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Tree Care and Pruning

Most tree pruning does not require a permit and only trees deemed as "significant" require one. "Significant" trees can be found in our Surrey Tree Protection Bylaw. However, all protected trees must be pruned to arboricultural standards.

Trees on your property


Fines are levied by the City for trees that are damaged or excessively pruned. Pruning is deemed excessive when more than 30% of a tree's foliage has been removed or the tree has been damaged, killed or made hazardous by said pruning. No more than 25% of a tree's foliage should be removed in a year, to a maximum of 30% of the foliage over the lifetime of the tree.

To ensure that your tree is pruned properly, hire an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified arborist to do the pruning for you. The City of Surrey has put together a list of ISA certified arborists that work in the Surrey area. You are not required to hire someone from this list, however, the arborists listed are familiar with Surrey's Bylaws and will ensure that the pruning they do on your trees is in accordance with those bylaws. When looking for your own arborist, it is important to ask if the person is 

  • ISA certified,
  • if they have insurance,
  • and if they are familiar with the City's bylaws.

For assistance in removing large branches and woody plant material from your property, there are branch chipping services available through the City of Surrey. Please contact our Engineering Department at 604-591-4152 for further information.


Topping is the cutting or removal of the whole tops of trees, including large branches, trunks and/or the main leader. Topping is harmful to trees and is not a permitted practice on protected trees within the City of Surrey. If your tree was  previously topped, you are allowed to re-top it back to its previous topping point.

Neighbouring trees

Residents are within their rights to trim back branches on neighbouring trees to the property line as long as they are pruned to industry standards and do not damage, kill or make the tree hazardous. Any arrangements made regarding carrying out the work or payment is a matter that needs to be worked out between neighbours. The City does not get involved in this aspect.

The ISA website is a great resource for more information on tree care and pruning practices. For questions about private property trees, call the Trees and Landscape line at 604-591-4675. Follow the directions on the voicemail and someone will return your call the following day.