Tree Care Guidance & Resources

Sheila Murray-Belisle, Toronto Island Community


Pruning removes dead and dying branches, allowing room for new, healthy growth and protecting the surrounding area from damage. It also deters pest and animal infestations.

The best time to trim trees is late fall to early spring. Be careful of trimming in early spring if the tree or shrub flowers early (e.g. forsythia) or that set its buds in the previous fall (e.g. magnolias and rhododendrons) as you don’t want to cut off flower buds.

Common mistakes include topping: cutting branches off the top of the tree or tipping: trimming the ends off of branches. Cutting too many branches from one side can make the tree look disproportionate and awkward.

Every time you cut into a tree you are making an injury to the tree. These open wounds can allow pests and other organisms into the tree that can cause infections. Trees can become weakened on the inside even when they look okay on the outside. When this happens, these infested areas of the trees are more susceptible to break during weather events such as strong winds or ice storms.

Soil health

Soil is a critical factor when caring for trees or considering planting a tree. While the loose, sandy soil of the Island makes it easier to dig holes and to grow many plants, it is also less capable of holding large trees upright.

The sand allows for the land to ‘slump’ after holes are dug and trees are planted, and erosion during flooding or heavy rain can also be a concern. If the level of the tree slumps below the surrounding soil, water can collect. In winter this water will freeze, and then thaw on warmer days. This freeze-thaw cycle is very stressful for trees and results in numerous stressed-out urban trees in Toronto.

Be sure to research what soil your new tree will thrive in and amend your soil accordingly.

Tree removal

A permit is required to remove, cut down, or in any way injure a tree with a diameter of 30cm or more (approx. thickness of a telephone pole) on private property. You must hire an arborist to examine the tree and write a report as to why the tree should be removed

A tree that is dead, terminally diseased or imminently hazardous does not require a permit to remove it, however you must send a detailed arborist report and receive approval from Urban Forestry before proceeding with any tree work or removal. The fee for these permits and application can be removed if the applicant is low-income. See the City of Toronto website for more details

Recommended arborists and tree care companies:

We Care Tree Care  647-238-1328

Tyler Ganton  [email protected]

Services include pruning, tree removals, arborist reports, on-site milling, stump grinding, and tree planting.

White Glove Tree Service  416-920-3838

Jon Stoller

Services include pruning, tree removals, arborist reports, on-site milling, stump grinding, storm damage clean up, and firewood delivery.

Central Tree Care Ltd.  416-285 4750

Mike Spencley [email protected]

Forbes Telfer, pest specialist

A larger company whose primary work is pruning and tree removal. Services include consulting/permits and arborist reports, stump grinding, cabling and bracing (installation of steel cables between major limbs), deep root fertilization, and pest management. They are licensed to remove trees growing into hydro lines.

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