The Public Works Department is raising awareness to encourage Austinites to lend a hand in clearing vegetative obstructions in an effort to create safe and accessible paths (streets, sidewalks, trails, and alleyways) for all users in the public right-of-way. The goal of the campaign is to help educate property owners of their responsibility in keeping the public right-of-way clear of excessive vegetation that is obstructing a pathway. By doing so, the City will increase the functionality of sidewalks, streets, and alleys; and increase safety for all users. People with mobility and vision impairments or distracted users might not be able to pass by the overgrown vegetative barrier. Learn more: Download brochure
What are vegetative obstructions?
Vegetative obstructions include overgrown trees, plants, shrubs, grass, or any other vegetation that hinder or prevent use of the public right-of-way. Overgrown vegetation is a safety hazard and limits the accessibility and visibility of users.
What does the “public right-of-way” mean?
Part of the land in the City of Austin is dedicated as “public right-of-way” for streets, sidewalks, alleys, utilities, and other public uses. The right-of-way typically extends 10 feet back from the edge of a street, but can vary widely across the city.
What is a property owner’s responsibility?
Many residents don’t know it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain plants, grass, weeds, and private trees that overhang in the public right-of-way.
Property owners are responsible for maintaining non-public trees and all other vegetation in the public right-of-way adjacent to their property. The City is responsible for maintaining public trees and vegetation within medians. Designated public right-of-way areas, such as streets and sidewalks, are for everyone’s use. Your cooperation is needed! Please prune your trees and trim or remove any vegetation that is obstructing or overgrowing the user zone and pathway of sidewalks, streets, alleys, and multi-use trails.
The pedestrian zone or sidewalk pathway (edge of sidewalk, from the surface to 8 feet above sidewalk), the active transportation zone or multi-use trail pathway (edge of trail, from the surface to 8 feet above trail), and the street or alley corridor (curbline or edge of street or alley, from the surface to 14 feet above street or alley) should be completely clear of overhanging and protruding vegetation.
What is the difference between a public tree and a private tree?
The Public Works Department maintains trees in the right-of-way, also known as “public trees.” A public tree has at least two-thirds of its trunk diameter in the public right-of-way. Property owners are responsible for maintaining private trees and all other vegetation on their property to the edge of the street or alley.
How can I help keep the public right-of-way safe?
Your safety is our primary concern. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself and our City crews safe around town:
- Sidewalks: Keep tree limbs and vegetation trimmed back from the edge of the sidewalk for a clear pathway and at least 8 feet above sidewalks.
- Streets/Alleys: Keep tree limbs and vegetation trimmed back from the curbline (edge of street or alley) and at least 14 feet above streets or alleys (measured at the curbline).
- Multi-use Trails: Keep tree limbs and vegetation trimmed back from the edge of and at least 8 feet above multi-use trails.
- Grass and Weeds: Keep grass and weeds cut back from the edge of the sidewalk, street, alley, or trail. Maintain grass and weeds at a maximum height of 12 inches throughout property.
- Corner Lots: Maintain vegetation at a maximum of 2 feet above ground within a 10 foot setback from the curbline (edge of street) and 40 feet along the curbline from the street intersection.
- Fire Hydrants: Keep trees, plants, or limbs at least 5 feet away from fire hydrants.
- General: Trim or remove vegetation blocking signal lights, traffic and pedestrian signs.
Does City Code restrict overgrown vegetation?
It is a violation of City Code to allow vegetation to overgrow or obstruct the public right-of-way. In addition, the City of Austin Sidewalk Master Plan and ADA Transition Plan identifies overgrown vegetation and trees as an accessibility barrier for people with disabilities, making it noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How do I care for and prune a tree?
Proper pruning practices can help maintain good tree health. Visit www.treesaregood.com for more information about pruning, tree health, and to find an ISA Certified Arborist.
What is Oak Wilt?
Oak Wilt is one of the most destructive tree diseases in central Texas. All oak trees are susceptible to oak wilt. However, there are steps that limit susceptibility (i.e., paint pruning cuts and wounds immediately after pruning, prune oaks in the coldest and hottest months of the year, properly dispose of diseased red oak firewood and debris, sanitize pruning equipment between trees). For more information about oak wilt, visit www.texasoakwilt.org.
How can I report overgrown vegetation or right-of-way obstructions?
To report overgrown vegetation or obstructions in the public right-of-way, call Austin 3-1-1 (512-974-2000) or visit Austin 3-1-1 online at www.austintexas.gov/department/311. You can also download the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app here.