Perhaps you are concerned about your trees falling or limbs falling on your house. A tree is blocking your view or there's too much shade in your yard. Tree pruning is a science as well as it's an art. There's a right and a wrong way to approach these issues.
Can I top my trees?
Topping a tree is not an acceptable pruning technique and is not permitted by all municipalities in the Greater Montreal Area. Topping is the removal of 50% to 100% of the trees head and crown. The tree is left with large wounds that won't heal over, which leads to interior decay. The tree therefore exerts energy to create new growth called water shoots. Multiple poorly attached shoots will rapidly grow just below the decayed topping cuts. The new shoots may grow as much as 20 feet in 1 year which defeats the purpose of topping the tree in the first place. Furthermore, as these branches grow heavier they will be prone to breakage. Topping is the most harmful tree pruning practice known. Topped trees are ugly. Since topping a tree is an unacceptable practice, any damages caused by tree failure could lead to negligence charges in the court of law. Topping a tree is more expensive than pruning it properly and there are hidden expenses such as more frequent maintenance costs due to it's rapid growth.
EXCEPTION: The only exception to the topping rule applies to fruit bearing trees. Fruit trees are usually trained to be dwarfed from a young age, however if you have a large, neglected fruit tree in your yard you may reduce the height slowly over a 3 year period to avoid damaging your tree.
Can I take down my tree?
Most municipalities in the Greater Montreal Area have bylaws prohibiting cutting down trees that have a diameter of 10 cm or more when measured at a height of 1.5 meters from ground level without a city issued permit. There are only a few boroughs who do allow tree removals in private back yards where the tree cannot be seen from the street.
A tree may be removed if is:
Dead or afflicted with an incurable disease
A public health or safety hazard
A severe nuisance or causing property damage
An obstacle to construction of an authorized building
Here is a link to several Montreal boroughs
What can I do to my trees?
A large cut can do more damage than several small cuts. If you want more sun in the house or yard thinning the crown will allow for light to shine through and also let wind pass through the crown which makes the tree more resistant to the elements, therefore safer. Another common practice called elevation is the removal of some of the lower branches, which again helps to let light and sun into your property.
Branches that rub together should be removed. Dead, weak or decayed limbs should be removed. Limbs that interfere with windows, chimneys, wires and buildings should be removed. House roofs should have ample clearance from branches to prevent moisture damage. Any branches interfering with sidewalks and streets should also be removed. Always make a pruning cut at the collar of a branch. Never cut a branch flush to the trunk or leave a stub.
When should I prune my trees?
Pruning for weak, dead or diseased limbs can be performed any time of the year without any adverse effects on trees. To avoid stress on your trees it is best to prune before spring growth flush. Avoid heavy pruning after spring growth, since trees have just expended a lot of energy producing foliage and need to recover. A general rule of thumb is to prune trees during the dormant period.
Links to your borough
Ahuntsic-Cartierville / Anjou / Cote des Neiges-NDG / Lachine / Lasalle / Le Plateau-Mount Royal / Le Sud Ouest / Ile Bizard-Ste Genevieve / Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve / Montreal North / Outremont / Pierrefonds-Roxboro /
Rivieres des Prairies-Pointes aux Trembles / Rosemont-La Petite Patrie / Saint Laurent / Verdun / Ville Marie /