Common Tree Issues

Typical Forestry Service requests include: 
Tree inspection, tree pruning, tree & stump removal

Problematic Tree Related Requests:

Trees add many benefits to our city… however we often receive requests concerning tree problems. These problems are not always the fault of the tree, but associated with the tree growing near sidewalks, utilities, and buildings. 


Sidewalk / tree root problems occur when surface tree roots contact sidewalk causing lifting or cracking. The majority of these problems exist in areas where large trees occupy small grow spaces and in areas where there is clay or compacted soils. 


We prune trees for signs. Traffic and regulatory signs and signals are a priority. We also prune trees for business signs, often with a caveat with the term ‘within reason’ of the amount of tree pruning and the distance..

Tree root / sewer lateral problems

Tree root / sewer lateral problems occur when old clay-tile sewer laterals fail and advantageous tree roots clog the drain. Requests are often made to remove the closest tree to the problem… the solution ranges from auguring the drain to installing a new PVC or plastic sewer lateral, this often can be sleeved through the existing pipe. We recommend that residents with this problem check with the Public Works Wastewater Division and consult a plumbing contractor. Note: Trees are not removed to alleviate sewer drain problems. Tree / Sewer lateral problems increase at the time of year of root growth – just prior to Spring bud break (April) and in the Fall after leaf drop (November). 

Vista Pruning

Portland is a great city with many fine views of Casco Bay, Western Mountains, Back Cove and city skyline to name a few. Recent ‘hotspots’ for vista pruning include the Eastern Promenade on Munjoy Hill and Back Cove. We do generate pruning requests for vista pruning where we meet with residents to go over various options. Unfortunately each year we have a small degree of unsanctioned tree pruning usually done in a haphazard manor. These actions are subject to fines or legal action. Best to contact us before pruning “city” trees !


These arboreal creatures often cause concerns for homeowners, especially in the Fall season. Tree pruning often seems to be a last chance, plausible solution that never seems to result in solving the rodent problem due to their adaptability of gaining access via gutters, overhead utility lines and other creative ways. Thus – tree pruning requests for squirrel-proofing tend to be low priority calls due to the ineffectiveness.


TREES do cause shade ! Our urban tree canopy helps reduce temperature, however, we do receive requests that some trees are “too shady”. We do generate work orders to conduct ‘crown thinning’ pruning or crown lifting as needed – they tend to be low priority requests. Recommendations include using grass seed mixes and using woody & herbaceous landscape plantings that are ‘shade tolerant’.

Insect & Disease Problems Shade & Ornamental Trees / Forests 

Trees have been around for millions of years, along with a host of insect & disease problems. 

Native& Non-native invasive pests effect tree health, we are particularly concerned with non-native pests such as ‘Emerald Ash Borer’ (EAB), ‘Asian Longhorn Beetle’ (ALB), ‘Hemlock Wooley Adelgid’ (HWA) that currently pose a threat to Maine’s trees. HWA is active in Southern Maine and in Portland. 

Current Conditions

The Maine Forest Service’s ‘Division of Forest Health & Monitoring’ is the first stop in researching current conditions and pest problems for Maine’s trees & forest.

There are many good web based options to find more information on tree pests, we generally recommend to start local with State of Maine / New England / Northeast Region information. The State of Maine – Insect & Disease Lab and the UMAINE Cooperative Extension are likely to have the information needed. The US Forest Service and other agencies support these efforts also.

Parks and Recreation
Fix It! Portland.

Contact Us


    212 Canco Rd, Ste A
    Portland, Maine
    PH: 207-808-5400

    8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

    INTERIM PARKS director

    Alex Marshall


    Jeff Tarling
    Email Forestry


    Jill Mulkern
    Ph: 207-808-5454

    (207) 874-8575

    Love Portland square