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Tree Roots on Private Property

Call, Don't Cut

Tree roots growing onto your property can be a hassle and a concern in your yard. The roots may be growing from a tree located on your property, on a neighbour's property, or on Municipal property. The roots may be close to your foundation or pushing up through your lawn.

Before removing any tree roots, you find out whether there is a tree attached to the roots.

If the answer is no, it's possible the recent removal of homes may have left roots that will pop up and grow suckers in your lawn. Regular removal of suckers, which are trees that grow directly from the root itself, by mowing or pruning is acceptable.

If the answers is yes and there is a tree attached to the roots, you need to confirm who owns the tree.

Schedule a Tree Doctor visit by calling the PULSE Line at 780-743-7000. Municipal Arborists will help determine whether the tree is located on your property, on a neighbour's property or on Municipal property.

IMPORTANT: Municipal Arborists cannot remove trees or roots on your property.

Who owns the tree?

You can trace the roots back to the tree they support.

Remember, the front strip of your yard may be owned by the Municipality. Usually, this is the first 3 metres of your yard from the sidewalk or curb but widths can vary. Trees located in this space or on the boulevard or greenspace near your property belong to the Municipality.

Residents cannot take any action that may kill or injure a tree that does not belong to them. This includes root pruning, grinding, suffocating or damaging roots with chemicals.

Tree root pruning and removal can kill or injure a tree, making it possible for the tree to blow over in a storm or grow suckers, which are small trees that sprout directly from the roots. Removing a tree will not remove the roots and may result in an increase in suckers.

Steps to Take

If you do not own the tree, you can take the following safe actions:
  • Add soil over the roots to raise the ground level. Your lawn will respond well to an added inch or so of topsoil. Adding more than two inches may damage the tree roots as much as pruning.
  • Add mulch over the area in a thin layer no more than two inches deep.
  • Place decorative pots or other features in the area or consider re-purposing the area to include a reading bench or swing.
If you do own the tree, you can follow these safe root removal steps:
  • DO hire a certified arborist from a local nursery or contractor to inspect the area and complete the work.
  • DON'T prune roots that are bigger than two inches in diameter
  • DON'T prune away more than 20 per cent of the tree's roots
  • DON'T remove any roots within the drip line (an imaginary line from the farthest spreading branches to the ground).
  • DON'T remove roots for aesthetic purposes only.
  • DO remove only those roots that may impact structures.
  • DO prune in winter or early spring, which are optimal times for this work.

Questions? Call the PULSE Line at 780-743-7000.

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