Free Tree Giveaway

To encourage tree planting in our city, we’re giving away free trees to residents on Saturday, September 24, 2022.

Three native tree species are available to choose from, while supplies last. Each are approximately one metre tall (two gallon containers). 

Complete the form to request your tree!  NOTE: Registration opens Friday, Sept. 16 from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. or until we run out, whichever comes first.

Plant a tree on your property to improve air quality, fight climate change and increase property value. 

Rules and eligibility

  • Must be a City of Cambridge resident
  • One (1) tree per address, while supplies last
  • Tree must be planted on private property (we suggest side or backyard)
  • Residents are responsible for planting, watering, and maintaining the tree
  • Call or click before you dig -

There are four trees to choose from:


Tulip tree


  • Large deciduous tree native to Eastern North America, Carolinian forests
  • Fast growing tree
  • Yellow and orange, tulip-shaped flowers
  • Seeds are a source of food for birds and small mammals
  • Up to 25 metre height / 15 metre spread
  • Plant in full sun
  • Best in sand and sandy loam, deep, rich and moist soil
  • Requires a lot of water during summer months

Where to Plant

  • Very large tree for street or backyard planting
  • Areas with ample open space
  • Plant at least 10 metres from a building or other tree
 Eastern Flowering Dogwood

 Eastern Flowering Dogwood tree


  • Small, slow growing tree that reaches 3-10 metres in height and 4-7 metres wide
  • Flowering dogwood is easily recognized in spring when four large white flower-like bracts appear before the leaves expand.
  • Leaves are opposite, simple, often with wavy edges and turn red in the fall
  • The bark of larger trees is brownish-grey and separated into scales, giving it the appearance of alligator skin.
  • Tiny yellow flowers grow in clusters at the ends of small branches and are surrounded by four large, showy white leaves that look like petals.
  • The fruits are also bright red, in clusters of two to six and may persist after the leaves have fallen
  • The red fruits are bitter and inedible to humans but are enjoyed by many birds and small mammals in the fall. 
  • Prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soils

Where to Plant

  • Small specimen tree for street or understory planting
  • Naturalized planting to attract birds and small mammals
  • Areas where space is limited
  • Plant at least 6 metres from a building or other tree
  • Used as an ornamental and many horticultural cultivars exist
  • Prefers light shade or full sun with ample moisture
 Eastern Redbud (not available)

 Eastern Redbud tree


  • Small tree, 4-8 metres high and 5-7 metres wide
  • Rounded, spreading crown and forking branches
  • Twigs are slender and zig-zagged
  • Older bark is scaly and reddish-brown with orange-red patches
  • In fall, leaves turn yellow.
  • Eastern redbud's pink flowers offer one of the most colourful springtime displays.
  • Flowers before the leaves emerge

Where to Plant

  • Small specimen tree for street or understory planting
  • Areas where space is limited
  • Plant at least 6 meters from a building or other tree
  • Used as an ornamental in parks, front yards and boulevards
  • Prefers light shade or full sun with ample moisture
 Downy Serviceberry (not available)

 Downy Serviceberry tree


  • Medium growing deciduous shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth
  • Grows to about 6 metres tall and 3-4 metres wide
  • The bark is gray and smooth but streaked with longitudinal fissures; often with a reddish cast
  • Leaves are oval or round, less than 8cm long, with fine teeth on the edges
  • Clusters of white flowers appear in spring and tasty berries ripen early to mid-summer
  • Small, edible berries are reddish-purple
  • The deciduous leaves of downy service-berry may turn wine-red in fall
  • A good choice for attracting birds to your yard

Where to Plant

  • Small specimen tree for street or understory planting
  • Areas where space is limited
  • Plant at least 6 meters from a building or other tree
  • Used as an ornamental in parks, front yards and boulevards
  • Prefers shade to full sun  
  • Adaptable to different soil conditions, but grows best in moist, deep, well-drained soils 


Pick up information

If you have registered for a tree and are a Cambridge resident, you can pick it up:

Date: Saturday, September 24, 2022
Location: Bishop St. Operations Centre – 1310 Bishop Street North (enter from Bishop Street)
Time:  8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (rain or shine). This is a drive-thru, contactless pick up.

Note: Please bring proof or your name and address to verify your tree selection at pick up.



Private Tree Permit

A permit is required to remove, cut down or in any other way injure a tree with a diameter of 20cm (8 inches) or more on private property. The tree diameter measurement must be taken at 1.4m (4.5 feet or approximately at chest height) above ground level. It applies to trees on all land use types including single family residential properties.

Private Tree Exemptions

A tree that is dead or imminently hazardous does not require a permit however, the applicant must send a detailed Arborist report via email to for review and acceptance as a hazard tree prior to tree removal.

NOTE: A storm damaged tree or a tree that presents an immediate hazardous condition may be removed to reduce risk or (further) damage. An Arborist report with clear photos of the hazard must be submitted within 48 hours of the tree hazard abatement. A report that does not clearly show the hazard will not be exempted and a permit will be required based on the stump size of the tree removed.

