, I'm having to learn some lessons about homeownershit the hard way. Like...

1. The home warranty people live to nickel and dime and annoy you.
2. A good plumber and electrician are hard to find and expensive as hell.
3. Bills are scary, and keep you up at night, so a good budget is key.
4. Owning a home on a corner lot in a desirable zip code with it's own garden tour is a lot of pressure, including from the city, which I just learned the hard way when I called the tree police on myself... by accident of course.

Our hundred year old home sits on the corner of a beautiful street lined by MASSIVE trees.  According to my neighbors, they were planted by the city and are about 40-50 years old. Some are in better shape than others, but for the most part they are uniform and lovely.  I have two on my property.

Our home is also located a couple of blocks from a middle school, and since school has been back in session, our sidewalk has become a kid highway in the morning and afternoon. One of the trees along the road is FULL of deadwood, and drops a few large branches every time the wind blows. Worried about the safety of the kid highway, I called the council, and said, Your trees by my house are full of deadwood, so you need to come deal with this hazard to children, ASAP!  

The council lady told me that she would put in the report, but that it was possible that even though the city planted the tree, I would be responsible for it since it's on my property. I explained that tree was sitting on the road, on the other side of the sidewalk from my house, and that I was sure it was the city's problem. Not mine...



The city arborist came out, looked at the tree and then got back in his truck. I went out to see what his plan for the tree was, and are you ready for this...

He gave ME a Citation!!



He told me that the tree was my responsibility, and that he wrote me a citation to have the deadwood removed, and would put in for a permit so the tree service that removes the deadwood can close half the street.


Citation? Permit? Tree Service? My problem?

He told me I had thirty days to get the tree taken care of, then he would come back and check it out and if it looked good, remove the citation.
Thankfully, it's not a huge amount of deadwood, and most of it has already fallen to the lower branches. 

Of course, I asked the million dollar question... Am I getting a fine or do I have to pay for this permit?

The arborist told me that there would be no fine, and that I just needed to have the deadwood removed and that was all I had to do.  The rest he would do.

I just looked at him and said, So I basically just called the tree police on myself?

Arborist: Yes, ma'am. You sure did. But don't worry, just get the deadwood removed and care for the tree and this will likely be the last time you see me.  Unless your sidewalk becomes a trip hazard.  

Oh. shit. Not the sidewalk too?

Arborist:  The sidewalk is the city's problem, so if the sidewalk becomes raised by 5 inches from over growth due to the roots of the tree, the city will come out and fix the sidewalk, but you would have to remove the tree first. 


So, now I have to make FTD climb a ladder and remove deadwood from the tree. No freaking way am I hiring a service!  It's bad enough I called the tree police on myself, I'm not adding a costly insult to my injury!  Besides, I have faith that FTD will do a fabulous job...

Lesson #444 from the first-time homeowners in the hundred year old house on a corner lot in the urban jungle: Don't call the council on yourself, call on your neighbors only. 

Want to know and see more about the 1920's fixer-upper, the renovations we have done so far, and the things we have learned?  Check out these other posts....

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit