Leave tree, weed trims up to the experts

I take a daily walk down one of the busiest streets in Medford, and it's getting increasingly hard because of the trees hanging over the sidewalks. Everybody walking by has to stoop to get past some landscaping that homeowners should trim back. Would it be illegal for me to carry my trimmers and cut down those huge weeds and tree limbs that stick out? They pose such a threat to eyeballs and the bees on the branches could get angry? — Jennifer J., Medford

So you want to become the Edward Scissorhands of Medford, Jennifer? It may sound like a good idea to hack away at those annoying plants, but the city of Medford's arborist, Bill Harrington, doesn't recommend it. Different courts have had all sorts of rulings on who is responsible for maintaining plants, so it would be better to leave it up to the experts rather than risk a civil dispute, Harrington says.

Some of the taller members of the Since You Asked Traveling Basketball Team have noticed similar issues with tree limbs and were gratified to find out that there is a city rule intended to keep pedestrians from being impaled. According to Medford's codes, trees should be trimmed 10 feet above sidewalks and 15 feet above streets.

In some cases, it might be possible to contact the adjacent homeowner or business owner to suggest low-hanging branches be trimmed, but Harrington notes that even the property owner might not be responsible. In some cases, the owner is responsible; in other cases, it's the city. The best option is to call Harrington if you spot a problem and he'll check it out. His number is 774-2690.

Harrington says while it might seem like common sense to just whack off a few low-hanging limbs, some trees would not respond well and could be damaged or even die.

Harrington says if you call him, he will contact the property owners to get the situation resolved. "I'm happy to take code-enforcement action," he said. "But I like to educate rather than enforce."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Share This Story