Trees

City building

The City of Peterborough proactively manages our community's urban forest to maintain and promote the many social, economic and environmental benefits that our community gets from its trees. We play a key role in maintaining the tree canopy through maintenance, planting, removal, and pest management programs for publicly-owned trees.

A walking path winds through a grove of trees beside a playground and beach
Benefits of urban trees and tree planting

Peterborough and its citizens value the urban forest as an important part of the City‘s green infrastructure. Request a new tree

A line of sugar maples planted in a City boulevard in autumn
Tree maintenance on public property

If a tree located on or near City property requires maintenance, please use our online Report an Issue form or contact Public Works at 705-745-1386.

Residential street in the summer - lawns, trees, houses
Tree removal on private property

Need to remove a tree? You may need to apply for a permit. The destruction and injury of trees is regulated under the Tree Removal By-law 21-074 

A family with two children helps plant a young tree at a tree planting event
Urban Forest Strategic Planning

The Urban Forest Strategic Plan provides guidance and direction for the maintenance, renewal and community awareness of our urban forest resource.

Close-up of ash tree with emerald ash borer markings, bark partially removed
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program

Learn more about the City's Emerald Ash Borer management program, including ash tree treatment, monitoring, removal and replacement.

A close-up of a Norway Maple leaf with tar spot visible
Common tree pests and diseases

Learn about common insects and tree diseases found in our region, and what you can do to protect the trees on your property.

Public Engagement - Urban Forest Canopy Conservation

A public engagement and consultation process was conducted in November and December 2019 to gain an understanding of public perspectives regarding the value of trees and to gain input on approaches to conserve the urban forest canopy. The multifaceted process included five public meetings, an online survey, and interviews with stakeholders and tree care professionals. Read the ensuing Urban Forest Canopy Conservation Engagement Report Summary here. Since then, Urban Forestry has undertaken new projects instigated by the input from this engagement process.

 Tree giveaway

Urban Forestry staff sit at the City's Tree Giveaway Tent set up in Ecology Park during EnviroXUrban Forestry facilitated two tree giveaway events in 2022 to residents in the City. Both the spring event (Trees for Canopy Conservation) and the fall event (Environmental and Climate Action Expo or EnviroX) were a success, providing residents with a variety of native potted trees.

Stay tuned for future tree giveaway events as we support residents to enhance our urban canopy. Events are announced through media releases and shared on the City's social media channels and on our website.

 Fruit tree planting

Forty fruit trees were planted in five City parks in the spring of 2022 in partnership with GreenUP and Nourish. A team of volunteers formed the Ptbo Community Orchard Stewards and assisted with planting the trees. This stewardship group has committed to maintaining the trees into the future in order to have fruit available and accessible for all.

 Volunteer tree planting events

Volunteers with Councillor Parnell load trees into a wheelbarrow during a tree planting eventIn 2021, we initiated large-scale volunteer tree planting in the City of Peterborough. Sites were selected that could support planting hundreds of trees in order to enhance and reforest select areas.

Over 1,100 native trees have been planted as of the end of 2022, with Urban Forestry eager to develop more similar projects.

Tree planting

a young tree planted in front of a house. The tree is staked to encourage stability, has a green watering bag and a layer of mulch at its baseTrees planted in the road allowance, or Street Trees, provide the most benefit to the community such as shading hard surfaces, filtering the air, and moderating stormwater flows. Our tree planting lists prioritize replanting trees in sites of removals as well as in locations where a tree has been requested.

We are looking for your help to find suitable locations for street trees within the road allowance in front of residential properties. Urban Forestry coordinates tree planting on both lawns and boulevards, with the specific location being subject to change due to site suitability and utility inspections.

If your property frontage has no tree and you would like one, please submit a request for tree planting. Requests will be inspected and considered based on suitability. Installation of a new tree cannot be guaranteed. If the request is for a City-owned property or park, we will add the site to our list for future opportunities.

Information about the City's tree planting process
  • If a City-owned tree is removed from your property, it will be replaced with a new tree on the same property.
  • The Urban Forestry team will determine the best species and location for the replacement tree.
  • There is no charge to the property owner for new or replacement trees as they are provided by the City and planted on City property.
  • Property owners may request a tree for their residence but may not do so for a property they do not own.
  • The City maintains the trees throughout their lives. Homeowners are encouraged to help newly planted trees establish by filling the provided watering bag during the growing season.
  • Trees will be approximately 8–10 feet tall when planted.
  • One tree will be provided per 30 feet of frontage. Additional trees may be provided on the side of a corner lot.

Urban Forestry staff will look at each request and determine the preferred planting location, any preparation needed, and the best tree species to suit the site.

When a tree is scheduled for planting, an information card will be left for the homeowner with the planting details and tips on how to help care for the tree.

Species and location requests will be considered but cannot be guaranteed.

