Tree Maintenance

Tree Maintenance Policies

An urban forest is the public property of all residents, and is managed as a public resource. The Parks Division regulates all planting, pruning and removal of trees in the public easement. This includes parkways (the space between the sidewalk and the curb) where most trees are located.

In some neighborhoods, the sidewalk is adjacent to the curb, and the easement is situated in the area between the house and the sidewalk. Residents must obtain a permit to plant, prune or remove a tree located in a parkway or easement. There is no charge for this permit.

A row of trees in the median of two roads.

Tree Pruning Management Plan

The City of Ventura Urban Forestry Program is responsible for the pruning and maintenance of the City’s 30,000 public trees through a management plan that calls for pruning most or all of the trees within the city’s 24 pruning zones over a six-year period.

Based upon staffing, funding and specific tree needs, yearly and long-term work plans are being developed with the goals of:

  • Pruning most or all of the trees within a given geographic region or zone
  • Targeting a specific number of zones for pruning each year
  • For a targeted zone-pruning cycle of 6 years

While it is our goal to prune all public trees, especially residential trees, within that 6-year cycle, there may be years where extenuating circumstances require recalculated decisions that could alter the length of time between pruning cycles.

Tree Removal

Have questions regarding whether or not the public tree in front of your home is a candidate for removal? If so please review our Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) for answers to most of the common tree removal questions our office receives.

Citywide Indian Laurel Fig Tree Removal Program

The City of Ventura's Urban Forestry Program is beginning its third year of actively reducing the population of Indian Laurel fig trees from the City's Urban Forest. The challenges with these trees have been well documented and the City is committed to removing and replacing these problematic trees with a more appropriate tree species. View Citywide Indian Laurel Fig Tree Removal FAQs (PDF).

Tree Replacement

Some tree species such as Ficus and Olive create problems that are unacceptable to many residents. These species are being evaluated for replacement on a street-by-street basis. As these trees are removed, new species will be planted that are more compatible with the streetscape.

Trees will be located to avoid underground and overhead utility lines. Each street will continue to have an approved tree species, and trees will be varied across the City to help reduce the severity of disease outbreaks.

Trees & Drought

Trees and water are two of our most precious natural resources. When we water wisely and maintain our trees carefully, we enjoy a wide range of benefits at a low cost and with little effort.


Mulching is easily one of the simplest and most efficient ways to help conserve water during a drought. The benefits of mulching are actually significant enough to warrant use in the landscape all of the time. Mulching both plants and trees is considered an industry best management practice.

Mulch comes in many different types, but our favorites are compost, leaves, and wood chips. Mulch should be applied to areas where turf is not present or has been removed. Mulch should be applied at a depth of 3 - 4 inches to the area desired. For trees the larger the area that you can mulch under the drip line (the width of the trees canopy) the better.

Mulch helps to insulate the soil reducing the amount of water that is lost to the atmosphere through a process known as transpiration. This insulating effect also helps to maximum the water you are using in the landscape and its availability to plants. Over time mulch breaks down into organic matter which slowly works its way into the soil.

This process greatly improves soil quality, including soil porosity which further helps to increase the efficiency of your watering. Mulching also helps to suppress weed growth that keeps the landscape looking more finished and prevents weeds from competing with our trees and plants for water.

Free mulch is available to Ventura residents at the Cornucopia Community Gardens.

Oakworms & Oak Trees

Oak trees are a fundamental part of the wild and urban landscape in much of coastal California. This brochure intends to educate residents about the oakworm caterpillar (Phryganidia californica) and its effect on our local oak trees.

The Oakworm

The oakworm is a native pest to our Coast Live Oak and other oak species in Ventura. Tree damage caused by them generally appears far worse than it is. The caterpillars can reach up to 1-1/4” in length with yellow stripes down their backs. Their heads are dark brown to red. The moths are brown to gray and, while active, can be found by shaking a low limb. Usually, you see them at dusk and dawn fluttering below and within the canopy.


Young oakworms feed on the soft underside of leaves and skeletonize the entire leaf as they digest the thicker leaf material. While rarely fatal to trees, oakworms can cause aesthetic issues when they defoliate trees or caterpillars congregate on outdoor surfaces like walls and patio furniture. A healthy oak tree can withstand defoliation by using locally stored energy to regrow leaves after the attack. Unhealthy trees can lose limbs or become susceptible to other serious issues. The frequency of infestation is highly irregular, but after a heavy outbreak, the tree will often be free of caterpillars for several years. It’s important to remember that the oakworm is a native pest and plays a role in the local ecosystem by feeding a host of birds and insects. The role of oakworms in our environment should be considered before any tree treatments are performed.

Steps to Take

Identifying the problem is the first step in taking action regarding pests in trees or around the house. Keep in mind that these oaks can have other issues that look similar to the oakworm. Homeowners commonly misdiagnose pumpkin gall and even defoliation from root rot as an oakworm attack, and the consequences can be dramatically different. If you suspect you have oakworms in your tree, first speak with an arborist to determine your tree’s health, especially if they are near structures or commonly used outdoor areas. When the tree is within the City of Ventura’s right of way, please call 805-667-6519 to report any issue. When the tree is on private property, many qualified arborists can be found by viewing the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) website at


Treatment methods range from bacterial options to systemic injections and traditional insecticide sprays. A professional arborist can help determine the best option for your tree based on the infestation stage, damage threshold, and local environmental concerns. The most important things to remember are:

  • Infestations are rarely fatal to the tree.
  • Most trees are not affected every year.
  • A certified arborist should do diagnosis and treatment.

Download this information as a brochure.