Tree Care & Health

Trees are great for our City and you. Trees make our neighborhoods more beautiful, provide shade and air quality benefits, provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife, and improve our well-being by lowering stress levels and helping create a sense of community spirit. 

Residents have an important role to play in caring for and promoting the health of trees in our community. This includes trees on their own property and on public land including boulevards and parks. Basic knowledge of proper tree care is important for the health of all trees in our community.

By following a few basic tips, you can help keep trees in our community happy, healthy, and beautiful. 


Planting trees can provide shade and insulation for your home, increase your property value, and make your neighbourhood more livable.

It’s important to choose the right tree for your property, and to plant it properly to keep it healthy and increase its chance of survival. We recommend following the International Society of Arboriculture guidelines on selecting the right tree and steps for planting trees

Call Before You Dig! Before planting a new tree on your property, you need to identify if there are any utilities (i.e. gas, water, sewer, electric) below ground. Learn more on the BC 1 Call website or call 1-800-474-6886 to find out. 

Please note that planting trees on City property is not allowed. To ask the City to plant a tree on public property, including boulevards and parks, submit a service request online or call 604-983-7333. If you're interested in planting trees on public property, you can join in on a community planting day with the City Park Stewards


Mulch is any material that is spread over the surface of soil and used for a covering. A tree’s own leaves are a great natural option for mulch. Other natural options include bark or compost. 

Adding mulch to the area around the base of the tree helps keep the soil moist. Mulch also helps keep weeds away and prevents lawn tools, like line trimmers, from accidentally hitting the trunk.

We recommend following the International Society of Arboriculture guidelines on proper mulching techniques (PDF).


During the summer months, residents are encouraged to water trees on their property regularly to keep them healthy. Lack of water results in underdeveloped trees or trees that are vulnerable to pests and diseases. The key to watering trees is to water them slowly and allow the water to soak deep into the soil with no runoff.

During the summer, water young trees at least once a week and twice a week during prolonged drought periods for at least 10 minutes in the morning or evening. For newly planted trees, soak the root ball directly under the tree and about a meter around the root ball to encourage root growth. 

Mature trees need water too. Mature trees have a more developed root system and soak up water at their drip line (the tree's outermost edge or where rain would drip off of their longest branches) where their roots are. Water mature trees with a slow-running hose twice a week for about 15 minutes.

When watering mature trees, avoid watering at the base of the trunk. Instead, soak the soil around the outer third of the tree’s canopy and about a meter past the tree’s drip line. You can also use a soaker hose around the drip line of the tree. Check soil conditions prior to watering to ensure you are not overwatering your tree, which can lead to root rot and diseases.

Please note that during the summer months, regional water restrictions don't apply to trees and shrubs, but always remember to be water-wise. Aim to water in the evenings and early mornings when it is less hot. 

Help Water City Trees

Residents are invited to help water trees on public property. Many street trees have a green watering bag at their base. Once filled, the water slowly releases through small holes in the bag. If a street tree near your home has a watering bag, you can help by filling it with water twice per week. 

If there's no watering bag, you can still help by watering the tree – 10 minutes for small trees and 15 minutes for mature trees, once or twice a week. 

City staff person watering a street tree bag


Regular pruning and removing of any dead wood helps maintain the health of trees on your property. We recommend following the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) guidelines on pruning trees or use an ISA-certified arborist or tree care professional to undertake tree work on your property.

Before undertaking any tree work on your property, make sure you are following all tree cutting conditions for your property type and obtain a tree cutting permit, if required. Learn more at

If the trunk of the tree is located partially outside your property limit, you must obtain written permission from the neighbouring property owner before cutting the tree. This includes trees partially located on City property. For more information about trees on City property, visit

Please do not undertake any work, including pruning, on trees outside of your property. To ask the City to plant, inspect, or maintain a tree on public property, including in boulevards and parks, submit a service request online or call 604-983-7333. If you have concerns about your neighbours' trees, visit for more information. 


Do Not Top Trees

Tree topping is the cutting and removal of healthy tree branches, often to reduce a tree’s height. Please do not top trees as it weakens the tree structurally and can lead to increased tree hazards, stress and decay, and destroys the natural form of the tree. 

An arborist or qualified tree care professional can advise on proper techniques to prune and reduce the size of trees. Learn more about Tree Topping (PDF).

Insects and Disease

Insects and diseases can threaten tree health. Environmental stresses, such as drought, saturated or compacted soils, lack of nutrients, and pollution can make trees more susceptible to certain insects and diseases. We recommend you contact an arborist or qualified tree care professional if you notice anything abnormal on the foliage, branches, or bark of your tree. These professionals can help identify the problem and propose a treatment. Learn more about identifying insect and disease problems (PDF).

Common Tree Pests

Common tree pests on the North Shore include the western hemlock looper and aphids. 

Western Hemlock Looper 

The Western Hemlock Looper is a moth that causes severe defoliation, particularly of Western Hemlock, Western Red cedar, and Douglas Fir trees. This defoliation sometimes causes trees to die. 

There is currently an outbreak of Western Hemlock Looper on the North Shore, which occurs on average every 20+ years. This event is part of a natural ecosystem cycle, and the best approach is to let nature run its course. The City is monitoring all impacted trees on public land, and will remove any hazard trees. 

Property owners with trees impacted by this outbreak are encouraged to have an arborist or qualified tree care professional inspect trees for damage and potential hazards.  


Aphids are tiny green bugs that sit on the undersides of tree leaves eating sap. Their waste is known as honeydew, and you might notice it in the summer as a sticky film on your car or sidewalk. Honeydew is not harmful to people or property and the aphids won't cause any health problems for the tree. The City manages aphid infestations through an integrated pest management approach, which includes the release of beneficial predatory insects. 

There are also easy steps owners can take to manage aphid infestations on their property, including spraying the underside of impacted leaves with water. Learn more about managing aphid infestations (PDF).


Contact Us

Questions about trees on City property? Visit or email

Questions about trees on private property? Visit or email

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