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Arboriculture

General Information
Mistreatment
Soil improvement and fertilization
Protection during work
Hazardous Tree
Notice
Myths and realities
Pruning
Roots
Felling
Being a good neighbor and the civil code
Planting
Watering

GENERAL INFORMATION

The City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux takes to heart the green heritage of the urban forest and has become involved to ensure the protection and management of its forests for future generations. The conservation of urban trees is imperative, as it contributes to the improvement of the air quality throughout the whole city and to the well-being of all citizens.

The City has created tree planting and scheduled maintenance programs as well as a bylaw to protect trees. A GPS inventory of trees and a follow-up that gathers data-processed information can provide particulars about a distinct street and the presence of illnesses or insects on the territory, as well as information about a specific tree as needed. The City is responsible for pruning branches, clearing infrastructures and streets, public safety, planting to compensate for tree losses and planning projects in the absence of trees.

The City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux has adopted a Bylaw concerning the maintenance and protection of trees. It applies to private trees on front, side and back yards as well as public trees on curbs, in parks, green spaces and woodlands.

Only the City is authorized to proceed with the pruning or felling of a public or common tree. If a tree belongs to the City and needs to be pruned, evaluated or felled, or if you wish to plant a tree, you can submit a request to the Public Works Department by calling 514-684-1034.

MISTREATMENT

Maintenance and pruning must not compromise the tree development and lifetime. The work must be done in compliance with the most recent norms of the Bureau de normalisation du Québec NQ 0605-200, IV Entretien arboricole et horticole.

The following injuries inflicted to trees and damaging practices on trees are forbidden. Fines will be levied for infractions.

  • Topping
  • Overpruning
  • Tree poisoning
  • Trunk girdling
  • Installing nails, signs, wires, lights, swings or other objects that affect the health of trees and prevent the safe maintenance of public trees

PROTECTION DURING WORK

Do you plan to install a pool, create more parking or redo your landscaping?

Please be advised that in addition to the required permits and certificates, you and your contractor are responsible for the protection of public trees that are located close to or in a work area, including the trees located in the path taken by machinery and workers to reach the said work area.

Avoid destabilization and seriously harming trees and their roots in particular. Root loss, due to roots being ripped out or crushed by machinery, leads to deterioration of the ground conditions and the destruction of the vital environment of the tree. The City has outlined provisions in Bylaw R-2007-023, chapter VII, Tree protection during construction work or landscaping or permanent lowering of the ground level.

The aerial and underground parts, that is, the branches, trunk and roots, have to be protected during the entire work period.

Anyone who contravenes to the provisions of the by-law commits an infraction and is liable to a fine. The contravener may also be subject to a claim for any damage caused to a tree.

These simple precautions can prevent problems:

  • Obtain a permit for any tree felling.
  • Contact the City to obtain the necessary permits and certificates.
  • Ask the City to affix or prune the low branches of the public trees that interfere with the circulation of machinery.
  • Protect the trunk of the tree with two-by-fours or with wood planks.
  • Determine the protective zone and install a fence around it.
  • Avoid placing material, debris, earth, equipment, tools or gas cans inside the zone.
  • Do not circulate machinery in the zone.
  • Place plywood sheets on the soil adjacent to the zone and passage areas to avoid crushing the roots and compacting the earth.
  • Make a clean cut to get the roots out; do not rip out roots.
  • Do not raise or lower the ground level in the protective zone without prior authorization by the City.
  • Consult and respect the bylaw, chapter VII, page 9
  • Consult the norm NQ 0605-100, IX, p. 107–112 for all construction work and landscaping.

Call a municipal inspector. (Your request should include information about the nature of the work, the measures you will take to protect the trees and a plan or sketch.)

NOTICE

Have you received a notice from the City concerning trees? The notice reads:

  • Please be advised that the City will soon proceed with maintenance work as pruning public trees near your residence.

or

  • Please be advised that the City requests you prune obstructive branches of trees that belong to you. You can proceed within 10 days or work out an agreement with the City by contacting the Public Works Department at 514-684-1034.

So as not to interfere with public security, with the work of municipal employees, with the crosswalks and with traffic, each owner is responsible for keeping clear at all times traffic signs and public infrastructures by pruning the branches of his or her trees.