Tree species selection

The Urban Forestry team selects the ideal species of tree for each site as there are many factors that need consideration. Success of an Urban Forest depends on planting the right species in the right place, and planning for the future. The selection process includes planning for:

  • Overhead and underground utility conflicts
  • Tree species diversity City-wide
  • Growing space for the canopy and roots
  • Soil type and quality
  • Safety requirements and potential future conflicts

Species and location requests will be considered but cannot be guaranteed.

Caring for new trees

Our trees are often planted with watering bags. During hot, dry weather, you can help newly planted City trees by filling their watering bags once or twice a week. Young trees need water so they can thrive for years to come.

Benefits of trees and tree planting

The urban forest, or green infrastructure, of a city is comprised of both private and publicly owned trees. Approximately 80% of the urban forest in Peterborough is privately owned. As stewards, Peterborough and its citizens value the urban forest as an important part of the City‘s green infrastructure. 

a field just before a tree planting event; many holes have been dug and trees in pots have been placed throughoutThe benefits of trees include:

  • Reducing flooding
  • Improving air quality
  • Increasing property values
  • Providing habitat for wildlife
  • Reducing household energy bills
  • Reducing heat build-up in the City
  • Improving mental and physical health
  • Mitigating climate change

One tree 15 cm in diameter can absorb 22 kg of carbon dioxide and intercept almost 2,000 L of rainfall per year. 

Peterborough is a unique city with great opportunities to improve and increase the quality of our urban forest. Situated at the Gateway to the Kawarthas, our forest is an important resource that can help maintain the health of our water systems as well. Planting Street Trees and reforesting open spaces is essential to the growing nature of our forest and to compensate for its losses.

The Urban Forestry team plants species adapted to our environment, including a variety of hardy native species as well as exotic species that are well-adapted for our harsh urban environments. In 2021, City Council approved a by-law to regulate removal of trees on private property in order to help preserve our urban forest. This by-law is helping us track, maintain and replace our essential forest resource. The urban forest is recognized as an essential part of the future sustainability and success of Peterborough.

Public tree maintenance

If a tree is located on or near City property and requires maintenance, please contact Public Works at 705-745-1386. Public Works marks trees with an orange dot for removals.

If a tree is located on City property and is near wires, Hydro One will perform the maintenance. Hydro One maintains clearance near wires under the Electricity Act which may require pruning or removal of City-owned trees. Hydro One marks trees with a bright green dot for pruning and a letter H for removals.

There are a number of steps involved in the care and maintenance of trees on public property:

Step 1: Assessing
An assessment is completed to identify tree health and hazards. Assessments can be performed on an annual basis, upon request, as well as the first spring following new tree planting. 
Step 2: Pruning
Dead or diseased branches are removed to prevent hazards, improve sightlines, encourage healthy tree growth, and prevent impacts to City infrastructure. This includes any clearing done around overhead wires, street lights, sidewalks, and over roads to ensure public safety and prevent future hazards.
Step 3: Removing
Dead or diseased trees, or trees that pose a risk to public safety, are removed. City-owned trees to be removed are marked with an orange dot.
Step 4: Stumping
After the tree has been removed, stump grinding typically takes place in the following year. Exact dates or times cannot be provided. Once the stump has been ground, grass seed will be applied as the City does not provide sod.
Step 5: Replanting
Replacement tree planting is performed annually in the Spring and Fall. Tree species are selected by the Urban Forestry team based on location, environment, and diversification. 

Tree Protection Zones (TPZs)

In January 2022, the City of Peterborough adopted tree protection measures to enforce the protection of trees during construction. The Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) Fence Detail delineates the requirements for installing protective fencing around trees adjacent to landscaping and/or construction. Protective fencing is to be installed to a minimum of the dripline of the canopy plus 1 m.

Urban Forest Strategic Planning

The City of Peterborough recognizes and values the environmental, social, cultural, and economic contribution of the urban forest to our community.

In June 2011, Peterborough’s City Council adopted the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP), a document to provide guidance and direction for the maintenance, renewal, and community awareness of our urban forest resource.

progress report for the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) was submitted to council in June of 2016 as part of a 5-year review. The report assesses the work done to date and reassesses the priorities for the next 5 years.

To safeguard the many benefits provided by trees, the City is committed to managing the urban forest by promoting community stewardship and strategic practice to preserve, renew, and enhance this essential resource.

Tree Pests and Diseases

Harmful Pests and Diseases

Spongy moth (LDD moth) 

Spongy moth is a non-native invasive insect. Spongy moth defoliates trees and over time can cause those trees to die. Caterpillars chew holes in the leaves, and if there are high population levels of LDD moth they can strip tree canopies. The caterpillars of LDD moth selectively attack oak trees, among others, which happen to be especially sensitive to the risks of defoliation. A close up of spongy moth egg mass, which looks like a fuzzy light brown patch on tree barkThe caterpillars are 5-6 cm long with five pairs of blue dots and six pairs of bright red dots along their back. The female moths are white with dark markings. There are four life stages of development: Egg, caterpillar, pupa and moth.

What can you do?

