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Pruning Guide

PruningMunicipal trees are valuable, contributing to the beauty of our city and providing benefits such as shade from summer heat, habitat for songbirds and increased property value.

Homeowners can help the City's Parks & Open Spaces Section by pruning small branches on the boulevard tree adjacent to their property. Sucker shoots can be removed that grow from the bases of the trees, as can small damaged branches and small overhanging branches that get in the way of walking and parking.

Call Before You TriM

If you would like to conduct minor pruning on the boulevard tree, you will need to receive approval from the City's Parks & Open Spaces Section by phoning 625-2195 or by dropping into the Community Services office at the Civic Centre in Victoriaville. You will be provided with guidelines on the proper pruning procedures and allow us to update our street tree inventory database.

If a tree requires a more extensive trim, Parks & Open Spaces Section staff will be scheduled to perform this service. Alternatively, you are welcome to hire a qualified arborist if you would like to have the tree trimmed in a more timely fashion. Approval will still be required, even if you hire an arborist, so that the Parks & Open Spaces Section is aware of all pruning taking place on municipal trees.

Homeowners are allowed to prune branches on municipal trees immediately adjacent to their properties that meet these descriptions:

  • New shoots, commonly referred to as sucker shoots, originating from the ground near the base of the tree. Only shoots with diameters up to 40 mm (1 ½ in) that are located within 30 cm (12 in) of the ground may be removed.
  • Overhanging branches that interfere with pedestrian traffic and vehicular parking. Branches up to 40 mm (1 ½ in) in diameter may be pruned to a height of 3 m (10 ft) only. Young and establishing trees are excluded from this allowance (see below).
  • Broken branches up to 40mm (1 ½ in) in diameter.

Sucker Shoot Removal

Sucker shoots up to 40 mm (1 ½ in) in diameter and located within 30 cm (12 in) of the ground should be removed as close to the ground as possible using hand pruners or loppers.

Young Trees

The City's Parks & Open Spaces Section defines young trees as being those that are less than 5 m (16 ft) in height or that are smaller than 10 cm (4 in) in diameter when measured 30 cm (12 in) above the ground. Only City staff may attend to trees that meet either of these specifications.

Pruning young trees, also known as tree training, is a highly technical skill that requires specialized knowledge and expertise. On young trees, most branches are smaller than 40 mm (1 ½ in) in diameter. For this reason, young trees are not to be pruned by homeowners. Consider becoming a trained Citizen Pruner.

Overhanging, Damaged or Broken Branch Removal

Homeowners are allowed to shorten damaged branches, branches that have been broken or that are hanging low over the ground to provide clearance for pedestrian traffic or vehicle parking, provided that the proper pruning practices detailed below are followed.

Clearance is required up to 3 m (10 ft) above the road or sidewalk by removing only downward-growing branches smaller than 40 mm (1-1/2 in) in diameter. City staff must be called to attend to branches that are growing higher than 3 m (10 ft) above the road or sidewalk, branches that are larger than 40 mm (1-1/2 in) in diameter or branches that require removal at the trunk.

Pruning Techniques and Practices

The pruning techniques and practices upon which these guidelines are based are the current arboricultural standards as outlined in ANSI A300 Part 1 – Tree, Shrub and Other Woody Plant Maintenance - Standard Practices, Pruning and its companion publication Best Management Practices: Tree Pruning , published by the International Society of Arboriculture. 

The following standards shall be adhered to:
  1.   Proper pruning cuts to be used to shorten branches are:
       a. A reduction cut (Figure 1) is to be used to shorten a branch back to a lateral branch that is large enough to assume the terminal role. The lateral branch should be at least half the diameter of the removed portion. 
         Trees - Reduction Cut
        Figure 1. In this example, the diameter of the removed branch is 40 mm and the diameter of an appropriately sized lateral branch should be between 13 and 20 mm.
       b. A heading cut (Figure 2) can be used on current year’s growth to reduce the length of a branch or sprout.

 Trees - Heading Cut

         Figure 2: A heading cut to be used for shortening one-year old branches. Note that the location of the cut is angled and just to the outside of a lateral bud.
   2. All pruning is to take place from the ground using hand pruners (secateurs), loppers and pole pruners. Use of any type of saw or power tool is not permitted and ladders are not to be erected on municipal property. Tools are to be sharp to make clean cuts without jagged edges or stubs. Anvil-type pruning tools with a blade that cuts to a flat surface should be avoided because they crush tissue; tools with bypass (scissors-type) blades are preferred. Place the blade side of the pruner toward the tree and squeeze the blade up through or across the branch. Passing the blade down through the branch can cause the union to split.
3. Pruning tools are to be properly sterilized between each use and each tree pruned to reduce chances of transmitting diseases. Undiluted methyl hydrate (gas line antifreeze) contained in a spray bottle is recommended.
4. Wound dressings are not to be applied to pruning cuts. Research has shown that these products do not reduce the spread of decay. Proper pruning cuts are the best means by which to assist a tree in using its own defences to close wounds and barrier off decay.
5. Birch and maples trees should not be pruned until after the end of June to avoid excessive “bleeding”. Elm trees shall not be pruned from April 1 to Aug. 1, which is the period during which the beetles that transmit Dutch elm disease are active.