Tree Technical Manual

The City of Guelph has developed a Tree Technical Manual (TTM), a document that guides our efforts in managing Guelph’s urban forest and supports its development and growth. The TTM will establish guidelines, standards and specifications for the preservation, protection and operational activities involving trees on public and private land.

The TTM’s project scope isnot meant to review or revise existing City policies, such as the Official Plan or the Private Tree Bylaw.
Read the draft Tree Technical Manual


Report to Council: June 2019

Staff will present the final Tree Technical Manual for Council approval on June 28, 2019.

Final Tree Technical Manual: Summer 2019

The final Tree Technical Manual will be available online in summer 2019.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Tree Technical Manual?

The tree technical manual establishes guidelines, standards and specifications for the preservation, protection and maintenance of trees as they apply to development, construction and operational activities in various contexts throughout the City on both public and private lands.

The Tree Technical Manual covers:

  • The City’s goals and objectives for maintaining our urban forest
  • Tree-related plans
  • Tree protection
  • Monitoring and implementation
  • Tree planting and maintenance

Why does the City need a Tree Technical Manual?

  • Promote good arboricultural practice;
  • Provide standardization for tree related plans and reports; and
  • Promote effective, long-term retention, maintenance and enhancement of the City’s Urban Forest.

Who is the Tree Technical Manual for?

This manual will be used by City staff, private landowners and developers that perform work or are involved in planning, design and construction in the City of Guelph. The City staff will also use the Tree Technical Manual during the review, evaluation and inspection of any development proposal or City project.

How do I determine what tree-related plans are required for development and plan review?

There are four plans relating to the assessment, protection and planting of trees (and other vegetation) on site that may be required as part of a development or site alteration process. They are:

  1. Tree Inventory and Preservation Plan (TIPP): Required where wooded features and/or individual trees equal to or greater than 10 centimetres measure at 1.4 metres from the ground (diameter at breast height, DBH) may be impacted by proposed development or site alteration, or if the property is regulated by the Tree Bylaw
  2. Landscape Plan (LP): May be required as part of a site plan application and/or other types of development applications
  3. Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP): May be required where trees equal to or greater than 10 centimetres DBH are proposed for removal or are likely to be damaged as a result of the proposed development on properties regulated by the Tree Bylaw or on City-owned property
  4. Street Tree Plan (STP): may be required when trees are planted on or fronting onto City of Guelph streets, streets to be assumed by the City of Guelph, when a general Landscape Plan is not applicable or required, or when street tree planting is on a large scale.

Depending on the nature and scale of the proposal, the TIPP, LP and VCP may be combined. Refer to Section 3 of the TTM for details.

Do I need a permit to carry out work that will damage, destroy or potentially injure a tree?

Yes, damage or destruction of any tree measuring at least 10 centimetres DBH, on lots larger than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres) is prohibited without permission from the City.

Trees on lots 0.2 hectares or smaller are not regulated by the City. Some trees are exempt from the bylaw and can be removed without a permit including dead or dying trees, trees posing danger to life or property, or trees impacted by unforeseen causes or natural events. Please refer to the full list of exemptions in the Tree Bylaw.

How do I get a tree permit?

A Tree Permit Application must be submitted and signed by the property owner or the owner’s agent. Download a fillable application on the City’s Tree By-law webpage.

Does this manual include landscaping standards and guidelines for all types of development?

No. There are additional standards for preparing Landscaping Plans for Site Plan applications are available in the City of Guelph Site Plan Approval Procedures and Guidelines.

Does this manual include information for the preparation of Environmental Impact Studies?

No. You can learn more about preparing an Environmental Impact Studies using our Guidelines for the Preparation of Environmental Impact Studies.

Are there any other City policies or regulations governing trees other than the Tree Technical Manual?

Yes, Tree By-law, Site alteration By-law, Official Plan, Heritage Act RSO 1991, c.018, Development and Landscape Plan Requirements (Site Plan).

Will I be required to financially compensate for or replace trees that been approved for removal?

Compensation is required for properties regulated by the Tree By-law. Refer to Section 5 for details on compensation for approved removals.

What happens if a tree is injured or removed without authorization during construction or development?

In the event of unauthorized injury or removals on properties regulated by the Tree By-law, additional compensation may be required. The method of compensation depends on the type and severity of the injury. Refer to Section 5.2 of the TTM.

What are the recommended street tree species?

Species indigenous to central and southern Ontario are preferred and known to be non-invasive in the City of Guelph. Trees must also be tolerant to urban growing conditions. See Schedule F in the TTM.

Is tree protection required for development and/or construction?

Tree protection may required where there is removal and/or potential injury to trees greater than or equal to 10 centimetres DBH on a property regulated by the Tree Bylaw or on City-owned lands.

Measures to prevent damage to vegetation and encourage optimal tree health must occur before, during and after construction to prevent site degradation in order to minimize or eliminate the negative impacts from construction activity. Development and construction impacts on trees must consider the potential for immediate injury and as well as chronic stress (long term).

Typical types of injury during development activities may include:

  1. Mechanical injury to trunk and crown;
  2. Cutting of roots;
  3. Soil compaction;
  4. Grade changes in soil over root system; and
  5. Alteration of surface drainage and water table.

How is the Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) determined?

TPZ size is determined based on the diameter of the tree trunk at 1.4 metres above grade (DBH). See Schedule C in the TTM.

For more information

Timea Filer, Urban Forestry Field Technologist
Parks Operations and Forestry, Parks and Recreation
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3352