Tree planting

the words "tree planting program" next to an image of greenspace and a path with trees planted along it

The municipality’s annual tree planting program ensures the continued health of our urban forest and contributes to our climate action goals.

In 2023, HRM planted 2,600 trees throughout right-of-way spaces and other municipally-owned land.

Residents may request trees on municipal land by contacting 311. Requests will be considered for planting in a future season but are not guaranteed. To maintain a healthy urban forest, the municipality plants a variety of species to ensure tree diversity and resiliency. This species list is adapted on an ongoing basis. 

Right-of-way spaces are ideal locations for trees, providing many environmental and social benefits, such as reducing heat effects, improving stormwater management and providing enjoyable outdoor spaces for recreational use. Although trees may compete for the same space as power lines, properly pruned and managed trees pose little risk to power infrastructure.

The municipality manages tree health in our urban forest through a cyclical tree pruning program, as well as a reactive pruning program through which residents may report trees that require maintenance by contacting 311.

Tree planting supports Regional Council-approved initiatives, including the Urban Forest Management Plan and HalifACT.

Frequently asked questions

Why is the municipality planting trees?

Trees provide many environmental and social benefits in alignment with the municipality’s Urban Forest Management Plan. Trees are critical public infrastructure and planting trees is a key component of growing our urban forest and replacing lost canopy.

Trees are:

  • An air filter for the municipality
  • Our protection from heat
  • Habitat for pollinators and migratory birds
  • Key to combating climate change
  • Integral to the health of our watersheds
  • A factor in improving health and emotional wellness
  • An effective traffic calming tool and safety barrier between cars and pedestrians
Why does the municipality plant trees under power lines?

The municipality recognizes the importance of balancing the need for reliable electrical service with the need for an environmentally sustainable urban forest in the municipality. Planting trees near and under power lines is a function of creating and maintaining the urban forest, just as having power infrastructure in the right-of-way, in proximity to trees is a function of creating and maintaining a reliable electrical service for residents of the municipality.

While there is limited space within the road right-of-way, it is within this space that trees provide their greatest benefit, and one of the only locations within the municipality where trees are protected by a by-law, and actively maintained such that they will continue to provide these benefits long into maturity. 

The municipality selects certain species, approved by Nova Scotia Power, to be planted under lines. These tree species are either small form, conducive to directional pruning, and/or slow growing, making them less likely to break in storms. 

Do I have to take care of the tree in front of my home?

No, the municipality assumes responsibility for the tree. The tree should not be tampered with in any way (pruning, addition of fertilizer or more mulch, removal of stakes/tethers); however, you are welcome to water the tree if you wish. If at any time you notice an issue with the tree, please contact 311.

I don’t like the new tree in front of my home. Can it be removed or relocated?

The municipality reserves the right to plant on public property and assumes responsibility to care for the tree and replace it if needed. The tree was planted with an intended purpose, as per the implementation strategy of the municipality’s Urban Forest Management Plan.

Why doesn’t the municipality provide direct notice to homeowners about a tree being planted in front of their home?

Each tree is planted with an intended purpose, whether this be to increase canopy coverage in certain neighbourhoods, even out the age distribution of trees, diversify species, take advantage of good growing conditions, create a buffer between traffic and pedestrians, etc. With these larger goals in mind, it is important that the municipality reserves its right to plant on public property. Therefore, in the process of implementing the Urban Forest Master plan, providing direct notice to each homeowner is a redundant use of resources.

Can I choose which species is planted?

While we consider species requests, we do not guarantee them. Tree species are strategically selected, and may be based on site conditions, nursery stock availability, overhead power infrastructure, and/or species diversity targets.

Why was a tree planted in front of my neighbours home and not mine?

This could be for a few different reasons. Firstly, underground infrastructure (primarily water and sewer laterals) often run through right-of-way space, meaning that the ground cannot be dug/a tree cannot be installed at many locations in the right of way space. Secondly, this may be part of a long-term goal to achieve age class diversity on a given street. Having a diverse age structure can help to buffer the urban forest against stressors that impact trees at different life stages. 

Will the tree in front of my home damage underground infrastructure?

For newly planted trees, underground locates are obtained for each tree planted in the right of way space in order to avoid infrastructure conflict. Tree roots will not damage properly functioning sewer systems or drains. Roots will only enter degrading drains or drains that have been damaged. Once they enter, they can cause the drain to back up. However, it is not the tree itself that has caused the damage, and the roots in the drain are only a symptom of damaged or degrading infrastructure. 

Tree roots are not know to cause damage to water lines.