The City of Toronto maintains trees located on City-managed lands by carrying out inspections, pruning, and removing trees when necessary. City-owned trees include those found in parks as well as over 600,000 street trees located on the portion of land between the roadway and private property, known as the public road allowance. This work keeps residents safe and supports a healthy and resilient urban forest that includes trees on streets and in parks.

Residents can contact 311 if a City street tree or park tree requires maintenance. If a City-owned tree has fallen or poses a hazard to pedestrians or traffic, call 311 or submit an online request for emergency clean-Up.

City-owned Trees

The City of Toronto owns and is responsible for the maintenance of trees on City property.

Tree ownership on City property is based on the location of the base of the tree trunk, where the tree grows out of the ground. Anomalies such as burls or swelling are not to be included in the measurement of tree location.

The distance of the City road allowances from the curb is different for each property. This measurement is generally taken from the curb line towards your property line.

Where ownership of a tree is in question, the City may request that the resident submit a certified survey of the property; this survey will indicate the measurement from the home toward the property line and street curb. If you don’t have a survey of your property, you can contact 311 to determine ownership of the tree.

Private Trees

Trees located on private property are the responsibility of the property owner and maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner. The City does not perform maintenance work nor provide funding for tree maintenance work on privately owned trees.

A permit is not required to prune and maintain a private tree following good arboricultural practices. If you need to injure or remove a private tree that is 30 cm or larger in diameter – for example, because it conflicts with a construction project – a permit will be required.

Where private trees impact public lands, the City may prune privately owned trees according to proper arboricultural standards to clear tree limbs and branches interfering with street lighting, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, utility conductors and any City-owned pathway or publicly used roadway. An inspection card outlining the planned tree maintenance work will be left at the private property address before carrying out the work.

Dangerous Private Trees

Maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner. If you believe a tree or part of a tree, situated on a neighbouring property is at risk of falling, you should stay away from the area and immediately advise the property owner so that they may take the required action to address the situation. Contacting the City for inspection should be considered as a last resort to address hazardous situations.

City staff will investigate concerns of dangerous trees or branches on private property. Where staff confirm that a tree poses an immediate danger to persons or property, the property owner and occupant will be advised and an Order to Comply to correct the immediate danger will be issued.

To report dangerous trees or branches on private property contact 311 or initiate an online service request.

Boundary Trees

The City is responsible for all trees growing on City-owned land, such as city road allowance and parks. In situations where the tree is growing close to a property line shared between the City and the private property owner, the maintenance responsibility is determined by the location of the base of the tree.

If more than 50 per cent of the tree’s base is on private property, it is the private property owner’s responsibility to maintain the tree. If the tree is more than 50 per cent on the City road allowance, it is the City’s responsibility to maintain the tree.

Where the property line is not clearly marked, City staff may request the resident to submit a certified survey of the property. If a survey is not available, City staff will use an approximate measurement from the curb line to the property line. This measurement is based on the City’s property data maps available on our mapping application.

With consent from the property owner, the City of Toronto may prune or otherwise maintain trees whose base touches the street line but are situated more than 50 per cent on private property. The City will determine whether your private tree is considered a boundary tree with the City.

From thunderstorms and windstorms in summer to heavy snow and ice storms in winter, extreme weather events can result in damage to trees. In some cases, these broken or fallen trees or branches can create a hazard that needs to be addressed right away.

A City tree that is an imminent hazard should be reported by contacting 311 or creating an online request.

If you believe you have sustained damage to your property related to a fallen City-owned tree or limb, you can file a claim against the City of Toronto. The City of Toronto is not automatically responsible for damage. Claims of this type are governed by many factors and there may not be any liability on the part of the City. It is recommended that you contact your insurance company for advice on how to deal with your loss. For further details on what to consider when making a claim, visit Fallen Trees and Branch Damage Claims.

All work performed on City-owned trees must be authorized by the City of Toronto.

Tree Pruning

Pruning of City trees will be completed according to good arboricultural standards and only if it is deemed necessary by the City.

Download Tree Pruning Guidelines.

According to good arboricultural standards, pruning is performed to:

  • encourage the health of a tree
  • clear tree limbs and branches interfering with structures, street lighting, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, utility conductors and traffic signals or signs
  • to encourage the natural form of the tree species
  • remove dead broken or split limbs
  • maintain structural stability and balance of a tree

Tree pruning is not performed to:

  • improve scenic views
  • clear sightlines for store signs or security cameras
  • increase sunlight for gardens, lawns, swimming pools, solar panels, patios, etc.
  • manage property maintenance – falling pine needles, falling fruit, etc.