How to Obtain a Private Tree Removal Permit

You can apply for a Private Tree Removal permit online by visiting the Cambridge permits webpage. Permit application fees are non-refundable and payable before submitting the application. Do not apply for a permit if your tree may be a hazard as it may be exempt (see private tree exemption information above). Refunds will not be issued for permit applications submitted for hazard trees that are exempt from a permit.

Completing and submitting a permit application for tree injury or destruction does not guarantee that a permit will be granted.

The following items must be submitted with all permit applications:

For Four or fewer trees:

  1. Permit Application Fee - $47.84 (fee is non-refundable).

  2. Online Permit Application Cambridge Permits.

  3. An Arborist Report Guidelines for Completion of an Arborist Report.

  4. A completed Supplementary Permit Application Form.

  5. 2 photos of the tree(s) to be injured or destroyed (if not included in the Arborist Report).

  6. Permission from neighbor(s) for boundary trees.

For greater than Four trees:

  1. Permit Application Fee - $47.84 (fee is non-refundable).

  2. Online Permit Application Cambridge Permits.

  3. An Arborist Report Guidelines for Completion of an Arborist Report.

  4. A completed Supplementary Permit Application Form

  5. A Landscape/Replanting Plan (if required for greater than 4 trees).

  6. Tree Protection Plan (if required for greater than 4 trees).

  7. Site Plan - for applications which involve construction, existing trees must be accurately plotted on the site .

Applications and any additional forms required must either be mailed or hand delivered to Service Cambridge. Faxed or scanned documents are NOT accepted at this time.

Note: Payment must be in the form of a certified check, bank draft, debit or credit card (MasterCard or Visa) and can be paid at the Service Cambridge counter at City Hall. Online payments only accept Visa or Master Card up to a $10,000 limit.  If submitting a Letter of Credit, please use the template provided.

You may not proceed with the injury or removal of the tree(s) until you have received the permit. More information can be found by viewing the Cambridge Private Tree By-Law (124-18).

Urban forest planning

Urban Forestry is the careful care and management of tree populations in urban settings. Forestry helps improve the environment and raises awareness about how important trees are to the City of Cambridge's infrastructure. Urban foresters plant and maintain trees, support appropriate tree and forest preservation, conduct research and promote the many benefits trees provide.

Learn about trees and yards in Cambridge.

The City of Cambridge has an Urban Forest Plan (2015 to 2034) and the Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan, both approved by Council on June 16, 2015.

Development Applications and Tree Management Plans

Developers are required to submit a Tree Management Plan and follow the Tree Management Policies and Guidelines.

The Tree Management Plan (TMP) will inventory trees, assess their condition, note tree removals, and identify trees to be retained through the grading and construction process and their protection measures. City Forestry Services reviews TMPs and applicants should pay special attention to street trees that are regulated by the City's Tree By-law (City's Tree By-law 71-06, includes amendment By-law 21-068), trees that straddle property lines or are on the applicant's property but close to boundaries, and trees on neighbouring properties and whether they will be impacted by grading/construction, and proposed measures to protect them if they will likely be impacted. Applicants are encouraged to complete a TMP as early as possible to inform site design or the Zoning By-law public meeting and process, or as a required condition on a grading permit or development application.

Urban Canopy Assessment Report

In December 2013, Council received the Cambridge Urban Forest Canopy Assessment Report, Assessment Maps Part 1 and Assessment Maps Part 2, which show:

  • Cambridge has an overall canopy of 27 per cent tree coverage
  • Various neighbourhoods range in tree coverage from 5 to 47 percent
  • A further 25 per cent increase in tree coverage is possible through tree planting initiatives

The report also demonstrated that trees provide us with many valuable ecosystem services, including:

  • Energy conservation
  • Stormwater management
  • Air pollution removal

View the Canopy Assessment area mapping to see current canopy coverage, potential areas for planting and ecosystem services for 38 neighbourhoods and every lot in the City of Cambridge.

Trees and our health

Urban Forestry is also important to the City of Cambridge because mature tress provide shade, which helps protect our health. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada. Shade can reduce ultraviolet exposure by as much as 75 per cent and has been shown to be an effective strategy to reduce skin cancer. With increasing skin cancer rates and summer high temperatures combined with paved surfaces, the shade provided by trees (or other shade structures) is more important than ever.


Providing shade in Cambridge

The City of Cambridge Official Plan contains policies for providing shade in both private and public spaces. The City is committed to providing shade wherever possible, such as in our parks. We'll increase shaded areas in the City in partnership with:

According to the Official Plan, developers may need to participate in shade/sunlight audits and provide increased shade through:

  • Landscape Plans
  • Site Plan Agreements
  • Tree Management Processes

For more information about increasing shade in the community, view the following documents: