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Common Tree Myths for Homeowners in Toronto

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Common Tree Problems » Common Tree Myths for Homeowners in Toronto

Common Tree Myths for Homeowners in Toronto

Think you know your trees? Many homeowners are familiar with the sight of their home’s trees but know little about them and how to care for them. Homeowner tree myths are rampant! We break down some of the most common homeowner tree care myths we hear from Toronto residents.

Trees Don’t Need Maintenance

 You only need to do anything with your tree if there’s something obviously wrong, right? Not exactly. It may seem unnecessary, but regular pruning every couple years helps keep trees healthy and thriving. 

Treatments such as fertilizing also help keep your trees looking good. Trees in the city can be deficient in nutrients they’d get in the wild from other plants and decomposing plant matter, so fertilizing helps restore these nutrients. There are many issues that can affect tree health throughout their life cycle.

Norway maple branch fell on house

I Can Do What I Want With a Tree on My Property

One of the biggest myths about homeowner tree care is that people can do whatever they like with trees on their property. In fact, many of the trees Toronto homeowners think of as “their” trees aren’t theirs at all – they’re city property on the municipal road allowance. That means the city is responsible for maintenance, planting, and removal. Unless you have a very deep front yard, it’s very likely that trees in front of your house are “street trees” that are the city’s responsibility. Ontario sets standards for municipal road allowances throughout the province, so check your municipal guideline if you live elsewhere in the GTA.

For other trees, homeowners aren’t just allowed to cut down a tree because they feel like it. The city has to approve a removal and issue a permit with good reason.This can include trees that are dying, diseased, or invasive species, and trees that are in the way of planned construction (where unavoidable. In each case, Toronto homeowners are required to plant a new tree on the property or pay a replacement fee.

If Your Tree Looks Healthy, It’s Fine

It can be hard for the average person to spot an issue with a tree. Part of this is obvious: if it’s a big tree, most of us literally can’t see that much of it without climbing up or another way to view the upper branches and canopy of a tree. What looks fine from the ground may conceal browning leaves and uneven growth high up.

Most homeowners also aren’t specialists at examining trees. Arborists are experts in spotting and diagnosing tree conditions. We can see potential issues like dead or dying branches, uneven growth patterns, root or pest damage.

Regular pruning helps get expert eyes on your tree and can help you catch any other issues early.

If Your Tree Looks Unhealthy, It Needs to Be Cut Down

Not always true! This is one of the biggest myths in tree care. Our goal is to ensure tree health and prescribe maintenance when possible. A qualified arborist can assess an unhealthy-looking tree and recommend the best course of action. A tree may need pruning to remove unhealthy or hazardous branches or encourage new growth. 

Diagnosing a fungal or insect infestation can allow arborists to treat a tree and nurse it back to health. In some cases, adding cabling or bracing can give enough support to a tree to preserve it. And sometimes, fertilizing or soil testing prior to treatment can help determine if a tree is lacking in nutrients and provide improved soil quality to bring it back to health. 

When removal is necessary for health, safety, construction or other reasons it should go ahead – but there may be other options to save it.

Tall trees on a toronto street ready for tree fertilizer

Your Tree Is “Too Tall”

Tall trees aren’t necessarily unsafe. The bigger issue is usually that the trees needed maintenance pruning to ensure proper growth, or they were too aggressively pruned resulting in a stretching, heavy top with pockets of rot up the trunk. Since trees do not heal their wounds like us, every time they are cut is an opportunity to introduce rot or structural defects that can have a long term impact on the health and safety of the tree.

Trees know how to grow on their own terms – there isn’t a point at which they turn into a giant precarious Jenga tower. Different tree species have different ranges of growth, and many Ontario trees can grow quite tall. However, this is most likely for older trees, as newly-planted trees in urban areas don’t typically grow as high as trees that were planted before an area became built up. Tall old growth trees contribute greatly to beauty and air quality in our urban neighbourhoods.

