Private Tree Protection

Child reading under a tree

Child reading under a tree

The rules for removing trees on private property have changed. As of May 2, 2017, property owners must apply for a permit and on-site consultation before removing any tree that has a trunk measuring 15 cm or larger in diameter (5.9 inches in width).

Protecting our urban forest

The urban forest is made up of all the trees growing in Oakville, including town-owned street and park trees, trees in forested areas, as well as trees on private property.

We’ve strengthened our private tree protection by-law to help us preserve healthy trees and protect our community’s urban forest. If you’re making home or garden renovations, consider ways to make your trees part of your plan.

Need to remove a tree? You might need a permit. Fill out our simple online Private Tree Removal Permit Application and receive an on-site consultation from one of our tree inspectors.


  • Any tree that measures 15 cm or more in diameter.
  • Dead and high risk trees, ash trees, and buckthorn require a permit but are exempt from fees.
  • Any tree that is part of a site plan.
  • Any hedge with stems that measure 15 cm or more in diameter.


  • Any tree that measures less than 15 cm in diameter.
  • Emergency tree removal (where there is immediate risk for the tree (or part of the tree) to cause serious injury or damage to people or property). You don’t need a permit for an emergency tree removal, but you must notify the town as soon as possible. Contact:

Ian Wagner
Supervisor, Forest Protection
905-845-6601, ext. 2846

To apply for a private tree removal permit:

  1. Complete our short online application form.
  2. A tree inspector from our Forestry Section will contact you within five business days to arrange an on-site consultation to review your tree removal request.

Depending on reason for removal, please have the following documents ready for the site visit:

  • Arborist report (from certified arborist)
    • If removing a high risk tree
    • If request is part of an engineering permit application (such as for pools, landscaping or other property construction projects)
  • Signed letter of authorization from property owner. Review a sample Declaration of Property Owner letter.
    • If applying on behalf of the property owner
  • Signed letter of consent from neighbouring property owner. Review a sample Declaration of Adjacent Property Owner letter.
    • If removing a tree on a shared property line
  1. If we approve your application, we will notify you when your permit is ready to be picked up. Once notified, take your fees and security deposit to ServiceOakville, Town Hall, 1225 Trafalgar Road to receive your permit.
  2. For dead or high risk trees, ash trees, or buckthorn where no fees are required, the tree inspector will leave the permit with you at the site visit.
  3. Post your permit on the site where the trees are being removed for five days prior to and including day of removal.

NOTE: It is the property owner's responsibility to hire a professional arborist to remove a tree. Town employees do not remove trees from private property. 

Permit fees include consultation and administration and are non-refundable.

  • $50 - Non-refundable fee for the first tree removed (15 to 24 cm DBH) in a 12-month period.
  • $325 - Non-refundable fee for each additional tree, and trees that are larger than 24 cm DBH.
  • No fee - Dead and high risk trees, ash trees, and buckthorn require a permit but are exempt from fees.
  • Security deposit - Tree replacement and security deposit may be a condition of removal. The security deposit will be refunded once a final inspection of the replacement plantings is complete.

As a condition of the permit, one tree must be planted for every 10 cm DBH of healthy tree removed.

A $300 security deposit is required for each tree to be planted. The security deposit will be refunded once a final inspection of the replacement plantings is complete.

Replacement trees must be planted on the same property as those removed. Where it is not possible to properly grow replacement trees on the site, the security deposit may be donated to the town to plant on nearby town property.

The minimum tree replacement size is a 30-mm caliper (3 cm width) deciduous tree, or a 150-cm high coniferous tree in a five-gallon container, balled in burlap, or in a wire basket.

Dead and high risk/hazardous trees, ash trees, and buckthorn require a permit but are exempt from fees.

Diameter at breast height (DBH) is a standard measurement for the size of a tree.

How do I measure DBH?

  1. Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your tree (like measuring your waist) at 137 cm (4.5 feet) above the ground level (this is an average person’s breast height).
  2. Use a calculator to divide the number by 3.14. This will give you the diameter (width of the tree trunk).

Note: If your tree measures 47 cm or less around its trunk (its circumference) at 137 cm above ground level, then the tree is considered to be less than 15 cm DBH (5.9 inches in width) and you do not need a permit to remove it.

Did you know?

About half of Oakville’s urban forest is on private property. Trees benefit everyone. They:

  • clean the air we breathe
  • cool our homes
  • add beauty to our neighbourhoods
  • increase property values
  • reduce soil erosion
  • provide food and habitat for wildlife

Your trees matter. There are many native species perfect for planting in Oakville. When planting a tree on your property, learn which trees are native to Ontario and which are the best species to plant where you live. Visit the Ontario Tree Atlas website. For more planting and tree maintenance tips visit the tree planting page.

Ownership of a tree is determined by the location of the tree. Regardless of who planted the tree, the owner of the land upon which a tree is situated is also the owner of that tree. With that ownership comes the responsibility to care for and maintain the health of the tree.

For more information

Visit the Tree Protection and Removal page or contact:

TTY: 905-338-4200

Ian Wagner
Supervisor, Forest Protection
905-845-6601, ext. 2846