Arborist pruning a small branch

Learn if you need a permit to prune trees, and how to prune your trees without damaging them.

Trees on City Property

Do not cut trees on City property. Trees on City property, including trees in parks and along streets, are pruned and maintained by certified arborists (licensed professionals) on a schedule. The cutting of trees on City property is regulated by Surrey's Tree Protection Bylaw.

Don't know if your tree is on City property?

Use our online mapping tool COSMOS to find out whether the tree is on City property, your property, or your neighbour’s property. Watch instructional tutorials to learn how to use COSMOS.

You can request pruning of City trees. For more help figuring out whether a tree can be pruned or not, call 604-501-5050 to speak to a City arborist.   

    Trees on Your Property

    You need a Tree Cutting Permit to prune your tree if your tree is a Significant or Heritage Tree. You do not need a Tree Cutting Permit to prune a tree if your tree is not a Significant or Heritage Tree.

    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

    Pruning a Significant or Heritage Tree without a permit could result in a fine of up to $20,000.

    Hiring an Arborist to Prune Your Trees

    The City highly recommends that you hire a certified professional.

    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 is familiar with the City's bylaws. Read our hiring a tree care professional bulletin to learn more.

    Pruning Your Own Trees

    Pruning must follow sound arboriculture practice. If you prune your trees yourself, your pruning must meet arboricultural standards. 

    When pruning in the spring and summer, bird nests could be hidden among the branches. Take extra care to ensure you are not disturbing any nesting birds. Learn about proper pruning techniques.

    The following is not permitted:

    • removal of branches in the upper 50% of the total height of the protected tree;
    • removal of more than 25% of the protected tree's total branches or limbs; and
    • topping of a protected tree, other than topping carried out under an issued tree cutting permit.
    Dangers of Topping Your Trees

    Topping harms trees. Topping is not a permitted practice on protected trees within the City of Surrey.

    Topping is the removal of the top of the central stem of a tree and the upper main branches. 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. Other names for topping are heading, tipping, hat-racking or rounding over. 

    If your tree has been previously topped and now requires subsequent topping, a permit is required. Please contact for more details about topping trees in Surrey.


    Topped Trees
    Topping is not a permitted practice on protected trees within the City of Surrey.
    Large Branch & Woody Plant Material Removal

    Surrey residents have access to branch and woody plant material chipping and pickup services:

    • Cost: $26.75 per 1.5 metres x 1.5 metres (5 feet x 5 feet) pile. The 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 more information.

    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.

    Learn more about Trees on Neighbouring Properties.


    Additional Resources


    Trees on private property | 604-591-4675 

    Trees on City property | 604-501-5050