What are the rules and by-laws for planting trees on my property?

November 30, 2014

There are guidelines to follow when planting trees that protect you, your neighbour and the environment. Do you knowwhat the rules and by-laws are for planting trees on your property?
Why do we need to regulate the trees we plant?

Certain restrictions apply even when planting trees on private property. Regulations are intended to help:

  • Prevent avoidable damage to certain structures as the tree grows near houses, power lines and sidewalks
  • Maintain good neighbour relations
  • Protect air quality and purity of groundwater supplies
  • Ensure road safety

Where can I find all these rules?

Most cities and municipalities usually set their own rules and by-laws. However, some municipalities don’t have any for tree planting. Instead, they rely on the owner’s ability to be considerate and respectful of their neighbours.

  • Before planting or even choosing a tree, first visit your city’s website and make sure you understand the rules and how they apply. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Buying and planting a tree is a long-term investment. Planting a tree will increase the value of your home. That's why it’s important to commit to maintaining a tree throughout its lifespan, which begins with planting it properly.

Examples of rules

Examples of tree-related rules that may apply in your area:

  • A tree should be planted on properties of all newly-built homes.
  • Trees planted must be at least three metres away from streets and fire hydrants.
  • Some large trees—such as willows, poplars and silver maples—must be planted at least 15 metres away from all buildings and infrastructure.
  • Hedges in the front yard may not exceed more than two metres in height.
  • Some cities require a permit before planting a tree.
  • Certain species of trees are prohibited due to risk of disease or to conserve the ecological diversity of an area.
  • Newly-planted trees must not affect highway visibility or hide street signs.
  • Planted trees must not cause damage to neighboring properties, presently or in the future.


Municipalities and cities often encourage citizens to grow trees by offering incentives and grants for planting and maintenance.

  • Some municipalities even give trees away to new home owners as a welcome gift.

Your responsibility

Keep in mind that you're responsible for your own trees and any damage they may cause. That includes knowing what are the municipal rules and by-laws for planting trees on your property.What's more:

  • You must maintain your trees so as to not disturb your neighbours.
  • Even if your neighbour's tree intrudes on your property, you don’t have the right to cut its branches. Instead, politely ask your neighbour to trim the tree. In case of a dispute, use a mediator to resolve the issue amicably.
What are the rules and by-laws for planting trees on my property?
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