tree care

Can I cut down a tree on my property?

Everything you need to know about cutting down a tree on your property. 

It depends! Most cities have tree preservation bylaws in place to protect some tree species and developing trees. Generally speaking you will need a permit to take down a protected tree and to be approved you’ll need to meet specific criteria. 

If a tree on your property is not protected by the city. It is always advisable to consult with a certified arborist to determine whether tree removal is actually necessary. There could be other ways to save your tree using techniques like pruning, cabling and bracing. 

Let’s explore some more of the questions around removing a tree on your property. 

Can I remove a tree from my property?

For the most part you’ll need a permit to remove a tree on your property, as most Greater Victoria region city bylaws are in favour of preservation where possible. 

If you want to take down a tree there are a number of factors that come into play like; the size of the tree, proximity to your home, it’s condition, and whether it’s deemed hazardous.

First, find out who you need to contact. The City of Victoria, Districts of Saanich and Langford etc, all have a separate set of regulations and application process. Let’s start with the City of Victoria. 

The Victoria Tree Protection bylaws

The purpose of the Tree Protection Bylaw is to provide for the protection and preservation of trees on private property, including those that are undergoing development. If you would like to prune, remove, or work in the protected zone, a permit may be required. 

What are the conditions for Tree removal in Victoria? 

The same tree protection bylaw outlines the conditions where a tree permit may be issued to cut or remove a bylaw protected tree. For instance, when:

  • a tree is considered hazardous and the risk cannot be mitigated using other methods
  • a tree is causing serious damage to your property
  • a tree is located within the building envelope defined in the issued development or building permit
  • a tree is dead, dying, diseased, or presents a hazard

Learn more about the conditions you need to meet for removing a tree.

See related: Should I Remove a Tree – Pros and Cons

What classifies as a protected tree?

You may need to apply for a tree permit if you are planning to prune or remove a protected tree on your property. Protected trees include:

  • A tree with a diameter over 30 cm
  • A hedge that contains any single stem with a diameter over 30 cm
  • Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) or Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) over 50 cm in height measured above natural grade
  • A replacement tree
  • A tree that is protected by a restrictive covenant in favour of the City
  • A tree of any size that is on a slope where the slope grade is greater than 33 per cent over 10 metres
  • A tree of any size that is within 15 metres of the natural boundary of a watercourse

Are arbutus trees protected in BC?

Arbutus trees are protected in the city of Victoria and Saanich. They cannot be removed without special permits, which may be provided to remove dangerous trees.

Are Garry oak trees protected in BC?

In BC, Garry oak is not grown for timber production; in fact, it is considered an endangered species as it grows mainly on private lands which are being developed for urban dwellings.

What tree species are protected?

Trees Protected – when at least 2m tall or 4cm in diameter:

  • Arbutus
  • Garry Oak
  • Pacific Dogwood
  • Pacific Yew

Trees Protected when- diameter at breast height (1.4m) is 30cm or more:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Grand Fir
  • Big Leaf Maple
  • Western Red Cedar

What about tree pruning?

Generally speaking you do NOT need a permit to perform basic tree pruning on a protected tree when done in accordance with sound arboriculture practices. However, there are some special cases where pruning might require a permit. 

Are you planning to prune: 

  • Branches with a diameter >10 cm 
  • More than 25% of the total live foliage and bud bearing branches?

If yes to either, then a permit is required. 

Also Read: The Advantages of Pruning Trees

In Saanich, you will require a Tree Cutting Permit when pruning a:

  • Significant Tree;
  • Tree protected via a Covenant;
  • Tree’s root system; or to
  • Perform pruning that meets the definition of “altering” a protected tree (as defined in the Bylaw).

Tree Permits in your City

The ATC has put together a great resource on tree permits in Victoria. Please navigate to that page for more information on permits, what you will need and how to apply. 

The Verdict?

If a tree is NOT protected by the city bylaws, then yes you are allowed to prune or remove that tree. 

However, most trees in Greater Victoria fall under that “protected tree” category, so more often than not, you will need to complete a tree permit application.

If you live in Saanich, learn how you can apply to cut down a tree on your property. Langley residents should refer to Langley City Bylaws

Your best source of more information on this topic is going to be the What You Need to Know About the New Tree Protection Bylaw PDF, created by the City of Victoria

What Trees are Protected in Victoria BC? 

The purpose of the Tree Protection Bylaws is to provide for the protection and preservation of trees on private property, including those that are undergoing development. If you would like to prune or remove a tree, or work in the protected zone, a permit may be required. 

What classifies as a protected tree?

