Tree Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

sprouting plants, tree with tree guard blurred in background

Q: What trees should I plant?

So you want to plant a tree on your property… that’s great to hear! But what is the best type of tree to plant? Well, recent thinking says that any tree planted is better than no tree planted; however, there are still certain trees better suited for a Southern Ontario urban environment. Here is an atlas of all types of trees found in Ontario.

Q: There are bugs in my tree! Is that a problem?

Some pests are harmless, but others can cause serious damage. Here is a list of some common pests that can be found in local trees and how to deal with them.

Q: Does my tree have a disease?

Trees can have spots on their leaves or sap running down their trunk. But does it mean the tree is in danger? Here is a list of some common tree diseases that can affect local trees.

Q: I share a tree with my neighbour, but who is responsible for it?

If you have a shared tree on your property line and you want to know ownership specifics, check out this Boundary Trees website for all you need to know about Ontario laws.

If you need more specific details, check out Centre Wellington’s updated Public Forest Policy as well.

Q: Still have questions about your tree or need expert advice?

Visit the Centre Wellington Arborist Association Website to find a certified arborist.

Visit Centre Wellington‘s tree information page for specifics about local information and programs.

Some questions require a tree expert. If you are still wondering about tree health, maintenance, or any other questions contact one of the certified Arborists with the Centre Wellington Arborist Association

Mulching Tips

As important as tree planting, if not more so, is looking after young trees while they get established. We visit as many saplings as we can, weeding, and generally making sure that they a flourishing. When we can, we replace any that have not survived. Watering continues to be our greatest challenge – especially in the summer when young trees can be under stress from a drought.

Neighbourwoods volunteers plant a few trees every year – usually in the fall when rainfall is more reliable. Our sites include the front yard of the Fergus Beer Store, boulevard trees on Watts Street, the trailway behind Elora Public School, Shortreeds Auto Centre, the streetscape at Collins Barrow in Elora, and the road leading to the OPP station on CR 18.


Benefits of Mulch

Properly applied mulch under a tree has a myriad of benefits:

  • it protects trees from whipper snipper damage
  • it keeps roots cool and moist
  • it reduces weeds that compete for water (especially this summer)

Properly is key here:

  • too much and rain and air can’t get down to the roots
  • too high and it can rot the trunk

Sometimes contractors use volcano mulch mounds to camouflage the root ball which means that the tree was not planted deep enough.

Tree Tips

WRONG Way To Mulch

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Tree Tips

RIGHT Way To Mulch

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Pruning Tips

Why Prune in the First Place: There are endless benefits to pruning, for the owner and the tree. Pruning makes the tree safer to be around, it improves the health and longevity of the tree, improve crop yield (of a fruit bearing tree), and can improve the appearance of the tree.

The Sooner the Better: When pruning trees, it’s best to do so when the tree is young and vigorous. You will make smaller wounds and work will lighter and smaller branches, which will be much easier to manage – for you and the tree.

When to Prune: It is often thought that there is a season to begin pruning all your trees – but this isn’t entirely true. Yes, if you prune your trees in early spring this will allow the tree to grow and recover throughout the summer – but trees are not very picky. Arborists say that you can prune your trees all year round. However, fall is not the most ideal time because healing is slower.

How Much to Prune: The general rule of pruning is to never prune more than 25% of entire the tree in one season. Any more and you risk putting too much stress on your tree.

Tree Tips

What Branches to Prune: A good rule to follow is to find you ‘leading’ branch on your tree. All of the main side-branches around the leader should be at least 1/3 smaller than the leading branch. Another point to consider when pruning try to encourage the side branches to grow in an upwards angle – a quick way to remember is 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Also, make sure that you prune any branches that are opposite to each other. It is important to ensure that your tree is symmetrical 360° around – this helps your tree stay balanced.

diagram illustrating which branches to prune

The Branch Collar: when pruning, it is very important to be aware of the branch collar. This is a part of the trunk, which wraps around and gives support to the branch. When pruning, make sure to cut in front of the branch collar – otherwise you will cut into the trunk and damage your tree.

diagram of the branch collar, and its various parts

Pruning Cuts: when cutting a branch – especially large and heavy branches – it is important to make a series of cuts so that the branch does not rip. Make one under the branch, and then start cutting the branch further out. This will ensure that when the branch falls, it doesn’t take the branch collar and trunk with it. Finally, make a clean-cut close to the branch collar.

diagram of labelled pruning cuts

What to Watch Out For: Some worrisome branches to look out for are: crossing branches, sprouting branches, hanging branches and broken limbs. Crossing branches will continue to grow and create more trouble once they are larger – it’s easy to prune one branch away when the tree is young. Sprouting branches (or “sprouters”) are quick growth the tree produces due to an injury – these branches will not be stable and should be pruned before they get too big. Hanging and broken branches are dangerous and should be taken down or pruned ASAP!

diagram of things to watchout for while pruning: hanging branch, broken limb, water sprout, crossing branches

When to Stop Pruning: Pruning can be dangerous. Make sure that you are taking precautions – not using tools on ladders, wearing protective head and eye gear, using the proper tools for the proper cuts. It is never a bad idea to call in a professional – especially when you’re working with larger trees and larger branches.

common protective equipment for arborists

What to Do Post-Pruning: Is there any way to help my tree heal after I prune it? The answer is: leave the tree alone. Trees are great at recovering from wounds and injury – so all you need to do is let your tree be.

Go-To Tools for Pruning: The right tools are important to ensure the best cut and the health of your tree. Pruning shears – specifically bypass pruners – are great for any stems or branches under ¾ of an inch thick. Loppers are the next step up, with a thicker blade and a larger handle. They’re great for stems up to 2 ½ inches thick. Pruning saws can take on branches from 1 ½ to 5 inches in diameter. Finally, pole pruners are great for branches that are too high to reach and can handle branches up to 2 ½ inches thick. Always remember to be careful and take your time when pruning.

Pruning Resources: Here are some great websites with more information about pruning your trees!

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