Only the City is authorized to proceed with the pruning of public or common trees.

If a common or public tree needs pruning, please call the Public Works Department at 514-684-1034.

Consult the bylaw, chapter VI, pages 9 and 10, Rules governing tree maintenance and pruning, to learn more about the regulations concerning the prescribed clearance.

These rules mainly concern:

  • Fire hydrants, public street lights, signs and visibility angles
  • Secondary arteries, 4 m high
  • Main arteries, 4.5 m high
  • Public sidewalks, 3 m high

PRUNING

The main objectives of pruning are to maintain trees in good condition and clear of structures. In order to prune your trees, it is necessary to request a certificate of authorization prior to the beginning of your work.

Each owner is responsible for the maintenance of trees on his or her property. Contact a reputable private contractor for your work.

Maintenance work and pruning must not shorten the tree’s lifespan. Topping is forbidden.

In order for the work to be done in a professional manner and for your trees not to be mistreated (consult the MISTREATMENT section), please ensure your contractor is aware of the City bylaw, chapter VI as well as the norm NQ 0605-200 Entretien arboricole et horticole from the Bureau de normalisation du Québec. Make sure your contractor has liability insurance.

Private common trees

A common tree is any tree whose trunk is partially on another property. The affected owners are responsible for the maintenance of a common tree.

However, in the case of a common tree whose part of the trunk is on public property or any City-owned property, please be advised that only the City is authorized to proceed with the maintenance or pruning of this tree. Consult the bylaw, chapter III, section 2, Rules governing public or common trees. For any tree maintenance, please call the Public Works Department at 514-684-1034.

FELLING

It is mandatory for an owner to obtain a certificate of authorization for the felling of a private tree in the front, side and back yards of his or her property. A City inspector will analyze your request form.

Your permit is conditional on the planting of another tree. The City will ask for a $500 deposit to guarantee its replacement.

Your deposit will be refunded after the validation of the new tree. This replacement tree has to have, at the moment of its planting, a trunk diameter of at least 2.5 cm, or in the case of a coniferous tree, a height of at least 1.5 m, and has to respect the other conditions and provisions according to the bylaw in force. Consult the bylaw, chapter V, Rules governing tree planting.

PLANTING

When can you plant?

The planting period easily extends from the spring thaw until late in the fall. However, wait until the right moment and avoid working on poachy ground. Also avoid planting in summer drought conditions, because it requires more precautions, care and more watering is necessary. Whatever the time of year, please respect the City’s watering restrictions.

How to choose the right tree?

For the best results, choose a tree:

  • whose shape and stages of growth respect the size of the lot (identify the infrastructures that need to be kept clear and comply with the property lines)
  • whose characteristics include easy maintenance (infrequent pruning)

and one that:

  • has good resistance to urban conditions (pollution or acid rain, earth compaction, poor drainage, road salt and more)
  • has good hardiness for our winters (a hardiness zone of less than 5 is preferable)
  • has good resistance to diseases and insects

and, above all one that:

  • is healthy
  • has no injury or disease when purchased
  • has a well-formed radial structure

The tree has to benefit from sufficient sun exposure (some trees require lots of sunshine; others tolerate half-shade).

Provide your tree with ideal growing conditions to ensure longevity and prevent possible problems, such as diseases and undesirable insects. Consult our suggestions. LIST OF TREES

How to plant a tree

The planting method is a controlling factor to ensure the survival of the tree. It is imperative to know the appropriate planting techniques and to allow for a large hole. Please refer to the norm NQ 0605-100, VIII, Aménagement paysager à l’aide de végétaux, pp. 89–101 as well as the WATERING section.

  • Image (NQ 0605-100, VIII, fig. 3 and 5, p.94 and 96)

Please consult the Montreal Botanical Garden’s “Carnet horticole et botanique.”

Before you plant a tree, test the soil drainage by filling up half the hole where you intend to plant. If after several hours, the water has not drained out of the hole, you have slow-draining soil. Roots need oxygen and root asphyxiation will kill your tree. You may opt for a better spot to plant your tree.

Slow-draining soil solutions:

  • Consult a specialty contractor.
  • Consult the norm for Compact soil and poor-draining soil NQ 0605-100, VIII, chapter 4.2, page 87.

