Trees are a precious natural resource. They benefit our environment while beautifying our homes and properties. We work to protect and manage this valuable community resource so we can all enjoy a beautiful community full of trees.

On this page:

  1. About tree conservation and management
  2. Tree removal
  3. Trees on private property
  4. Trees on public property
  5. Invasive species
  6. Our urban forest

About tree conservation and management

Our approach to tree conservation and management is guided by these documents:

Visit the International Society of Arboriculture's website to learn about:

  • benefits of trees
  • how to properly care for trees in the urban environment

Tree removal

Choose the situation that applies to you:

Removing or pruning a tree on a private property

You may need a tree conservation permit to remove a tree from a property that is larger than 0.405 hectares or one acre.

You do not need a permit for:

  • removing trees that are less than 10 cm in diameter at chest height
  • removing dead, diseased or hazardous trees when certified as such by an individual designated or approved by our director of planning
  • removing damaged or destroyed tree when certified as such by an individual designated or approved by our director of planning, where the removal is in the interest of public safety, health or general welfare following any man-made or natural disasters, storms, high winds, floods, fires, snowfall or freezes
  • removing trees located within five metres (16.4 feet) of an occupied building
  • when a building permit has already been issued for the work

pruning a tree, as long as the pruning is done in a manner that does not harm the tree

If you’re not sure if you need a permit, send us an email.

Request a permit

Follow these steps to request a tree conservation permit:

  1. download the application form
  2. complete the application form and collect the required materials (listed below)
  3. send the application form and required materials to staff by email

Your application must include:

  • a fully completed application form
  • a copy of a detailed plan or survey
  • payment of the required fee
  • written consent from adjacent property owners if trees straddle a property line (if applicable)

If all the trees you’re removing are dead, dying or hazardous, contact our planning division to see if you need a permit.

Removing trees during development

When removing trees as part of the development of a piece of land, we will need:

  • a general vegetation overview
  • a detailed vegetation plan or tree preservation plan

You must include these documents in your development application.

Trees on private property

Find information about trees on private property:

Backyard tree planting program

Do you want to add a new tree to your backyard? We're working with Reep Green Solutions to plant trees in backyards at a reduced price.

The backyard tree planting program includes:

  • personalized property consultation
  • one or two native trees
  • delivery and full planting service
  • care and maintenance guide

Learn more and apply on Reep's website.

Property standards

We do not get involved in disputes between neighbours about overhanging branches or tree maintenance. For information about the property standards that are enforced, please visit our property standards page.

Trees on public property

Find information about trees on public property:

City-owned trees

Trees located within road rights-of-way, boulevards and parks are city-owned. Caring for and removing those trees is our responsibility. Damaging or removing these trees can result in criminal charges.

If you’re unsure if a tree is ours, call us at 519-741-2345 or send us an email.

Open the accordions below to learn about our service levels for different types of public tree maintenance.

Tree maintenance
Arborists are working year-round to maintain and prune our trees. We are working to establish a proactive block pruning program where we can prune each street every 7 to 10 years.
Tree removals
If we need to remove a tree because it is a risk or hazard to the public, we will remove the tree as soon as possible. We will try to make contact with the neighbouring property owner to make them aware. In some cases where trees are larger, we will remove the branches, or crown, of the tree first, and the stem remains standing until we can remove it later with other specialized equipment.
Stump removals
After we remove a tree, the next step is to remove the stump. This typically occurs the year after tree removal or, in some cases, within the same year.
Tree planting
If the area where the stump is removed can fit a new tree, we will plant a replacement tree. Our goal is to plant the replacement tree within two years of the removal of the original tree, but this timeline can vary. Our team will select the replacement species of tree based on various factors and considerations though in some cases due to site factors like utility lines, or limited space, we may be unable to replant in the same boulevard location.

Request a tree on public property

Do you want to add a tree to your neighbourhood or on the boulevard in front of your home? Submit your request through our online form or call 519-741-2345. If we can plant a tree in your preferred location, we’ll let you know and add the tree to an upcoming tree planting season.

Structural pruning

Our forestry staff do structural pruning on city trees to help them grow into healthy, mature trees. Structural pruning helps increase tree health, longevity and resiliency to climate change.

In forests, trees develop a strong branch structure because they grow near each other. The shade created by other trees limits the growth of lower limbs. In the city, where there are a lot of single trees, the amount of sunlight lets them grow competing branches. This type of tree structure is vulnerable to breakage and can reduce the tree’s life expectancy. Trees with one dominant stem and well-spaced branches are more likely to thrive for a long time.

After we do structural pruning, the trees will have fewer branches and look less full. This is a part of the process and is not a cause for concern. Pruning happens over years and helps develop a strong, resilient branch structure.

Tree safety issues

If you have a concern or question about a city tree, please call us at 519-741-2345 or send us an email. We specifically want to know about tree risk issues, including dead or dangerous-looking trees or other safety issues.

Invasive species

Invasive species, including emerald ash borers and spongy moths, threaten the health of our urban forest. Our strategy gives direction for monitoring, preventing and managing the impacts of invasive species.

For more information, visit the Grand River Conservation Authority page about invasive species or get involved by mapping and reporting invasive species in Ontario through the EDD Maps Program.

Our urban forest

Check out our urban forest map to see upcoming and ongoing forestry work around the city. We’re using this map to share information about tree planting, street tree pruning, tree removals and more.

Open the urban forest map

During street tree pruning work, we may need to do emergency tree removals for public safety reasons. In these cases, we cannot provide advanced notice to nearby residents.

Chandler Mowat tree canopy

We're working with Reep Green Solutions on an pilot project to increase the tree canopy in the Chandler Mowat neighbourhood. This neighbourhood has low canopy coverage when compared to Kitchener’s average. The project will support new tree planting on private and public property, and maintain existing trees across the neighbourhood. It is funded by the Green Communities Canada (GCC)’s Living Cities Fund.

Visit our Engage Kitchener page to learn more and get involved.