Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can you prune or remove trees in the winter?
  2. Can you make my tree smaller?
  3. When do you fertilize?
  4. When do you spray?
  5. How do you prune/remove the tree?
  6. What does “stump grinding” mean?
  7. What type of arborist report do I need?
  8. Does my tree need a permit to remove?
  9. Do you provide free estimates?
  10. Do you take care of the permit process?

Can you prune or remove trees in the winter?

Winter is a great time to prune or remove trees:

  • Trees are dormant over the winter, so pruning wounds will only be exposed until new growth begins in spring.
  • There are fewer diseases present to enter wounds.
  • Tree structure is more visible in the winter, making it easier to see and attend to potential problems.
  • Under storey plants are less exposed to damage
  • Frozen ground makes it easier to remove large sections of wood

Back to top


Can you make my tree smaller?

Pruning a tree to make it smaller (known also as “topping”), particularly a large growing tree, is ill-advised and should never be done except in a few cases where it is necessary to preserve the tree.  Topping a tree causes an immediate serious injury by removing too much live growth, and creates long term health and structural problems.  If a tree is in good structural condition, it should not need to be made smaller.

An exception is when a tree contains structural defects (splits, cavities, poor unions) that could be corrected by reducing the overall size of the crown.  Done correctly, a “crown reduction” type of pruning could add years to the life of a valued tree.

Back to top


When do you fertilize?

Fertilizing can be done at any time the ground thaws sufficiently to enable a fertilizer probe to be put into the soil.  Generally this will be from April to October.  We do not fertilize in the later summer in order to avoid forcing new growth in trees that may not harden before winter.

Back to top


When do you spray?

In order to be effective, pesticide applications need to be done when the pest being treated is present and vulnerable on the tree.  Most foliar diseases, for example, are treated early in spring when diseases are moving around via wind and rain and are able to attack emerging leaves.  Applications for foliar diseases are therefore most effective during and immediately following bud break.  For many insect pests, we use phenology to determine the correct timing of pesticide applications.  Phenology is the study of plant and animal life cycles and their interaction with annual seasonal and climatic variations.  For example, we treat eastern tent caterpillars each year when buds on magnolia trees turn pink, even if the timing is slightly different in relation to the calendar year due to fluctuations in temperature and sunlight.

Back to top


How do you prune/remove the tree?

There are several ways tree pruning or removal can occur, and the method used will depend on circumstances that include the tree’s condition, species and location.   Cranes and bucket trucks are sometimes used, but the overwhelming majority of tree work is conducted by climbers using specialized climbing and rigging equipment.  Climbers access the tree, secure themselves, and use rigging lines to safely lower limbs and wood.

Back to top


What does “stump grinding” mean?

Stump grinding refers to a method of stump removal where a stumping machine is used to grind a stump to fine wood chips.  The stump is that portion of the tree that remains visible when a tree is removed to ground level.

Back to top


What type of arborist report do I need?

There are several types of arborist reports and the type you need depends on your circumstances.

  • Tree inventories are reports that identify trees, usually protected trees, on or near a specific lot.  Typically such trees are identified on a survey.  Tree inventories identify a tree by number, and include species, size, and condition.  Various municipalities may require additional information such as the by-law under which a tree may be protected, or a tree’s value.
  • Tree assessments are reports that detail the species, size, health and structure of a tree.  Tree assessments are typically required by municipalities as part of an application for a permit to injure or remove a protected tree.
  • Tree valuations are reports that detail the approximate dollar value of a tree.  Tree valuations are normally required in insurance or court cases where trees have been injured or removed without the owner’s consent.  Tree valuation reports may also be required by a municipality for construction areas where protected trees are located.
  • Tree preservation plans are reports usually required by municipalities and created by arborists for the purpose of preserving trees during development or construction activities.  Tree preservation plans include tree inventories, assessments and sometimes valuations.  Tree preservation plans identify all protected trees on the affected site, outline trees to be removed and trees to be retained, and detail the measures to be implemented during the construction process that will ensure the preservation of appropriate trees.

Back to top


Does my tree need a permit to remove?

Most municipalities in the GTA now require property owners to obtain permits before injuring or removing protected trees.  Trees are protected under various types of by-laws, including those protecting trees on private property, in or near ravines and other natural features, heritage trees, and trees located on municipal lands.  It is best to check with your municipality to obtain the most current information regarding protected trees.

Back to top


Do you provide free estimates?

Estimates within the area Ontree services are free.  However, there may be a fee involved if a diagnosis or assessment is required.

Back to top


Do you take care of the permit process?

The process of obtaining a permit to injure or remove a tree varies in each municipality and our participation in the process varies depending on circumstances.  Generally, once we receive your approval to proceed, we will send you the relevant application and instructions.  Here are the requirements for some of the more common municipalities we service:

The City of Toronto

Trees located on private property that are 30 cm. diameter at breast height or greater are protected and require a permit to remove or injure.  Applications for a permit to remove or injure protected trees require the following:

  • Completed application form.
  • Arborist report completed by a certified arborist.
  • Fee of $102.65 per tree or $307.08 per tree if removal or injury is for construction purposes.  Fees must be paid by certified cheque or money order and are payable to “The Treasurer of the City of Toronto”.
  • Tree replacement plan which must include:
  • Quantity of replacement trees (1 – 4 depending on circumstances)
  • Species (generally large growing native deciduous shade trees)
  • Size at time of planting (caliper in millimeters)
  • Location of planting (can be anywhere on the property – include hand drawn map)
  • Timing of planting (e.g. “fall 2015”)

Trees of any size located in a designated ravine are also protected.  The process for obtaining a permit for trees protected under the ravine tree by-law is the same as above except there is no application fee and the replacement ratio is generally 3:1.

City of Toronto By-Law Info & Permit Application

Town of Richmond Hill:

Trees located on private property that are 20 cm. diameter at breast height or greater are protected and require a permit to remove or injure.  Applications for a permit to remove or injure protected trees require the following:

  • Completed application form.
  • Arborist report completed by a certified arborist.
  • Fee of $150.00, plus $50.00 for each additional tree to a maximum of $400 (cheque payable to “The Town of Richmond Hill”).

The City of Vaughan:

Trees located on private property that are 20 cm. diameter at breast height or greater, or that have a base diameter of 20 cm. or greater, are protected and require a permit to remove or injure.  Applications for a permit to remove or injure protected trees require the following:

  • Completed application form.
  • Arborist report completed by a certified arborist.
  • Drawing of the lot showing location of trees to be destroyed or injured.
  • Two photos of the tree showing close up of tree, and tree in proportion to lot.
  • Fee of $100.00 per tree, plus $50.00 for each additional tree (to be paid following issuing of permit).  Cheques are payable to “The City of Vaughan, Tree Permit Section”.
  • Tree replacement plan

Town of Markham:

Trees located on private property that are 20 cm. diameter at breast height or greater are protected and require a permit to remove or injure.  Applications for a permit to remove or injure protected trees require the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Fee of $200.00 for the first tree, and $100.00 for each additional tree

Back to top

Contact Ontree Today for a FREE Estimate.
Call 416-412-2100 or fill out our FREE Estimate Form