Can You Cut Down a Saguaro In Your Yard?

If you live in Arizona and there’s saguaro cactus on your property, you’re not allowed to cut it down. If you get caught cutting down saguaro cacti, it’s considered a felony criminal damage charge.

how to legally remove a saguaro cactus

You may be thinking that it’s your property and you can do whatever you want. While that is true, there are some restrictions. If you want a saguaro cactus removed from your property, you can’t just cut it down. You’ll need to contact Arizona Department of Agriculture to have the cactus removed.

Keep reading to find out what the law is about saguaros in Arizona and what to do if you have one you would like removed. 

Is It Illegal To Remove a Saguaro Cactus?

Yes, it is against the law to remove a saguaro cactus in Arizona. If you are caught cutting one down you will likely see felony charges and could get up to 25 years in prison. Thieves see less time behind bars than people who try to remove these native plants.

Can I cut down a saguaro in my yard? It’s still illegal if the cactus is in your yard. This doesn’t mean you can’t have the saguaro cactus removed though. If you want to have it removed from your property, you must contact the Arizona Department of Agriculture for removal.

Even if the saguaro cactus has fallen over or begun to die, you can not take care of the removal yourself.  According to Arizona native plant law, it is a felony.

Why Are Saguaro Cactus Protected?

Many municipalities across the United States have laws in place that protect their native plants, even if they are on private land. This is why it’s illegal to remove saguaro cacti across many states. One of the main reasons that saguaro cacti are protected is that they take so long to grow.

In most cases, if a saguaro cactus plant is left alone it will grow between 150 and 200 years. The greatest threat to their lifespan is created by humans, which is why Arizona native plant law treats their removal like a felony.

Another reason why the saguaro cactus is protected is that it’s difficult to grow new ones. Although there are many throughout the Sonoran desert, the ones on people’s properties are rare. A cactus plant must be treated differently than a tree because it’s not easy to replant them.

While a tree could be replanted right away, in most cases it will take several decades for a saguaro to grow back.

What If The Saguaro Cactus Fell Over Naturally?

In some cases, the plant may fall over on its own. Some people have had saguaros fall over on their own after a storm. This sometimes happens at Saguaro National Park, and they still recommend contacting the Arizona Department of Agriculture for safe removal.

The team at National Park Service are experienced at removing saguaros safely, which is something that most people are not familiar with. A saguaro is a lot larger than an ornamental barrel cactus, so they present a much greater risk for removal.

If the saguaro has completely fallen over on its own, it’s not illegal to remove it. However, it’s not safe, which is why you should contact the department of agriculture for help.

How To Legally Remove A Saguaro Cactus From Your Yard

If there’s a giant saguaro that looks out of place in your Tucson yard, then you can still legally have it removed. Simply contact the Arizona Department of Agriculture and they will tag the saguaro for removal. They will then place the permit to have the cactus removed. 

Accidents do happen, and if you cut the cactus out of a sheer mistake the penalties could be on the lighter side. However, it’s important to know that most law professionals in Arizona do take this plant very seriously. If a judge decides to give you the full penalty, you could be behind bars for a long time.


If you’re new to Arizona, you may not realize that cacti have different laws surrounding them than trees do. Even homeowners can not legally remove saguaros from their yard on their own. The only exception is if they have already died from natural causes. Even if they are in the process of dying, you still must contact the state.

Saguaros are protected by the law because these native plants are one of a kind to Arizona. They could take up to 200 years to fully grow, and causing them harm could interrupt or put a halt to that long process. Since humans are the biggest threat to saguaros, there are very strict laws revolving around them.

In the event that a human does cut a saguaro cactus (even if it’s on their land) they will be looking at felony charges.

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