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Tree pruning

Tree pruning

The City owns over 330,000 street and park trees and works hard to keep them healthy.

Why does the City prune trees?

  • to promote good health
  • insects and disease control  
  • remove potential safety hazards
  • for vehicle and pedestrian clearances
  • to reduce storm damage from high winds, snow, and freezing rain
  • for streetlights, buildings, and utilities

When and how are trees pruned?

The City prunes trees routinely according to species, age and, in some cases, location and uses different types of pruning:

  • Crown cleaning is the removal of dead, dying, diseased, crowded, weakly attached and low-vigour branches from the crown of a tree.
  • Crown thinning is the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown. Thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, reduces water intake, and helps retain the tree's natural shape.
  • Crown raising removes the lower branches from a tree in order to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians and sight lines
  • Crown reduction reduces the size of a tree, to make room for utility lines. Reducing the height or spread of a tree is best accomplished by pruning back the leaders and branch terminals to lateral branches that are large enough to assume the terminal roles. This method maintains the form and structural integrity of the tree.
  • Crown restoration removes damaged limbs to restore an appropriate stable form to the tree. This is often necessary following storm damage.

Why does the tree look so different after pruning?

After being pruned, a tree might look rather bare. It will begin to look normal during the next growing season, with a healthier and more attractive form and structure.

Will the City prune my trees?

The City will only prune trees on City property, such as the City owned portion of the roadway, in front and at the side of residential lots and City parks.

How you can help:

  • Water the tree during dry spells (see Watering Your Tree)
  • Monitor the tree's condition and reporting to the City any disease, damage or infestations
  • Limit construction near the roots of the tree – at least 10 centimetres away from the trunk for every centimetre of trunk diameter. (see the City of Ottawa's Tree Protection Guidelines)
  • Many herbicides or weed killers that are used on grass can cause severe damage to trees when misapplied. This can occur on windy days, causing the drift to fall on non-target plants, or on hot days when the herbicide may vaporize and diffuse into the air. While most herbicides do not kill tree roots, some chemicals, such as soil sterilants, will have a detrimental effect on growth. Herbicides that can cause tree damage should have statements on their labels warning against using the product near trees.
  • Keep in mind, the property values of landscaped homes are 5 to 20 per cent higher than those without plants.

Should you require additional information on tree pruning, please call 3-1-1.

Request brush or wood pickup after City tree maintenance activity

IMPORTANT: To report an immediate hazard to people or property, call 3-1-1. 

After clearing, pruning and other tree maintenance activities, City staff pile branches and wood for pickup. Nearby residents are advised that this pickup will occur within 2-3 business days.

If the city hasn’t picked up trimmings 3 business days after they completed their work:

Submit a request for brush or wood pickup