Tree Maintenance

Urban Forestry Operations

Toronto skyline rises above the green forest canopy of the Don Valley.

Urban Forestry maintains 4.1 million trees on public property, which includes an estimated 3.5 million trees within Toronto's parks and ravines, and approximately 600,000 trees on City streets.

Urban forester tree trimming from areial bucket truckOn average, Urban Forestry responds to more than 80,000 requests for tree maintenance annually. Hazards are assessed on a priority basis and are eliminated to maintain public safety.

Prior to 2009, maintenance of the city's street trees had largely been done on a reactive basis whereby trees were maintained in response to requests by members of the public.  However, reactive maintenance is not efficient and does not adequately meet public expectations.  This type of service also reduces the opportunity to perform corrective pruning or other preventative maintenance activities, resulting in more frequent storm breaks and shortened tree life spans.

The focus of our maintenance service is shifting progressively from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance.  A proactive maintenance approach has been used by the Urban Forestry branch since 2009.  Proactive maintenance allows Urban Forestry to assess the areas in need and conduct necessary tree maintenance on all trees as needed by neighbourhood in a more systematic way, and on a regular cycle.  This approach has been shown to be more efficient, result in well maintained trees, reduce the risk of tree failure, reduce complaints and improve customer service.

Tree pruning by urban forestry staff

Urban Forestry ensures that the City's trees are cared for according to best arboricultural practices and standards.   Effective pruning is critical to maintaining healthy tree structure.  Early pruning to correct branch habit will significantly reduce the need for pruning later in the tree’s life and will reduce decay, extending the longevity of the tree. Better branch structure also reduces the vulnerability of trees to storm damage, something which is particularly important with increasing wind velocities and storm intensities associated with climate change.

Tree pruning is also conducted to maintain sightlines and ensure public safety.   This may include pruning to maintain clearances near roadways, sidewalks, directional signs and street lights.  Urban Forestry does not prune City trees to improve scenic views, to obtain uninterrupted paths for signals or satellite dishes, to increase light to swimming pools, solar panels, patios, lawns or gardens. 

Pruning encourages good health and natural form of the tree.  All of Toronto's trees should be cared for and maintained!  For more information on City-owned tree pruning, review the City of Toronto's Tree By-Law Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813.

If you need to have a City-owned tree pruned, you can submit a request online of by phone.

Online: request service button 

By phone: call 311

Please note, this request is only for the City-owned trees. Tree care for privately-owned trees is the responsibility of the private land owner. Review why you should hire an arborist to care for your trees.

City owned tree that has been topped and scheduled for removal.

Urban Forestry removes City trees that are dead, structurally hazardous or no longer viable to maintain in a healthy and safe condition. In some commercial street locations where trees have been planted in tree pits, raised beds or containers along sidewalks and medians, removal begins with trees being "topped".  A topped tree means that all the branches and top half of the trunk are removed, leaving only a 1.5 - 2 metre portion of the trunk in place.  This technique allows Urban Forestry to extract the entire root system, which assists in the replanting process.   Urban Forestry replaces all removed trees with new trees. 

If you need to remove a dead or dying City tree, you can submit a request online of by phone:

Online: Online service request button

By phone: call 311

Did you know?

311 logoIf a City owned street tree or park tree is in need of maintenance, please call 311 Toronto or visit toronto.ca/311 to request a tree maintenance inspection. Following inclement weather, such as high winds, service times for inspections and/or maintenance may be delayed.