You may need to apply for a tree permit if you are planning to prune or remove a protected tree on your property. Protected trees include:

  • A tree with a diameter over 30 cm
  • A hedge that contains any single stem with a diameter over 30 cm
  • Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) or Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) over 50 cm in height measured above natural grade
  • A replacement tree
  • A tree that is protected by a restrictive covenant in favour of the City
  • A tree of any size that is on a slope where the slope grade is greater than 33 per cent over 10 metres
  • A tree of any size that is within 15 metres of the natural boundary of a watercourse

Protected trees in City of Victoria

Trees defined as “Protected” under the City of Victoria bylaw include

  • Arbutus.
  • Garry Oak.
  • Pacific Dogwood.
  • Pacific Yew.

Protected trees in Saanich

Trees defined as “Protected” under the bylaw. 

When a tree is defined as “Protected”, certain rules apply. For example you may require a permit to remove it, and Saanich can only issue permits for certain reasons, as per the Bylaw.

Trees are Protected for various reasons. From the tree type, size or its location, a rough guide of which trees are protected includes:

Trees Protected – when at least 2m tall or 4cm in diameter:

  • Arbutus
  • Garry Oak
  • Pacific Dogwood
  • Pacific Yew

Trees Protected when- diameter at breast height (1.4m) is 30cm or more:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Grand Fir
  • Big Leaf Maple
  • Western Red Cedar

Other ways trees are Protected in Saanich

  • Any other tree with a diameter of 60cm or more.
  • Any replacement tree.
  • Any tree over 10cm in diameter or 5m tall located in a Streamside Permit Area.
  • Any tree planted or retained through a subdivision application, development permit or other permit.
  • Significant Trees as listed in the Bylaw.
  • Any tree with evidence of a nest used by raptors, ospreys or herons.
  • Any tree growing on Saanich-owned property.

Trees may also have other forms of protection if registered on the Land Title under a Tree or Natural State Covenant. 

Protected trees in Colwood?

  • Arbutus (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Garry Oak (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Pacific Dogwood (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Pacific Yew (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Douglas Fir (30cm diameter or more)
  • Grand Fir (30cm diameter or more)
  • Big Leaf Maple (30cm diameter or more)
  • Western Red Cedar (30cm in diameter or more)

AND

  • any tree greater than 60 centimetres in diameter or more at chest height 
  • a retained tree identified on a tree protection plan
  • a replacement tree identified on a tree replacement plan
  • a wildlife tree (with nesting birds or animals – see the FAQ on this page).

Protected trees in Langford

Langford is the only municipality of 13 in the Capital Regional District without a specific tree-protection bylaw. Earlier in 2022, Langford council rejected a motion to develop a tree-­protection bylaw, saying the city’s development permit ­process is already protecting trees and environmentally ­sensitive areas.

Protected trees in North Saanich

The North Saanich Tree Protection Bylaw, which regulates the cutting, removal or damaging of trees on private property, was adopted in 2002. Since then, North Saanich’s urban forest and the challenges it faces have evolved. The District is reviewing its Tree Protection Bylaw to align with current best practices and conditions, while ensuring its responds to our community values. The review will include establishing requirements for replacing protected trees. 

This new draft bylaws 

  • Significant trees: All trees larger than 60 cm in diameter except cottonwood, red alder and willow
  • Trees in sensitive areas: All trees larger than 10 cm in diameter within the steep slope and environmental development permit areas
  • Protected species: Tree species greater than 10 cm in diameter, including: Arbutus, Garry oak, Pacific dogwood, Pacific yew, and shore pine
  • Replacement trees: Trees planted as a requirement of a tree permit

Summary 

If you live in Victoria, your best source of more information information on this topic is the What You Need to Know About the New Tree Protection Bylaw PDF, created by the City of Victoria

Reach out

If you are concerned about a tree and think it needs to be removed please contact us and we will arrange an onsite visit to provide a free assessment of the situation and offer you practical advice about the most effective way to move forward.

The Advantage Tree Care team offers a number of tree care and arborist services to residents all over Greater Victoria and Saanich. From tree removals and pruning, to health inspections and emergency tree services, we’ve got you covered.

The Advantages of Pruning Trees

As any tree-lover knows, there are many benefits to pruning trees. Not only does it help to keep them healthy and free of disease, but it also encourages new growth and can even reduce the costs associated with ongoing tree maintenance. 

To the layperson pruning a branch may seem like a simple act. However, there is a real art behind pruning trees from both a tree health and tree aesthetics point of view.

Of course, tree pruning is not a one-size-fits-all affair. The type of tree, as well as its age and location, all need to be taken into account when deciding how and when to prune. 