Stakes

If you install support stakes, place them away from the root ball to avoid root damage. The stakes can be used to protect a tree exposed to prevailing northwest winds, for instance, but they must not be used to straighten a tree.

Stakes are not necessary in most cases and are often responsible for trunk, root and branch damage. The spreading of the roots should be fast enough to support a young tree. If you install stakes, remember to remove them the next year. Monitor and prevent tree injuries when removing them.

Wires are essential when planting or relocating any large tree. They help to stabilize it, since the root ball is small compared to the height of the tree and considering the rooting will take longer. These wires will be kept much longer than stakes.

  • NQ 0605-100, VII fig. 7 and 10, pp. 98 and 101

Winter protection

In order to prevent damage caused by snow removal (especially to conifers), it may be wise to install a snow fence and jute around plants. For conifers, remove the protection on cloudy days in the following spring, to avoid the burning of leaves by the sun.

Trunk protection

Similarly, before winter, protect the trunk of young trees and fruit trees to prevent damage to the bark caused by small rodents and rabbits. Install a protective sleeve or tube or a wire fence around the trunk. Firmly tamp and compact the snow around the trunk to prevent the formation of tunnels through which small rodents can move.

WATERING

Young plantation

It is important to provide good irrigation when planting young trees and to monitor the early years. An application of about 50 litres of water is ideal. The formation of a water retention basin is desirable in the first year, and sometimes the second, to direct the flow of irrigation water to the roots. During the development, the roots will gradually move away from the trunk. It will then be unnecessary – and even inadvisable – to water near the trunk and to keep a basin.

It is recommended to place mulch all around the tree at approximately 2.5 cm away from the trunk. Mulch conserves moisture and has several benefits for the soil. You will have to water less if mulch is installed. Further, it provides protection against injuries to the trunk by keeping the cutting tools away – many trees are damaged when the lawn is mowed. Tree injuries often lead to serious problems later and are an important cause of mortality in trees.

Respect watering restrictions issued by the City. A young tree can easily be watered by hand, which is always allowed.
There is no need to fertilize a newly planted tree.

Mature trees (15 years and older)

If rainfall is insufficient, water the soil surrounding the tree from time to time, up to a distance beyond the end of the crown: where the roots have developed (and not near the trunk). In general, if they have adapted to their environment, trees will manage. Remember, it is better to water at low frequency (two or three times throughout the season) but deeply to promote good root development. Frequent superficial watering promotes development of surface roots, which are sensitive to temperature and humidity variations, with harmful results to the tree and to other plants.

Since the roots are fragile, pay special attention to grass surface irrigation. Change bad watering habits to better manage water usage and improve the performance of your plants and lawn.

A period of summer drought can cause a state of dormancy in a tree (and in a lawn), which will limit its need to be watered and restrict its need of water and nutrients. However, you may have to compensate after the drought by watering deeply.

SOIL IMPROVEMENT AND FERTILIZATION

The ground around your property is generally not the original soil; it is likely backfill. This kind of soil is generally poor or clayish and compacted. Unlike the soil of natural environments (ground litter composed of leaves and of decaying wood residues), backfill does not provide good growing conditions and is nutrient poor.

In an urban environment, nutrient poor soil and general soil structure have to be improved periodically.

Restore the life of the soil

Soil improvements are used to restore soil life by resetting its complexity and its micro fauna, or natural activity of organisms. They provide fertilizing matter and also:

  • Improve or correct soil components
  • Restore the mineral elements trees need
  • Offer better growing conditions (humidity, nutrients, nitrogen, oxygen and other)
  • Maintain the vitality of the tree
  • Increase plant resistance against diseases and insects

Organic matter

The ground needs organic matter such as:

  • Grass clippings and shredded leaves
  • Home compost
  • Commercial: sheep manure compost, shrimp compost and others on the market

In general, an annual application of compost on the surface, while doing the spring aeration and top-dressing of ground, can significantly improve the poor, compacted and deficient soil that is so often found in urban areas.

In addition, apply more environmentally friendly techniques by grass cycling. Rather than bagging them, leave grass clippings on the lawn and shred some of the fallen leaves in the fall to mulch and nourish your soil.