  • Report egg masses to Urban Forestry staff.
  • Scrape egg masses off trees where possible and destroy the masses.
  • In summer months you can trap caterpillars by wrapping a piece of burlap or cloth around the tree's trunk at chest height, and tying twine or rope around the middle of the burlap. This will provide a place for caterpillars to hide during the heat of the day. Check these bands regularly and scrape caterpillars into a container of soapy water to The spongy moth caterpillar is covered in brown hair with red and blue dots along its bodydestroy them.
  • Keep your trees healthy and better able to ward off attacks. In urban areas, water trees during dry spells and protect their root zones.

Images courtesy of the Invasive Species Centre of Canada.

Hemlock woolly adelgid

Egg sacks appear as white balls at the base of needles on the tree, along stemThe hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a destructive pest that selectively attacks eastern hemlock trees. HWA feeds on plant fluids at the base of the needles and can cause tree mortality in as few as four years.

This pest has not yet been detected in Peterborough, but early detection of HWA is critical for protecting our forests.

Learn more about Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on the Invasive Species Centre web page.

Oak wilt

Oak wilt was first detected in Niagara Falls, Ontario in May of 2023. It is a vascular disease, restricting the flow of nutrients and water within the tree. It is caused by a non-native fungus Bretziella fagacearum. Oak wilt affects all species of oak (Quercus sp.), however the red oak family (e.g., northern red oak, black oak, and pin oak) seem to be more susceptible to the disease. Once the tree is infected it often dies within a single season. The white oak family (e.g., bur oak, swamp white oak, and white oak) can also be infected with the disease but appear to have the ability to compartmentalize areas of infection, allowing trees to live longer though there is still a chance of mortality.

What does an infection look like?

A hand holds an oak leaf showing signs of oak wilt - the outside edges of the leaf are turning brownSigns and symptoms can vary between the different oak species; however, the following is typically observed:

  • Discolouration in the foliage (a bronze or brown colour) starting at the leaf margin and moving toward the midrib. This starts at the top of the tree and moves down
  • Wilting and premature leaf fall (during the spring and summer months)
  • Fungal mats (grey, black, or white in colour) form beneath the bark and cause outward pressure leading to vertical cracks in large branches and on the trunk of the tree

How does Oak wilt spread?

Close up of a brownish-grey, oval shaped fungal mat on the tree barkOak wilt has several methods of spreading. Sap feeding beetles (family Nitidulidae) are attracted to the sap that secretes from the fungal mats beneath the bark. The fungal spores stick to the body of the beetle which then allows the disease to spread from tree to tree as the beetle enters openings or wounds. Movement of infected firewood or nursery stock can also spread the disease. Root to root contact between infected and healthy trees allows the fungus to spread below ground.

Prevention

The City of Peterborough has over 1000 oaks of various species. The protection of oak trees is vital as they provide many ecological benefits in both the urban forest and natural areas. A decline in oak species could lead to a loss of food and habitat for wildlife as well as impacting social, economical, and cultural values. The following may be done to help slow the spread of Oak wilt.

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of Oak wilt
  • Do not move firewood or plant materials that may be infected
  • Pruning of trees is not recommended between the months of April and October. If pruning is necessary during this time, a pruning paint or latex based house paint can be applied over the wound to protect against infection entry. Storm damage should be addressed in this manner as well
  • For those that own private property, observe oak trees closely for any changes and consult with a certified arborist if needed
  • Reported sightings of suspected Oak Wilt should be given to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or the Invasive Species Centre

Resources

For more information, please visit the Invasive Species Centre web page and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency web page

Information and photos for this article were sourced from Invasive Species Centre Canada.

Non-harmful pests and diseases

Tar spot

close up of maple leaves and keys, with dark spots across the leavesTar spot is a common fungal disease found on the leaves of maple trees, especially Norway maple. It is rarely harmful enough to affect the health of the tree. Heavy infections can cause early leaf drop. The best way to help control the fungus is to rake and destroy leaves in the fall.

Hackberry gall

Hackberry gall is caused by adult psyllids (tiny sap-sucking insects) laying eggs on emerging leaves of hackberry trees. After the egg hatches, the young psyllid feeds on the leaf, and the leaf responds by growing an abnormal small pocket that surrounds the insect, this forms a "gall" on the underside of leaves. It is very common, and the tree's health is not impacted by the gall.

Eastern tent caterpillar

The eastern tent caterpillar is a leaf defoliator that creates silk-like tents in the branches of trees. It is sometimes confused with the LLD moth due to its similar appearance. The caterpillar commonly attacks fruit trees, but may also defoliate other hardwood trees, including ash, birch, hawthorn, maple, oak, poplar and willow. Eastern tent caterpillar is more of a nuisance than detriment to tree vigour. Feeding does not seriously damage healthy, mature trees; the damage is primarily cosmetic, with trees appearing ragged or unsightly. Even if completely defoliated, most trees will leaf out again within two or three weeks, since caterpillar feeding generally ends during vigorous leafing activity. 

Questions

If you have any questions about the maintenance or removal of a City tree, or tree planting please contact Public Works