Let’s have a look at some of the advantages of pruning trees. 

Main Advantages of Pruning Trees

Depending on the location, species and age of your tree it can be advantageous to have a regular pruning regime to promote good air flow and to reduce potential structural failures. 

Tree pruning can be a great way to improve the health and appearance of your trees, as well as; 

  1. Increase sunlight penetration to ripen the shoots and fruit.
  2. Keep them healthy and free of disease
  3. Develop the structure of the tree so it can support the weight of the fruit
  4. Improve a tree’s overall health, structure, and appearance

Lastly, pruning can also be great alternative to tree removals. The goal is to retain as much of the natural environment as possible, and pruning can help prevent unnecessary tree removals within our beautiful communities.

Can I prune trees myself?

Tree pruning is not without its challenges. Pruning can be difficult to do correctly, and it is important to avoid damaging the tree, or injuring yourself for that matter. 

In most cases, tree pruning is best left to tree care specialists who have the experience and know-how, and who can ensure that your trees are properly cared for. 

Having your trees pruned by an Arborist

When you have your tree pruned by a certified arborist you benefit on multiple levels, most importantly;

  • Tree health is maintained
  • On-going maintenance costs are reduced
  • The tree’s natural shape and aesthetics are preserved
  • And, we’ve got the right safety gear – which is always a bonus:)

At Advantage Tree Care, we pride ourselves in the highest quality craftsmanship when it comes to pruning trees and tree care. 

The best tree pruning in Victoria
Certified Arborist tree pruning and tree trimming in Victoria BC

Pruning in urban environments

In urban areas, a lot of the drivers for pruning trees are due to them being “in the way” of human or building needs and frequently it is more about solving these needs than addressing the needs of the tree. 

As arborists we are continually having to get creative with how to achieve what the client wants, whilst maintaining the tree’s health and aesthetics. 

The different types of pruning methods

Tree Pruning involves a range of techniques. The most popular of these tree pruning methods are crown thinning, reduction, raising, and crown cleaning. The crown of the tree is essential for producing leaves for photosynthesis. Without a healthy and strong crown, the rest of the tree will become weaker over time. 

Some examples of the tree pruning methods we use include 

  1. Structural pruning
  2. Tree reductions
  3. Tree thinning
  4. Building clearance
  5. Dead wood removal
  6. Hazard prevention pruning
  7. Restorative pruning (when the tree has previously be poorly pruned)
  8. Fruit tree pruning – apple trees and other fruit tree pruning
  9. Sensitive species pruning e.g. Garry Oak

If you want more, here is a great video on the ABC’s of Tree Pruning

Pruning Garry Oak

ATC has extensive experience and we enjoy working with Garry Oaks. They are a valuable tree in our Ecosystem so much so that Oak Bay was named after the Garry Oak. Learn more about pruning Garry Oak

Fruit Tree Pruning

Fruit tree pruning is an art of its own within the tree pruning world. There are multiple methods for pruning fruit trees depending on the overall purpose of the tree, the species and the desired form (shape) it has been trained to. 

With fruit trees you can also prune the fruit to enhance fruit size and quality.if you don’t have the confidence to take care of your own fruit trees best to reach out to a tree care company for assistance.  

Summary

Tree pruning is often seen as tree care’s dark and mysterious art. Many people are afraid to prune their trees, thinking they will do more harm than good. 

Having your tree pruned regularly is actually a very important part of tree care. Pruning can help to stimulate new growth, remove diseased or damaged branches, and promote fruit production in fruit trees. In addition, pruning can help to increase air circulation and sunlight penetration, both of which are essential for tree health. 

If you think your trees are in need of a little TLC with some regular pruning, don’t be afraid to give your local tree pruners ATC a call, we’d be happy to explain in more detail how our service works. 

What can an arborist help with?

Advantage Tree Care high quality tree service company in Victoria BC
Advantage Tree Care, tree service company serving all of Greater Victoria

Arborists have a diverse skillset to help with many different tree care challenges, including expertise with working at height from ropes, operating chainsaws, and other machinery. 

Arborists also have a good understanding of tree biology, physics and ecology with extensive tree identification knowledge, and this help us to deliver effective tree care whilst also managing and mitigating risks to people, property and trees.