There is no need to add synthetic fertilizers to good soil (synthetic fertilizers, sticks, slow-release or regular granules) or to the lawn, since they have no effect on soil improvement. Fertilizers can harm trees by stimulating abnormal growth (aphids). They disrupt the chemical exchange and root absorption of soil nutrients. The excess of synthetic fertilizers released by leaching (watering too often or heavy rain) follows the path of the storm sewers and watercourse and poses environmental problems.

Refer to our GREEN LINE for tips on lawn care without harming trees and other plants.

HAZARDOUS TREES

Definition

According to the regulations, a tree is considered dangerous when it involves an imminent danger. In this case, it is a serious threat and danger for the physical safety of property or persons, and you must immediately take steps to correct the critical situation.

The City may intervene to force the owner to fell the tree or to prune it to correct the unsafe condition. Consult Bylaw R-2007-023, chapter 4, paragraph 6. You must report such cases to the City by calling 514-684-1034.

Structural defects

A tree can have good appearance and look healthy, but it may present a problem, such as a structural defect, dead branches, a weakness in a fork and more. The structural problems can often be corrected in various ways (tree pruning or guying techniques).

Rare cases

Otherwise, if a structural problem cannot be corrected and if the tree is considered to be hazardous, it should be felled as soon as possible. Contact the Public Works Department at 514-684-1034. Please be advised that these are exceptional circumstances.

Prevention

To prevent problems, ask an arborist to evaluate the structure of your tree when you carry out its maintenance. In most cases, it is all right to act in time to correct weaknesses and substantially reduce risks.

Ask a forest engineer in specific and complex cases that require further evaluation.

You can obtain a written report from a professional, which could be essential for legal causes or in case of a dispute with neighbours.

MYTHS AND REALITIES

Large trees

The annual growth and the size of large trees can cause concern. The annual growth, called elongation, gradually decreases in mature trees. The tree has its own DNA and can support a genetically predetermined maximum height and the weight of its structure.

Topping is a damaging practice for trees and is forbidden (consult the MISTREATMENT section).

A maple tree grows like a maple tree; an ash tree grows like an ash tree and so on. The tree’s development depends upon its environment. Trees are living organisms that respond to their environment. Everywhere, nature shows survival strategies and adaptation.

For instance, branches develop according to light and space available; root systems compensate in strength to support a trunk leaning toward a light source and they are restricted in development if constrained by a lack of space; crown (all branches and leaves) grows in similar proportions; and so on.

Remember not to fear a tree because of its size, but rather because of its structural defects when left unattended, vulnerable to the elements.

Weaknesses, wood rot or dead wood have to be identified right away; avoid injuries, bad cuts and topping.

The word is prevention. Abnormalities are often corrected during professional pruning maintenance. Look at the structure of the tree early in spring or after the leaves fall. You will be able to react when necessary to request the help of a professional arborist.

Roots

There are several misconceptions about roots. Some myths persist about the “force” roots have to cause damage to structures, to crack house foundations or to cause failure of underground pipes. Indeed, if tree roots were capable of such damage, no City would tolerate the presence of trees.

Trees in urban areas share space with the structures and infrastructures. How many trees are located near buildings or along streets and sidewalks, close to the underground utilities, present everywhere in the City? Think about the Hydro-Québec underground cables, the Gaz Metropolitan pipes, the municipal water pipes, the sanitary sewer mains, and so on.

Let us look at the function of roots and how they work. In short, roots are there to support the tree. They provide ground anchor. Remember that trees are living organisms and roots are organs that serve to absorb water, minerals or oxygen and transport nutrients. Roots are located immediately under the soil surface, rapidly diminishing in size as they move away from the trunk.

A greater part is located in the first 30 cm of soil depth. They become scarce in the following 30 cm and rarely exceed 1 m deep. Roots explore surface rather than depth. They extend horizontally over a distance that exceeds the length of the branches if there are no obstacles. They grow by elongation in soil pores, by the extremity of the smallest parts, and only in the direction where the soil does not offer resistance.

Many researchers have studied this issue. Dr. Kim D. Coder (“Root Growth Control: Managing Perceptions and Realities.” Landscape Below Ground II. 1998. p. 57) demonstrates that roots are not strong enough to go through solid materials such as pipes, concrete, plastic or wood. For this reason, roots do not have the ability to cause direct physical damage.