If a tree is healthy and well-maintained, its height should never be a problem. If, however, branches are breaking off or the tree shows signs of dying off, then your tall tree could have a problem – just like with a short tree. 

Whatever your tree’s height is, that’s when it’s time to call an arborist!

Your Neighbour’s Tree Is Causing Problems and You’re Stuck With It

Complaints about neighbours’ trees – like all sorts of complaints about neighbours – are common. In most cases, you have the ability to prune any branches of your neighbour’s tree that are overhanging your own property, as long as it won’t cause structural damage to the tree. That’s where an arborist comes in! However, it’s best to keep things neighbourly and see if your neighbour wants to handle having the tree pruned themselves, or if not, to at least have them on board with you hiring someone to prune the part overhanging your yard.

However, if the problem is leaves, fruit, acorns, needles, et cetera, shedding from high-up branches overhanging your neighbour’s yard….we’re afraid you’re out of luck. Acorns aren’t required to respect property lines. There are lots of good deals on rakes and brooms at this time of year!

Home Insurance Covers Tree Maintenance

For most homeowners, you’ll be paying the cost of tree care directly. The exception may be in an emergency event, such as a tree breaking during a storm, a branch collapsing on your house, etc. In these cases, normally you’ll contact both an arborist and your insurance company and submit a quote for review. Arborists don’t bill directly through insurance companies.

Home insurance doesn’t typically cover things like pruning, planting, or removal of healthy or at-risk but not imminently dangerous trees. That’s why we understand that tree care can be a big decision and expenditure for homeowners!

Homeowner Tree Truths

One big truth is that it pays off having a good arborist! We keep your property looking good, keep your trees healthy, and are there if it’s time for one to go (or if adverse weather makes that decision). Looking for a reliable arborist to be in your home contractor roster? Talk to us at Vista Tree.

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
John & Sonja
They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

They were straightforward with the plan - clear and precise, ensuring that I was well informed of the process and outcome. The execution was meticulous and exceeded my expectations. Moreover, the cleanliness post-service was remarkable, leaving no trace of debris or disruption.

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I had peace of mind and very happy with Vista. I highly recommend them to those in need of reliable and thorough tree management service.
I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
Leaside neighbours take note!! Exceptional and professional service from start to finish. The team at Vista Tree Management responded to an urgent and critical situation. They were efficient, skilled and courteous. They handled the tree removal with precision and left our backyard immaculate. I highly recommend this team for your tree removal needs. They beat the competition by $1000+
James and his team did a great job pruning and trimming our old silver maple. James answered all my questions, provided expert advice and had his team do the work shortly after. The workers were professional, cleaned the space well, and were really efficient. Would definitely recommend Vista Tree management!
James was great! Very professional and you can definitely tell he knows what he’s talking about. They provided a quote in a timely manner booked us in for the tree pruning within a few days afterwards. The job was done quickly, professionally and the crew was friendly and polite. They cleaned up everything once the work was completed. Highly recommend!
Safe, fast, personable team - did a great job with tree trimming and removal! Note: the removal of a tree was not on the original scope and they still made it happen!
By the end of the day, I wouldn’t have even known they were there.
Very Happy with the professional advice and service we received from Vista which was promptly done. The follow-up to ensure we were happy with the work was appreciated.
Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
Great service from a great crew of people! The team was amazing from consulting on best ways to tackle the project, safely removing the trees and making sure the job was done to satisfaction. Would highly recommend and definitely use them again.
These guys are incredibly professional and by far the best arborist that have visited our home. And we've had many!

What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

Truly appreciate your hard work and will highly recommend you in the future!
After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
These guys are the best! Very professional, easy to work with and very nice people.
James was amazing in communication and and arranging everything. He is a wonderful person and professional. I had 4 different companies for the quotes and Vista Tree were the best by every criteria I had in mind. After the work was done they cleaned the whole territory even the mess that was here before them. I would definitely recommend them and will call them again when I need any tree work done. Thanks!

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