Frequently Asked Questions about trees and Tree Canada

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— General questions —

How can I determine if a tree on my property is an endangered species? If it is, can I still cut it down?

Endangered trees are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and any complementary provincial legislation. In general, endangered species cannot be destroyed. Contact a registered professional forester or certified arborist to determine if your tree is endangered. The Species at Risk Public Registry site may also be helpful in identifying endangered trees.

Why should I plant native trees?

Planting native tree species helps to protect or re-establish an ecosystem to its original state. If native species are currently growing or once grew in a particular area, they should not have any issues with re-establishment or growth and are more likely to thrive than non-native species. Non-native species can disrupt the local environment through cross-pollination and invasiveness in some cases. Native species also provide a natural habitat for native wildlife.

I believe my tree has been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. What should I do?

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive species of beetle that is highly destructive to ash trees. Native to Asia, it was first found in North America in 2002 in Michigan and southwestern Ontario. It is believed that EAB was first brought to North America in ash wood used in shipping pallets. Since its introduction to North America, EAB has been spread mostly by humans unknowingly moving infested wood, in the form of logs or firewood, into un-infested areas.

The most obvious sign of EAB is a sudden decline in the health of your ash tree, and the presence of distinct D-shaped exit holes. The prognosis is best determined on-site by a registered professional forester or a certified arborist.

Visit our Tree Killers page for more information and images on invasive plants, insects, and diseases.

I want to plant trees that are native to where I live, but I don’t know which ones are native and which are not. Where can I find a list of native trees?

You can find a list of trees that grow in Canada, including native species, on our Trees of Canada web page. This information can also be found based on your region’s hardiness zone, or by contacting a nursery or garden centre in your area.

I want to plant a tree to commemorate my relative who has passed away. Can you help?

Yes, a tribute certificate can be issued in commemoration of your loved one with a minimum $50 donation to Tree Canada.

— Questions about Tree Canada —

Is Tree Canada a registered charitable organization?

Yes, Tree Canada’s charitable number is: #137708509 RR0001. Our legal name is Tree Canada / Arbres Canada. You can verify our charitable status on the Canada Revenue Agency’s listing of charities.

Does Tree Canada hire people to plant trees (i.e. student tree planters)?

Yes, but not directly as employees or staff. Over 90% of our trees are planted by professional tree planters. Tree Canada hires planting companies to plant its rural tree seedlings through a tender process.

Tree Canada’s urban trees are planted by municipal staff, grant recipients such as schools and community groups, and volunteers through our Partners in Planting program.

I’m interested in buying merchandise that used to be available on the Tree Canada website. Can I still buy that merchandise?

Please send us an email at info@treecanada.ca or call us at 613-567-5545 ex. 226 with any questions about Tree Canada merchandise.

Where does Tree Canada’s funding come from?

Tree Canada is grateful to have many corporate partners. We also receive donations from individuals to help us implement our programs. If you are interested in donating to Tree Canada, contact us!

Does Tree Canada fund projects on private property?

In some cases, yes. For example, our Operation ReLeaf programs often involve residential planting to restore trees that have been lost due to natural disasters. In general, though, our programs are directed towards public (municipal, school boards) and Indigenous lands.

Will I get a charitable tax receipt when I donate to Tree Canada?

Yes, you will automatically receive a receipt for income tax purposes when you make a donation of $25 or more. Please contact our development team directly with any questions.

— Questions about tree planting and tree maintenance —

When is the best time to plant a tree?

In Canada, there are generally two seasons for tree planting: spring (April-June) and fall (September-October). However, in some locations (such as Victoria, BC) the seasons can be greatly extended, while in others (such as Edmonton, AB) the seasons can be greatly reduced.

The best time to plant your tree will also depend on the species, soil type, and growing stock of the tree in general. For example, one should avoid planting seedlings in clay soils in the fall due to the risk of frost heaving in the winter.
You can learn more by reading A Guide to Community Tree Planting.

How can I make sure that the soil is good for tree-planting?

If your soil is sandy or full of clay, make sure to mix in plenty of compost before planting. If you’re on a new property or near areas that have seen recent construction, you will need to dig into your topsoil. Construction in new subdivisions removes much of the topsoil, and not much of it is replaced. Make sure to dig compost into the area surrounding the tree, as when the tree gets bigger its roots will need to spread out!

Should I tie a stake to my young tree?

There’s no need to tie a stake if the tree has been well planted. In fact, allowing the tree to sway will help it to develop stronger tissues. Staking may be helpful to stabilize a tree if it reaches more than 2 metres and is still relatively young.

How can I tell if my tree is unhealthy?

Signs of disease will be visible to the naked eye. If leaves are discoloured, browning, or unusually curled; if the tree is experiencing defoliation; if the branch tips are wilting, then your tree might be diseased. Water and nutrients are the first step to remedying this, but if problems persist then consult a tree expert. If only certain branches are diseased, you can prune out the infected branches. Make sure to remove them from your yard since pathogens can enter your soil and return to the tree or move to other plants.

Should I re-apply mulch after it has decomposed?

Yes! Try to maintain two to three inches of mulch around the base of the tree, without touching the trunk. The insulating effect of mulch will help the tree to survive during winter and slow the rate at which your soil will dry out during the summer.

When is it safe to prune a tree?

For the first three years after planting, you should avoid pruning a tree unless branches become dead or diseased. After about four years, if any branches are rubbing against each other, you can remove the rubbing branches. Pruning can also promote a more balanced look and even growth of new branches. Make sure the tools you use are sharp and clean, and don’t use wound paint to heal the wound – trees can heal on their own.

I’m seeing a lot of insects on my tree. What should I do?

Many insects are beneficial and play a vital role in your yard’s ecosystem, so be sure to identify the insect before removing it. If the insect is a pest and harming your tree, there are many options for controlling it. See our Tree Killers web page or consult a local tree expert.

What kind of tree should I plant?

First, evaluate the conditions of the soil, sunlight, and water in your yard. Most trees need certain conditions to grow and be healthy. You can consult our list of native trees or learn more by reading A Guide to Community Tree Planting.

Where should I plant a tree?

When looking for the best spot in your yard for that new tree, keep in mind a few basic points:

  • Avoid placing trees underneath overhead wires.
  • Make sure to leave space around the tree so that grown-up roots won’t interfere with infrastructures, fences, house foundations, or other trees.
  • Similarly, make sure that young trees are well-spaced so they don’t crowd each other as they mature. A good rule of thumb is 2 metres between each tree.
  • You may want to plant a tree near areas where you anticipate wanting shade in the summertime – where kids are playing, or where you like to sit outside.
  • Finally, make sure that trees are located at least 2 metres away from hard surfaces like patio stones or driveways.

To learn more about the “Right Tree Right Place” idea, you can also watch our series of three instructional videos.

How do I actually plant a tree?

View our Tree Planting Guide for step-by-step instructions, or watch our series of three instructional videos.

How often should I water a newly planted tree?

During the first 2-3 years of your tree’s life, it is very important to keep it hydrated. If it isn’t raining often, water the tree with three bucketsful of water, or with a hose on a slow trickle for 15 to 20 minutes, twice a week. You can also check the soil before watering — it should always be slightly damp. If water is pooling around the tree or the soil is extremely wet after watering, you are likely overwatering and should water less frequently.