Trees and Forestry

Trees on City property

Preserving trees is an important part the environmental health of our City. The recently updated City Tree Protection By-law (38-2023) sets standards to help ensure that City trees are able to grow and thrive.

  • Did You Know? Older, larger trees sequester more carbon than smaller, younger trees.
  • Did You Know? Boulevard trees are planted and maintained by the City.

Prohibited activities

There are several activities which can harm the health of a tree, as well as its ability to grow properly. Under the City Tree Protection By-law (38-2023) , the following actions are prohibited:

  • Attaching any object, structure, or animal to a tree on City property (such as signs/posters, hammocks, pet leashes, swings, etc.)
  • Disposing of or storing any construction debris around the trunk of a tree on City property
  • Applying any fertilizer, pest control, or any substance other than water to a tree on City property
  • Pruning or removing any part of a tree on City property

Tree Inventory Project

An inventory of trees on City property will be taking place from fall 2023 to spring 2024. The purpose of this work is to create a digital record of all City owned trees. This will help the City in future planning to continue to maintain the beneficial urban forest canopy across Brantford. Contracted, certified arborists will be measuring and assessing the health of our trees.

Tree planting

Forestry Services plant approximately 500 trees per year along streets and in parks. A wide variety of tree species and sizes are chosen to suit each location - depending on soil type, sun/shade, wind, drought, salt tolerance and space available (narrow traffic median vs. expansive turf areas in parks). It's our goal that every home in Brantford has at least one municipal tree to increase the City’s tree canopy coverage. 

Tree maintenance

Forestry Services are responsible for all trees on City property and tree maintenance work is organized and undertaken in priority order, with the goal of maintaining safe conditions for residents. Trees along the roadway and in proximity to hydro lines require more oversight than trees in parks and woodlands. Forestry staff includes Forestry Technicians who inspect trees and create work orders for both City arborists/crews as well as contracted forestry crews. 

Tree safety services

Hydro maintenance

Through the Electrical Safety Authority of Ontario and the Ontario Electricity Act, all trees in proximity to hydro lines are regularly pruned for required clearances. Different power lines (high voltage primary lines vs. low voltage secondary service lines) have different clearance requirements.

It can take a few years to cycle through the city and prune every tree for hydro clearances. This is an integral component of providing Brantford with a reliable supply of the electricity we all depend on.

Emerald Ash Borer removal
We remove all ash trees from City streets and parks because of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). An EAB is an invasive beetle that feeds on and destroys ash trees. We've removed almost all ash trees and will continue replanting and stumping over the next few years. We will also be looking at ash tree removals in woodlots and natural areas where they may pose a risk to trails, private property and/or buildings. Trees needing removal are marked with orange paint. Learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer.
Work orders
Work orders respond to needs from residents concerning trees. Call us or email us  if you have any of the following concerns regarding trees:
  • safety
  • dead branches
  • a dead tree
  • low branches
  • bug or disease problems
  • requests for a new tree

If we can't solve your problem over the phone or by email, we will make a work order so a certified arborist can inspect the situation. We inspect work orders in priority sequence. 

Construction around City trees

If construction is happening around a tree on City property, please contact the City for how staff can work with you to ensure the tree is protected from possible construction-related damage.

Tree bylaws

The City has the following tree bylaws:

Trees on private property

We encourage you to plant trees on your property too!

In support of the 2022 Community Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), an annual Free Tree Giveaway Program celebrates Earth Day by giving away free trees to residents of Brantford.

The City's Private Tree By-law  protects certain rare species and a few woodlots on private property. Brantford has 11 rare species and 32 protected woodlots. 

An Application to Remove Trees on Private Property is required if you wish to complete tree work under the following conditions.

  • The property is designated as a protected woodlot, wetland, or heritage area
  • The property contains rare or protected species 

For questions or to submit your completed application, please email or give us a call at 519-759-4150.

When to hire an arborist

When branches reach too high overhead and are difficult to trim it may be time to seek professional help. There are several guides we suggest in helping find an arborist:

Check for an Arborist Certification

The International Society of Arboriculture runs tests to skilled experts covering all aspects of tree care.  Visit the International Society of Arboriculture website for info on why hiring a certified Arborist is important.

Ask for proof of insurance

You can phone an insurance company listed on the document to confirm the accuracy of the insurance policy.


Ask for local references doing similar work to what you are looking to do. Also ask if they are members in a professional organization.


We suggest a minimum of three estimates to make sure you're getting the right price. When choosing an arborist, weigh the credentials, references, and quality of workmanship you can expect from each estimate.

Be careful of door-to-door sales for tree pruning or removal

Most decent tree service companies are too busy to ask work this way.  Wrong or poor quality tree work can take years to correct itself, if at all. 

Tree stumps and pegs

Pegs are standing trunks of a large tree that we've partially removed. The trunks are stable and left at a height below the lowest set of power lines because they do not pose a risk. We remove pegs based on the date of the tree removal, oldest to newest.
Stumps are removed between the spring and fall seasons, when sod is available. If you have sprouts growing on the stump, please feel free to trim them off with hand pruners or loppers. We do not allow the use of power tools on City property. Due to the Emerald Ash Borer and high volume of ash tree removals, we currently have a higher volume of stumps.


The City offers free mulch from their tree and stump removals between April and November. Availability is on a first-come-first-served basis and may not be available at all times. Mulch is not placed behind any gates. Pick-up locations include:

  • Cockshutt Park (35 Sherwood Drive), located behind Arnold Anderson Stadium along the parking lot
  • Public Works (10 Earl Avenue), located to the left prior to the parking lot 

Mulching is one of the most beneficial practices for the health of a tree. Unlike trees growing in a natural forest environment, urban trees are typically growing in harsher environments with infertile soils, lower organic matter, and large fluctuations in soil temperature. Many benefits of mulching include:

  • Improve soil fertility by providing nutrients to trees
  • Suppress weed germination and growth
  • Retain soil moisture and regulate soil temperature (insulation effect)
  • Improve soil structure, aeration, and drainage over time
  • Reduce soil compaction and prevent soil erosion
  • Reduce the likelihood of tree damage from lawn mower

Improper mulching, such as over-mulching or volcano mulching, can kill trees. Hazards of incorrect mulching include:

  • Bark decay/rot due to excessive moisture
  • Poor root development (girdling)
  • Insect or disease issues
  • Reduced penetration of water and air
Proper mulching 
  • Root flare is visible at the base of the tree.
  • Mulch extends wide and flat under the canopy.

Proper Mulching



Improper mulching
  • Root flare is buried by excessive mulch.
  • Mulch piled high up against the trunk.
  • Mulch layer is too deep, over four inches.
Improper Mulching
How to properly mulch a tree
  • Do not pile up mulch against the trunk. Mulch should be pulled away from the trunk.
  • Expose the base (root flare) of the tree. Do not let mulch touch the bark. This allows the tree to breathe. 
  • Make the shape of a flat doughnut.
  • Spread wide to cover the whole area under the tree (dripline). For newly planted trees, spread at least three feet across. 
  • The maximum depth of the ring is three to four inches.

Properly much a tree