Tree Removal

The City is only authorized to remove trees when the tree is dead, structurally hazardous or no longer viable to be maintained in a healthy and/or safe condition.

If the removal of a City-owned tree is not deemed necessary by the City and you still want it removed, you may submit an Application to Injure or Destroy Trees. The City will review the application and if it does not meet the criteria for removal under the Tree By-laws, the application will be denied. For more information on the tree application and review process, visit Tree and Ravine Protection. There are fees associated with submitting this application.

Tree Removal Process

The City manages multiple crew types, operating various equipment to perform diverse sets of tasks. The City schedules the removal of City trees in the following stages:

  1. Topping: the removal of all branches and limbs that can be processed on-site while leaving the main stem and larger sections of branches
  2. Stemming: removal of the main stem and larger sections of branches that remain after topping; topping and stemming usually take place at the same time and include debris removal.
  3. Stumping: grinding of the stump below ground level
  4. Fill and Seed: this process involves the removal of loose stump material from the stump grinding activity, filling the cavity with topsoil and the application of grass seed; this may be done at the same time as stumping.
  5. Replanting: mandatory replacement planting will be scheduled in the next appropriate season depending on the species chosen and its availability. Once a tree is planted, mulch (wood chips) is placed around the base of a newly planted tree. The mulch helps keep string trimmers and lawnmowers away from the base of the tree and helps to retain moisture in the soil for successful new tree growth.

Every City-owned tree that is removed is required to be replaced with a new tree, where site conditions allow.

The City will collect all tree debris following tree maintenance work. Crews cannot leave wood for property owners.

Private Work on City Trees

To expedite non-emergency tree maintenance work on City-owned trees in front of your residence, you can apply for permission to hire a contractor at your expense. Submit an ‘Application for Arborists Retained by Private Property Owners to Undertake Work on City Trees.’ The City will review the application and may approve the request if the proposed work complies with the City’s pruning standards.

To complete your application, the following documents are required:

Once a service request is created, the City will perform a tree inspection. An inspection card outlining the inspector’s findings will be left with the owner of the property closest to the inspected tree. This inspection card will include a description of the planned tree work –  for example, general tree pruning.

Tree maintenance work is prioritized based on safety hazards, requirements for road clearing and the need to assist Toronto Hydro in clearing power outages resulting from damaged trees. The City will complete inspections and associated work within the designated Parks according to Forestry Customer Service Standards.

To request an update on the status of a request or planned tree maintenance work, contact 311.

Toronto Hydro and Hydro One undertake pruning of trees away from electrical wires to prevent contact between the street trees and the electrical wires which could result in power failures and possibly allow electricity to flow to the ground. Pruning by utility companies should be done following good arboriculture practices.

To request the clearing of branches on or near electrical lines that run parallel to the road, please contact Toronto Hydro.

Toronto Hydro will inspect for an imminent threat to public safety or equipment reliability and complete work as required. Non-urgent requests will be handled in the regular maintenance cycle for City trees.

The City of Toronto prioritizes proactive street tree maintenance through the Area Street Tree Maintenance (ASTM) program. Forestry crews inspect and maintain all City-owned street trees within designated areas, employing an efficient, neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood approach. This proactive strategy improves long-term tree health, reduces risk, and ensures up-to-date information on City trees.

The ASTM program aims to transition from request-based to systematic maintenance, with a goal of pruning all City-owned street trees approximately once every seven years.

This preventative approach offers benefits such as smaller pruning wounds, enhanced tree structure, and increased lifespan, helping trees withstand stress from wind, ice and rain.

Daily, tree maintenance crews will encounter parked vehicles interfering with the completion of their work. Performing tree maintenance on the City’s street trees requires access on roadways for multiple large vehicles, equipment and machinery. Vehicles legally parked on the street in front of street trees often cause service delays for forestry crews. Whenever possible, crews will try and contact the resident to have the vehicle moved, however situation can result in the need to relocate parked vehicles to gain proper access.

In densely populated areas with a high percentage of street parking, including permitted street parking, you may see temporary onsite signage indicating that tree maintenance work has been scheduled for the area. Do not park in the work zone between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the date noted. Vehicles may be towed to the closest legal parking location.