Here are some of the Arborist and tree care services offered by Advantage Tree Care:

  • Arborist Consulting
  • Tree Diagnostics
  • Tree Health Inspections
  • Tree Pruning
  • Fruit Tree Pruning
  • Tree Removals
  • Stump Grinding and Removal
  • Tree Protection
  • Tree Risk Assessment
  • Tree Valuation
  • Training and Education
  • Emergency Tree Services
  • Commercial Property tree services
  • Specialized care for Protected Trees like Gary Oak, Arbutus, Douglas Fir etc
  • Storm Damage Tree Restoration
  • Tree transplanting (please inquire)
  • Deep Root fertilization

How to get started?

For a quotation and onsite visit, please call 250-508-4445, or visit our contact page to send us a message.

Our friendly, professional approach allows us to work with you to ensure your expectations and requirements are met in a safe and efficient way. For all your arborist tree service needs in Victoria and beyond, give Advantage Tree Care a call. 

What does it take to become an ISA Certified Arborist?

To earn an ISA Certified Arborist credential, you must be trained and knowledgeable in a variety of aspects of arboriculture. ISA Certified Arborists must also adhere to the Code of Ethics that strengthens the credibility and reliability of the workforce. 

To be eligible for the ISA Certified Arborist exam, you must have one or both of the following:

  • Three or more years of full-time, eligible, practical work experience in arboriculture
  • A degree in the field of arboriculture, horticulture, landscape architecture, or forestry from a regionally accredited educational institute

An ISA certification illustrates that an arborist is knowledgeable about a variety of topics and arboriculture. With the certification, they can treat trees for diseases and pests and oversee storm and emergency removal. Trained to be safe and follow a code of ethics, ISA certified arborist provides high-quality care that best suits your yard. 

Looking for a qualified Arborist in Victoria, Saanich, Sidney, or Langford? Give ATC a call. We’re here to help. Call, email, or message us and we’ll get right back to you.

Learn more about tree services offered by Advantage Tree Care

5 Tree Care Tips for Homeowners

Did you know that the proper care and maintenance of your trees is essential to their health and longevity?

Not only will your trees live longer, but they will also add value to your property, help improve air quality, and support the natural environment around them too.

Whether you’re a professional arborist, or a homeowner just wanting to tend to the trees in your yard, it’s important to know some best practices when it comes to tree care. 

Here are five tips that can help you keep your trees healthy and looking their best. 

1. Water

Water your trees during dry periods, and summer months. Water your tree regularly, making sure to give it at least an inch of water per week. The best time to water is in the morning or evening, so the roots have a chance to absorb most of the water. 

2. Mulch 

Mulch around the base of your trees to retain moisture and protect from weeds. The second advantage of mulch is to protect your trees from extreme weather conditions, pests and diseases. 

It is one of the best ways to fertilize a young tree by providing slow-release nutrition that leaches down to the roots below with rain. Fertilizing in springtime is great to provide a boost of nutrients for the growing season. 

3. Pruning

Depending on the location, species and age of your tree it can be advantageous to have a regular pruning regime to promote good air flow and to reduce potential structural failures. Fruit tree pruning is an art in its own right, so if you don’t have the confidence to take care of your own fruit trees best to reach out to a tree service company for assistance.  

Pro tip -Never remove more than 25% of the tree’s foliage at one time. 

See related: What are the main advantages of tree pruning

4. Pests & Disease

Watch for signs of pests or diseases and take action early and use organic pesticides or insecticides where necessary. Be mindful of what kinds of fertilizers and chemicals you use near your trees. Seek advice from an Arborist who knows about tree biology and tree disease, and then treat them accordingly. 

5. Storm Damage

Check for damage after storms or heavy snow and take corrective action as needed. Inspect your trees for broken branches or limbs, and anything that could become a hazard. 

Lighting storms? Yes, it’s common that trees get struck by lightning. A bolt of lightning direct on the tree can weaken its core making it more susceptible to damage from future windstorms. A thorough tree inspection and diagnostics can help determine the health of your tree and risk level after a lightning strike. 

Bonus tip: Give ‘em Space

If you are planting trees or transplanting, one of the most important things you can do is make sure they have plenty of room to grow. Overcrowding can stunt a tree’s growth and even cause it to die. 

Need help taking care of your trees? 

If you’re not sure what to do, or how to handle a specific tree, consult with the Advantage Tree Care team your local arborists in Victoria BC. Message or call us, we look forward to hearing from you.

What you need to know about hiring a tree service company

When it comes to the tree care and the tree service industry, there are a few important facts to check out before hiring a company to do any tree work on your property.  Here is a quick breakdown on our top three facts to get answered when looking to hire a tree service company.

1. Certified Arborist

Check to see if the tree service company is certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and sufficiently qualified to perform the work at hand. Checking this information will help give you confidence that you are employing a professional firm that will carry out the tree care to the relevant quality standards, whilst maintaining a safe working environment. ISA Certification numbers can be obtained before works.

