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Pruning Trees

Are you wondering if you can prune that tree? The first step is to find out whether the tree is on City property, your property, or your neighbour’s property. Launch COSMOS, our online mapping system, to find out.

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Trees on City Property

Trees on City property, including trees in your neighbourhood and along boulevards, are pruned and maintained by our arborists on a schedule. The cutting of City trees on city property is regulated by the City's bylaw to protect trees. Do not prune trees on City property.

Contact Parks at 604-501-5050 to find out about pruning City trees on the boulevard near your home.

Trees on Your Property

You need a Tree Cutting Permit to prune your tree if your tree is a:

  • Significant Tree - a tree that has been placed on Schedule B of the Tree Protection Bylaw as being significant as deemed or approved by Council
  • Heritage Tree - a tree that has been nominated by the Heritage Advisory Committee and approved by Council

You do not need a Tree Cutting Permit if your tree is:

  • Not a Significant or Heritage Tree

Pruning a significant tree without a permit could result in a fine of up to $10,000.

Topping a tree is not a permitted practice in the City of Surrey.

Trees on Your Neighbour’s Property

You are within your rights to trim back branches on neighbouring trees to the property line as long as they are pruned to industry standards and do not damage, kill or make the tree hazardous.

Any arrangements made regarding carrying out the work or payment is a civil matter that needs to be worked out between neighbours. The City is not able to get involved in these matters.

How to Prune a Tree

Do Not Top Your Trees

Topping is harmful to trees and is not a permitted practice on protected trees within the City of Surrey. Other names for topping are heading, tipping, hat-racking or rounding over. When you top a tree, you are removing a large amount of branches and leaves and are cutting the food supply from the tree. The tree goes into shock and quickly sprouts shoots to grow leaves so it won’t starve. This stress often weakens the tree, increasing the chance of insect infestation, disease infection or even death.

If you feel your tree is too large or a risk for your property, contact an arborist for alternatives to topping.

Read more about the dangers of topping your trees.

Hiring an Arborist to Prune Your Trees

To ensure your tree is pruned properly, hire an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified arborist or qualified tree risk assessor to do the pruning for you.

When looking for an arborist, it is important to ask if the person is ISA certified, has insurance, and are familiar with the City's bylaws. Read our hiring a tree care professional bulletin to learn more.

Large Branch & Woody Plant Material Removal

For assistance in removing large branches and woody plant material from your property, there are branch chipping services available for Surrey Residents.

Service details:

  • Cost: $25 per 1.5 meters x 1.5 meters (5ft x 5 ft) pile (length of branches does not matter)
  • Branch Diameter: less than 20 centimetres (8") in diameter
  • No stumps are permitted

Please contact 604-591-4340 for further information.

Pruning Trees Yourself

If you wish to prune your trees yourself, your pruning must meet arboricultural standards. Learn about proper pruning techniques.

Related Content

Removing Trees

Find out how to apply for a tree cutting permit and the requirements to remove a tree in Surrey.

Planting Trees

Plant a tree in your yard, grab a tree voucher, or join the Releaf Planting team.