Tree Protection and Removal

tree protection

The Town of Mount Pleasant protects certain size and species of tree, and removal of these trees require a permit.  Section 156.220 of the Town's Code of Ordinances outlines the importance of preserving the natural landscape through the protection of existing trees.  The intent is to encourage the protection and replacement of trees consistent with the economic and healthful enjoyment of private property.  It is not punitive, or meant to cause hardship to any individual, private firm, or public agency that uses every care and diligence to protect trees within the Town. The purpose of protection of existing trees is to:

  • lessen air pollution; 
  • increase dust filtration; 
  • reduce noise, heat and glare; 
  • prevent soil erosion; 
  • improve surface drainage and minimize flooding;
  • ensure that noise, glare and other distractions of movement in one area do not adversely affect activity within other adjacent areas; 
  • beautify and enhance improved and undeveloped land; 
  • preserve and protect both the natural and historic amenities within the town; 
  • ensure that excessive tree cutting does not reduce property values; 
  • to minimize the cost of construction and maintenance of drainage systems necessitated by the increased flow and diversion of surface waters


  1. Tree Inquiries

  2. Planning, Land Use, & Neighborhoods

    Physical Address
    100 Ann Edwards Lane
    Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

    Phone: : (843) 884-1229

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How to Measure a Tree

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Tree sizes are determined by measuring the number of inches at diameter breast height.  In order to measure the diameter breast height (dbh) you will need a loose tape measure and a calculator. To begin, measure from the ground to a spot 4 1/2 feet up the tree.  Then, from that point, wrap the tape measure around the tree to measure the circumference.  Finally, take the circumference and divide by pi (3.1415).  The resulting number  is the diameter of the tree.

To measure a multi-stem tree; if the tree trunk splits at ground level and does not share a common base, each trunk shall be measured as a separate tree. If a multi-trunk tree splits below the 4.5 foot mark all trunks 6 inches or larger in diameter at 4.5 feet shall be measured separately and combined to count as one tree.

Tree Pruning

Dead limbs can be removed at any time, but no more than 25% of the live crown can be  removed in any given year.  The topping of trees, including crepe myrtles, is not an acceptable practice.  Over-pruning can cause damage to a tree, even destabilizing it.

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Section 156.225 of the Town's Code of Ordinances outlines the provisions for tree removal of these protected species. Unless located in a buffer, right-of-way, or easement, the following trees are not protected and can be removed without a permit: pines, Sweet Gum, Callary Pear varieties, River Birch, Mimosa, Chinaberry, Chinese Tallow, Camphor tree and White Poplar.

Approval for tree removal can be obtained by submitting a request online through our website.  There are separate forms for requesting tree removal on lots with an existing structure and requesting tree removal associated with any type of construction (new home, renovation, addition, pool, shed, etc.).  

Residential tree removal on lots with an existing structure are reviewed and approved by the Department of Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods. Beginning February 1, 2023, the tree removal company must come in person to the Business License Office to update their business license and pick up the tree removal permit.  Additionally, the tree removal permit must be clearly displayed on site in an obvious and noticeable location, such as a window or storm door, for review during the tree removal process.  Pursuant to §156.226 and  §156.231of the Mount Pleasant Code of Ordinances, removal of any trees without approval and a permit displayed will result in a fine to both the homeowner AND the tree removal company.  Please contact the Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods office if you have any questions at or by calling 843-884-1229.  

Removal of a tree associated with any type of construction is approved during the building permit approval process by the Building Inspections Office. You can contact the Building Inspections Office at 843-884-5184 if you have any questions regarding the building permit application process.

A vision corridor is a vertical area cut through the vegetated buffer, allowing a view and access to wetlands, tidelands, and beach systems and requires approval from our Engineering and Development Services Department.  Contact Engineering and Development Services Department at 843-856-3080 if you have any questions.

existing structure tree remova request Opens in new windowResidential tree mitigation list Opens in new windownew const tree removal request Opens in new windowprovisions for tree removal Opens in new windowVision Corridor application Opens in new window

Tree Mitigation

The amount of required tree replacement will be based on the tree species, quality of the tree being removed, and the use of the property (residential or commercial). The chart below shows the tree replacement requirements as outlined in section 156.225.

tree replacement table

Mitigation can be completed by either planting the entire number of mitigation inches on the property, planting a portion of the mitigation inches on the property and paying into the Tree Bank for the remaining inches required, or paying into the Tree Bank for all of the mitigation inches required. Replacement trees must be one of the species provided in the Town canopy tree list found in section 156.201(G)(1) of the Town of Mount Pleasant Code of Ordinances accessible online.

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I have a tree on my property that is not in good condition, will the Town evaluate the tree?

No, Town staff is not able to provide consultations or evaluations for trees.  If you wish the tree to be removed and it is a protected species and size, a request can be made online through our website to request the removal.  

What is a critical line and critical line buffer?

A critical line delineates the boundaries of coastal waters, tidelands, and beach systems.  A critical line buffer is a vegetated area, including trees, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation, which exists or is established to protect a stream system, lake, reservoir or coastal estuarine area to minimize the potentially harmful effects of development or agriculture on adjacent waterways and prevent non-point source pollution.  

There is a tree in the right-of-way that needs to be trimmed.
Report low-lying tree limbs to the
Public Services Department.