Here are some familiar examples to form your own opinion:

  • Potted trees have roots that grow in circles, spirals, along the walls of the pot, having no other possibility; and if there are openings at the bottom of the pot, some will come through.
  • During an excavation, you can find a root along the foundation; the solid wall of concrete has directly influenced the direction of its growth.
  • A surface root can be observed along the edge of a parking lot.

ROOTS

Consult the MYTH AND REALITY section to learn about the function of roots and how they work.

Should I worry that roots will damage the foundation of the house?

The root tips offer no resistance against obstacles, whether a small rock, a piece of wood, a foundation wall and even a hard and compacted soil. The elongation of the roots will follow the direction where the ground condition is ideal.

When roots encounter crushed stones, under the parking lot or street, or when they reach the reinforcement of pavement or any other barrier, they grow in another direction.

Can roots cause damage to my parking lot or asphalt?

For the same reasons, a parking lot that has a properly structured foundation under the asphalt, or the paving stones or slabs, will create a barrier against the roots. When construction standards are respected and soil is stabilized to prevent the movements of freeze-thaw cracks, no root damage is possible. If after several years and for different reasons (soil compaction, freeze-thaw, water infiltration or other), the construction deteriorates enough for a root to infiltrate, cut the root and resurface the parking lot.

Then why are there roots in pipes?

Research shows that the presence of roots in pipes is due to dislocation or loss of a seal in the connecting joints. This opening permits root infiltration.

The opportunist roots take advantage of water availability, nutrients and oxygen. As long as the conduits are not fixed and impermeable, roots will grow, ramify and colonize the place.

The joint opening is due to a set of defect factors, often combined with age, such as the type of pipe used, the mechanical motion of the soil (packing or freeze-thaw), and the quality of the bedding or of the foundation when installing pipes, the type of filling and the type of connecting joints between the pipes.

Roots take advantage of a weakness or of a default existing in the conduits. Repair of underground pipes solves the problem permanently. (People used to use concrete piping (or clay) of a length of 4 feet; and today, they use PVC plastic pipes or fibreglass FRP in longer sections.)

Tree Protection Act

BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR AND THE CIVIL CODE

Ministère de la Justice du Québec
1200, route de l’Église
Sainte-Foy (Québec) G1V 4M1
Telephone: 418-643-5140 Toll-free: 1-866-536-5140
Email: informations@justice.gouv.qc.ca
http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/joindre/renseign-a.htm

Being a good neighbour: http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/themes/biens-a.htm

(Extracts from the leaflet Justice en bref, Being a good neighbour. 2003) "Living in society involves accepting a certain level of inconvenience (…) The Civil code provides a framework for maintaining good relations between neighbours."

Trees

Sometimes the tree branches or roots cause serious problems and encroach on your neighbour’s land. In that case, the neighbour can ask you to cut the said branches and roots. If you refuse to comply with his request, he may obtain an injunction granted by the Court, providing he has sent a written notice first.

Finally, if your tree is threatening to crash into the neighbour’s property, he may similarly require you to fell or straighten it.

Written Notice

Send a written notice to as the owner to consent to correct a situation that seems dangerous to private or public property, or cause prejudice according to the intent of the law. (Source: Justice Québec pamphlet.)

  • The notice has to be written in a letter form (date, address of the recipient and sender).
  • Its content and purpose must be clear.
  • It should indicate the request and the reasons justifying it.
  • It must invite the recipient to conclude, within a reasonable time (15 days, for instance), an agreement or action; otherwise, your request will be referred to a court.

(It is recommended that you send your request by registered mail.) If your neighbour, owner of the tree, after having received the formal request, refuses or fails to take the necessary steps to correct the situation, you can take your case to court to obtain a Court judgment. You are not authorized, in your sole discretion, to take action on the property of others, not even cut a single branch within easy reach, without prior consent from the owner.

Civil Code

http://www2.publicationsduQuébec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/CCQ/CCQ.html

Useful links

References

  • Hydro-Québec, Répertoire des arbres et arbustes ornementaux, 2nd edition.
  • Hydro-Québec, Montréal, QC. 547 p.
  • Dumont, Bertrand, 2005. Guide des arbres, arbustes et conifères pour le Québec. Broquet, Saint-Constant, QC. 632 p.