Trees and Forestry

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. We encourage you to plant trees on your property too!

In 2021, as part of the Climate Action Plan, a Tree Planting Grant Program was also approved by City Council and included in the capital plan.

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 three Forestry Technicians who inspect trees and create work orders for both City arborists/crews as well as contracted forestry crews. The Davey Tree Expert Company is currently on contract for the hydro maintenance work.

There are three maintenance programs for tree safety:

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. 

Tree by-laws

The City has the following tree bylaws:

Trees on private property

Learn more about the City's Private Tree By-law  that 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:

  • property designated as a protected woodlot
  • wetland
  • heritage area
  • where rare or protected species exist

Completed applications can be emailed to Parks and Recreation staff for review. Please call 519-759-4150 if you have any questions or concerns about your application.

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.

References

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

Estimates

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
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
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.

Mulch

We don't like to waste and are happy to share the mulch from our tree and stump removals. You can pick up as much free mulch as you need between April and November. It is available on a first-come-first-serve basis. There may not be any available from time to time. Please note that we do not place mulch behind any gates. View pick-up locations below.

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

Mulching is one of the most beneficial practices a homeowner can do 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

General forest management plan

Completed in 2010 the General Forest Management Plan  is a guiding document for the sustainable management of forests on City land. Many open spaces, natural areas and woodlands are home to native plants and animals that add to the ecological diversity of Brantford. Forestry Services strive to work with the public to ensure that these areas are protected and enhanced for future generations.

Pest Management

European gypsy moth
The European Gypsy Moth is a non-native defoliating insect that feeds on a variety of tree species found in southern Ontario. In Brantford and surrounding areas, the European gypsy moth can be problematic in forested areas with oak dominant communities such as Mohawk Park. Learn more about the European Gypsy Moth control measures.