green leaves on tree branches against a sunny blue sky

Trees are important to the health and well-being of our community. The Municipality of Port Hope is committed to protecting our natural canopy, which offers environmental, aesthetic, cultural, and economic benefits.

Distinctive and awesome trees in our community

We love celebrating the beauty and uniqueness that trees have to offer. Contact us to obtain the Trees of Distinction Touring Map and spend time exploring our community and visiting beautiful, unique, and distinct trees.

Planting trees

Planting trees on your property helps improve our local environment. Follow these steps when you are planting a tree.

Choosing a Tree

Take into consideration the size, shape, and maturity of the tree species that you want to plant and make sure to select a tree that will flourish in your local climate, soil, and area. Each species of tree has a different tolerance to:
  • Temperature
  • Soil moisture
  • Wind
  • Light levels
  • Soil conditions
You should also consider the size of the tree. Large trees and shrubs can be overpowering on a small property.

Decide When to Plant

Make sure to plant your tree at the right time of year in order to help it grow. You should plant deciduous trees in the spring as soon as the frost is out of the ground, or in the fall anytime between the leaves falling and the land freezing.
Evergreen, or coniferous trees, should be planted in early spring as soon as the frost is out of the ground until four weeks after deciduous trees have opened their leaves, or in the fall from the first week of August until the end of October.

Minimize Stress to the Tree

It is important that you protect your tree during transport to avoid bruising the bark and breaking twigs, branches, and buds. Here are some steps you can follow:
  • Pad the tree trunk and branches with burlap and tie all loose ends with soft rope or twine
  • Keep the root ball moist and cover exposed bare roots with wet burlap
  • Keep the tree in a cool shady location until it is time to plant

Prepare the Planting Spot

Follow these steps to prepare the planting spot before planting your new tree:
  • Remove grass, weeds, and ground cover within 50 cm of the planting hole (these plants can compete with the tree for water and nutrients)
  • Dig a square hole at least twice as wide as the container or root ball and as deep as the root ball
  • Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole to allow root penetration
  • Gently fill the hole with the same soil that came out of the hole
  • Soil should be moist (not too wet or dry)
If you are planting a bare-root tree, we recommend that you add a cone-shaped mound of soil at the bottom of the hole. This will allow the roots to grow downward and outward into the surrounding soil. 

Prepare and Plant your Tree with Care

You can prepare your tree in a variety of ways. Learn how to prepare the roots for each planting method:

Bare-root Planting

If you are planting a tree with bare roots, loosen the roots with a spray of water and straighten them to prevent doubling-under, crowding, and crossing. Do not expose the roots to direct sunlight or winds.

Place the root crown on the mound and spread over and down the sides of the mound. Then, refill the hole with good quality soil, gently raising and lowering the tree while filling to eliminate air pockets.

Container and Burlap Planting

If you are planting a tree from a container, you should keep the tree in the container until the last possible moment before planting. Trees wrapped in burlap should not be soaked prior to planting. You don’t need to remove the burlap. You can simply loosen the burlap from the roots and it will soon rot away. Roots circling the outside of the root ball should be clipped and roots matted on the bottom should be cut off.

Follow these steps for planting:

  • Plant the tree so that the top of the root ball is flush with the top of the hole
  • Fill the hole in and around the root ball with soil removed from the hole
  • Tamp the soil around the root ball until the hole is two-thirds full
  • Fill the remaining space with water to settle the soil and allow the hole to drain
  • Finish filling the hole with soil and make a ridge of soil around the edge of the hole to direct water towards the roots
If the soil settles after a few days of watering, you may need to add additional soil to refill the planting hole.

Tree care

Make sure that you care for all trees on your property. Follow these tree-care tips to allow your trees to flourish.

Watering

The amount of water a tree needs depends on the type and age of the tree. A newly planted tree requires about 25 L of water for every 2.5 cm of trunk diameter per week. The roots should not dry out. For mature trees (over the age of two), you should water twice a month during the late spring and summer. If your soil contains a lot of clay and water tends to puddle around the tree, lighter watering is recommended to prevent flooding and to ensure that the roots receive enough oxygen to allow the tree to grow.
You should water evergreens more before the freeze to minimize the detrimental effects of winter drying.

Fertilizing

Fertilizer helps trees thrive and resist drought, disease, and insects. Newly planted trees should not be fertilized during the first growing season. Review the benefits of different types of fertilizer:
  • High phosphorus fertilizers help promote root growth
  • High nitrogen fertilizers are best for greening and top growth
  • Slow-acting fertilizers help with mineral uptake when applied from May to July

Staking

Stake your tree only if necessary. If staked, make sure that the stake ties do not cause damage to the bark. You should remove stakes at the end of the second growing season. 

Mulching

Mulching keeps soil temperature fairly steady, retains soil moisture, and helps keep weeds away. Place mulch around the tree and out to the edge of the excavated area. Mulch should be 7.5 cm deep and up to, but not touching the trunk. Wood chips, pine bark, and leaf litter make good mulch mixes. 

Pruning 

Prune your trees sparingly and only if necessary. Remove dead, broken, or diseased branches and roots that are crushed and girdling or growing around the main stem. Removing even a small portion of healthy canopy can actually slow root growth and delay establishment. 

Tree planting and protection policy

Contact us to obtain a copy of the Municipality of Port Hope’s Tree Planting and Protection Policy to learn how we care for trees on municipal property. Trees on our streets and boulevards often encounter damaging or life-threatening conditions specific to the urban environment, these include:

  • Limited space
  • Lack of sufficient water
  • Poor soil conditions
  • Damage caused by humans
  • High temperatures
  • Drying conditions
  • Pollution
  • Insects and disease

Learn how we plan to protect our trees and mitigate these threats.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borers are killing ash trees in the Municipality of Port Hope. If you identify an ash tree with Emerald Ash Borer, it is important that you remove the tree in order to prevent further spread.

For infested ash trees on your property, you can contact a qualified arborist or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Please contact us at 905-885-2431 for Emerald Ash Borer found on a tree on municipal property such as a road allowance or parkland.

Forest Master Plan

View the Forest Master Plan to learn how the Municipality of Port Hope is promoting sustainable tree growth and protecting the forest canopy in our community.

Tree Advisory Committee

Our Tree Advisory Committee promotes the planting, preservation and care of trees throughout the Municipality.