2. Insurance

Most tree service companies you’ll find will be fully insured but it’s always a good practice to double check their paper work for the correct coverage and that it is up to date. Please feel free to contact us  for further details.

3. Experience in the Tree Services Industry

The experience of the tree service company is important for both the safety of your property and general public and the workers themselves. It is also important when it comes to the ongoing health, safety and aesthetics of your trees. Unless you have got a personal recommendation it is worth spending some time exploring the company website and asking around for references. You want to ensure that you are in safe, professional hands.

With Advantage Tree Care you can rest assured that we meet all the requirements listed above.  We’re a full service tree care company that offers a wide range of services to fit your every need.  If you would like to talk with us to find out more or to ask for references give us a call today.

What does an Arborist do?

Tree lopper, tree topper, tree cutter, tree surgeon, are some commonly used terms people use to describe an arborist. However, these terms are not an accurate representation of what an arborist is or what an arborist does. 

So, what exactly is an Arborist?

An arborist practices arboriculture. Arbor is Latin for “tree” and culture comes from the Latin cultus which means “to care”. Tree care. 

Arborists are tree care professionals, who blend art, technique and science together in order to deliver effective tree care whilst also managing and mitigating risks to people, property and trees. Arborists typically work in the urban environment and are the people who balance the relationship between humans and trees.

Arborist is an overarching term that describes a variety of job roles. In order to practice as an arborist one has to have a good understanding of tree biology, physics and ecology with extensive tree identification knowledge. An arborist also needs to have in-depth skills and experience with working at height from ropes, operating chainsaws and other machinery. 

Arborists hard at work
Arborists discussing project with homeowner

The Climbing Arborist

Depending on an individual’s preference there are several avenues through which to specialize in arboriculture. For example a climbing arborist would refer to someone who has developed knowledge in tree biology and tree physics and has trained in various tree climbing techniques, using ropes to safely access and work within a tree canopy whilst operating a chainsaw. 

They would also have a good grounding in physics with an understanding of how to safely and efficiently rig large sections of wood using ropes and pulleys to mitigate damage to people and property.

The Consulting Arborist

A consulting arborist may have chosen to study more in-depth into tree biology, soil ecology, tree health and disease and tree risk assessments, they would know how to operate tools such as a resistograph to identify decay in wood and would generally be more desk based carrying out tree surveys and preparing reports. 

Advantage Tree Care is a certified ISA Climbing and Consulting Arborist serving the Greater Victoria area. Speak with a local arborist today and tell us about your tree care project.

Consulting Arborist
consulting arborists

So what does a typical day for a climbing arborist look like? 

For starters there is no typical day, one aspect of being an arborist is that nothing is certain, things change and you need to be adaptable. Nonetheless there is a general flow to a day starting with identifying the day’s jobs and the necessary tools, equipment and skills needed to perform those jobs. We will arrive at the job-site and set up a safe working zone which would include laying out cones along the street where machinery is parked. 

Tailgate – walk-through

On every job site it is essential that a “tailgate” meeting is held, where the team come together to talk and walk through the job, laying out a plan of action and performing a hazard risk assessment as well as identifying an emergency action plan in the event of an on site accident. Safety and communication are paramount when working as an arborist for both the team and client management.  

Clear and Constant Communication

Communication with the client is integral to a successful day at work. It is not always the climbing arborist on site who has previously spoken with the client and quotes the job. Therefore, it is important to build rapport with the client ensuring that their expectations are understood and that they are clear on the work to be performed. Sometimes this can involve walking round the yard with the client discussing particular nuances of the site.

Arborists getting ready for work
Getting prepared for a big job

Preparing for Work

During this time the other crew onsite will have prepped tools, climbing gear and moved any property such as bird feeders that may be in the way of the trees to be worked on. It is now time for the climbing arborist to perform a visual tree risk assessment before they start climbing into the tree to carry out the work. 

This assessment identifies if there are any specific risks to the climber for example hanging branches that may fall as they ascend the tree or if there is decay or weak points in the tree that would influence how the tree work will be carried out. 

Are we Pruning, or Removing?

When it comes to a climbing arborist there are two higher level categories of tree work, tree pruning or tree removal and under each of these categories there is a wider variety of techniques, practices and sciences behind how they are carried out depending on the tree species, its health and the job description. 

What to learn more?

Learn more about tree removals or tree pruning, or check out some of our latest work on our portfolio page. If you have any questions about out tree care services, send us a message via our contact page