One of the most iconic natural features in the southern U.S. is the live oak tree. Live oaks proliferate in the Florida panhandle and are almost everywhere you look. They can grow to as high as 80 feet with 150 foot canopies. If there’s a live oak on your property or you’re considering buying a home with live oaks, there are some things you should know.
The wood of a live oak is one of the heaviest native hardwoods, with a density of 55 pounds per cubic foot. As such, they can do serious damage if they fall on a structure or personal property. Many homes in Tallahassee have live oak branches hanging over them. Live oak limbs can be trimmed back without a permit by any of a number of tree services or arborists in Tallahassee as long as you’re not removing over 25% of the canopy.
When it comes to having a live oak removed, the situation becomes a little dicey. Any tree with a Diameter Breast Height (DBH, diameter of the tree trunk) of 36″ requires a permit from Leon County to be removed. If the tree is in declining health, a permit will likely be issued. If the tree is in good health, the permit application can and likely will be turned down. It’s always best to have a certified arborist look at the tree to determine the likelihood of a permit being granted. Trees with less than 36″ DBH can be cut down without a permit.
Tree limbs also pose a problem when trying to have a home insured. Most insurance companies will require that there be no branches within 5 feet of a home’s roof. If the tree looks to be in poor condition, an insurance company may require that it be removed before coverage is initiated. This is usually evaluated when the insurance company does a drive by inspection or has a four-point inspection done.