Public trees: Learn about how they’re maintained

Last updated October 27, 2021
Reading time: 3 min

Public trees are a source of collective wealth for Montréal. While the city owns these trees, we must all look out for them. Residents should be familiar with the following rules, which apply to individual responsibilities.

Publicly-owned trees can be found in the following places: 

  • In parks, squares, and tree pits along the sidewalks.
  • In front of houses or buildings, between the sidewalk and private property on what is called the public right-of-way.

Maintenance of public trees

Only municipal employees can carry out pruning, felling and planting operations after a tree is felled. 

However, your attention and sense of observation may be extremely useful in helping identify the trees that do require action. Please contact 311 if you observe a problem.

Pruning and trimming

Pruning consists of:

  • Removing dead, diseased or broken branches measuring more than 5 cm in diameter
  • Removing low-hanging and potentially harmful branches.
  • Clearing branches away from certain parts of a building or street furniture (a balcony, private electrical wires, a lamppost, a roof, signage hidden by a public tree, etc.).

For example, municipal crews remove low branches that may obstruct the passage of vehicles, but not branches that obstruct the view from a window or hide the sunlight.


Felling consists of cutting a tree at ground level. Sometimes, for safety reasons, a section of the trunk, measuring about a metre in height, is preserved until grubbing is carried out. An orange line is painted on the trunk of trees earmarked for felling.

Felled trees are systematically replaced. However, the replacement of a tree can be delayed for various reasons, including a shortage of new trees in stock, planned work operations on streets, and underground services in the tree pit.

Only municipal employees are authorized to carry out an assessment that could lead to the felling of a public tree, but your collaboration is appreciated: If you believe a tree is sick or poses a danger, please contact 311. 


Grubbing involves cutting the trunk at ground level. A stump grinder is used to break large stumps into wood chips at a depth beneath ground level.

Grubbing leaves a pile of wood residue, which is collected when the work is done or at a subsequent time (up to two weeks later). Small stumps are removed when a tree is replaced.

Replacement and planting

All felled public trees are replaced.

Please allow for a period of six to 18 months for a tree to be replaced after felling. A white mark is made on the sidewalk where the new tree will be planted. In some situations, residents receive a notice of upcoming work operations in their mailbox. 

The Division des parcs in your borough chooses the tree species best suited to each planting location, based on various criteria:

  • The availability of species on the market
  • Biodiversity
  • Underground and airborne obstacles
  • Resistance of tree species to urban stressors (e.g., significant car traffic, the use of de-icing abrasives, etc.)

You can suggest a specific tree species, but the final decision lies with the inspector.


Even though municipal horticulture crews are charged with maintaining and watering new trees, residents can also contribute to their health through additional watering, especially during heat waves. 

You can also help preserve the saucer, which is the mulch placed at the base of the tree when it is planted, for at least two years.

Injuries to a tree 

Do not lock your bicycle to a tree or use a tree as a base to hang a poster. These actions may be subject to fines, as they needlessly injure the tree or reduce its lifespan.

If a tree appears to be diseased or damaged, please contact 311.

Montréal’s trees are an invaluable resource: Let’s pull together to protect them.

Quick search