Frequently Asked Questions about trees and Tree Canada

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— General questions —

I think there is something wrong with my tree. Can you help?

Diagnosing tree problems from afar is difficult, but with our staff of professional foresters, we can try to help. To do this we need:

  • A photo of your tree and the affected areas (bark, leaves, etc.)
  • A description of where it is situated (near the road, beside a house, etc.). We need to know about any physical or environmental factors that could negatively affect the tree, such as the nearest use of road salt
  • What municipality and province you are in
  • How long the problem has been present and what measures have been taken to correct it

Having these will make it easier for us to potentially diagnose what might be wrong with it, or to point you to the proper resources.

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) as well as the complementary provincial legislation. In general, endangered species cannot be destroyed. To determine if you have an endangered tree, contact a registered professional forester or certified arborist. 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 the ecosystem to remain or to re-establish its original state. Since 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 exotic species. Additionally, native species 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. For more information about EAB, visit our Emerald Ash Borer page.

The most obvious sign of Emerald Ash Borer is a sudden decline in the health of your ash tree, as well as the presence of distinct D-shaped exit holes. The prognosis is best determined by an on-site analysis 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 some trees that are native to where I live, but I don’t know which trees are native and which are not. Where can I find a list of trees that are native to my area?

You can find a list of trees that grow in Canada, including native species, on our Trees of Canada web page.

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

Yes, with a minimum donation to Tree Canada of $50.00, a tribute certificate can be made in commemoration of your loved one.

— 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—over 90% of the trees that Tree Canada plants are planted by professional tree planters. The other 10% are planted by company and family volunteers. Tree Canada hires planting companies to plant its rural tree seedlings through a tender process. Its urban trees are planted through municipalities and sometimes volunteers. If you are interested in tree planting, check out websites like Tree Planter or Hardcore Tree Planters.

I am interested in buying some merchandise that you were selling previously, but it no longer appears 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 our merchandise.

Where does Tree Canada’s funding come from?

Tree Canada is grateful to have many corporate sponsors and supporters. 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, utilities) and First Nations lands.

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

Yes. You will automatically receive a tax 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?

The best time to plant a tree depends on where the tree is being planted, the species of tree, the soil type, and the type of growing stock of the tree in general. You can learn more by reading A Guide to Community Tree Planting.
In general, the optimal seasons for tree planting are in the 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 Whitehorse, Yukon) the seasons can be greatly reduced. Some types of growing stock, such as large trees moved by a tree spade, can by transplanted throughout the summer with proper watering. Containerized trees can be planted later in the spring and early summer. Some species of trees that exhibit long periods of root growth (such as birch and oak) should not be transplanted in the fall. Avoid planting seedlings in the clay soils in the fall, because the seedlings may be prone to frost heaving in the winter. Planting these same seedlings in the spring allows the tree to spread its roots, minimizing frost heaving.

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

How often should I water a newly planted tree?

Make sure to water your tree often. About three buckets full of water every couple of days will ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out in between watering. The soil should feel damp.

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, if the tree is allowed to sway it will help to develop stronger tissues. If the tree is more than 2 metres in height and young, you may need to stake it.

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 curled unusually; 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 and make sure to remove them from your yard.

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. This will especially help the tree to survive during winter.

When is it safe to prune the tree?

For the first three years after planting, you should avoid pruning a tree unless it’s dead or diseased. After about four years, if any branches are rubbing against each other you can remove the rubbing branches. It can also promote a more balanced growth. 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, so identify the insect before you try to remove it. Many insects play a vital role to your yard’s ecosystem. If the insect is a pest and harming your tree, there are many options for controlling it. See our website’s section about tree killers, 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 to find out more!

Where should I plant a tree?

When you’re 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 you leave space around the tree so that grown-up roots won’t interfere with fences, house foundations, or other trees. In the same vein, make sure that young trees are well-spaced so they don’t crowd each other as they mature. 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 trees are at least 2 metres away from hard surfaces like patio stones or driveways.

How do I actually plant the tree?

View our Tree Planting Guide for step-by-step instructions.

How often should I water my tree after a few weeks?

For the first few years of your tree’s growth, check the soil regularly and make sure it is always slightly damp. If it isn’t raining often, water the tree with three bucketfuls of water twice a week, or with the hose on a slow trickle for 15 to 20 minutes twice a week. Make sure you’re not overwatering. If water is pooling around the tree or the soil is extremely wet after watering then water less frequently.

How many trees need to be planted to offset my yearly emissions?

With our Carbon Calculator, you can instantly find out how many tonnes of CO2 are emitted by your activities. By looking at your own energy consumption, like tracking the amount of kilometres you drive or fly, or the amount of electricity you use, you can easily calculate your own annual footprint, or the amount of emissions you produce. With this information, you are able to approximately balance emissions through tree planting undertaken as a part of Tree Canada’s Grow Clean Air program.