Street Trees - Pruning and Planting

The benefits of street trees

Street trees are an important part of any City and provide a range of benefits. Trees may increase property values, reduce heat in our suburbs and promote wellbeing. Trees clean the air, create natural screens and provide habitat. They act as wind and noise buffers and reduce the need for artificial cooling in adjacent buildings.

Street tree planting

Under the City’s street tree planting program, you can have one tree planted in the verge at the front of your property. 

Up to three street trees may be planted on verges bordering the side property line of a residential lot, if the location is suitable. Exceptionally long wide verges may qualify for additional trees.

If you would like a tree planted on your verge, please contact us.

A City officer will contact you within five working days to discuss the type of tree(s) to be planted. The City will determine the most appropriate location for the planting and will cover the cost of purchasing and planting the tree.

Street tree planting FAQs 

What type of tree can I request?

You will generally be offered a tree that is the same or similar to those already on your street. If there isn’t an existing dominant species, a suitable species will be recommended.

Tree types are selected according to:

  • Environmental conditions
  • Their ability to create shade
  • Conflicts or risks they may pose for residents and their property
  •  Available space within the verge
  • Proximity to intersections
  • Any potential future interference with electricity, gas, water, telephone and sewage.
When and where will the tree be planted?
Trees are typically planted during the winter period, which starts in May and ends in September. This gives the tree the greatest chance of survival.

Street trees can only be planted in verges in positions where they won’t impact on services such as gas, water, sewage and electricity. Pedestrian safety and vehicle line of site are also factors to be considered.

Trees are usually planted on the front verge between 2.4 and 3m from the property boundary. Trees are not planted within six metres of a road junction or intersection if deemed to be a safety issue.
Am I responsible for caring for the tree?
You are encouraged to water newly planted trees for at least two summers. The City will undertake all other maintenance for trees planted and growing in street verges.

Street tree removal

Removal of street trees without Council consent is prohibited under the Local Government Act (1995) and there are fines of up to $2,000.

If the City has resolved to allow the removal of a tree at the request of an adjacent property owner, or if the tree needs to be removed because of planning, building or other approval:
  • The property owner who made the request for removal shall bear the full cost
  • The tree will not be removed until the City has received payment for the full cost of removal
  • The tree shall be dismantled to the ground, removed from the site and the stump shall be ground out
  • The tree shall be removed by a suitable contractor engaged by the City for the purpose
  • The City will plant a replacement tree suitable for the location, within six months of removing the original tree at their cost.

Street tree removal FAQs

What are the acceptable reasons for street tree removal?
Council will not permit the removal of trees on verges unless they are:
  • Dead or in a state of decline to the point that survival is unlikely
  • Structurally unsound, to the point of constituting imminent danger to people or property
  • Damaging or likely to damage property, where alternatives to prevent damage are not possible as determined by the City.
  • Part of a tree replacement program
  • Obstructing a Council approved works program, such as road and drainage works.
Why should I have to pay full cost for the removal of a tree on Council land?
The City regards street trees as being highly desirable and integral to the urban landscape, providing a range of social, environmental and economic advantages. They are considered to be a primary part of the public landscape affecting and benefiting all residents within a locality.

If, at the request of an adjacent resident, the Council resolves to remove a tree that does not meet the requirements for removal listed in position statement PSEW15 Removal and Pruning of Trees (see ‘Related documents’), it has determined that the requestor shall cover the cost of removal and not the broader community.
 
Why can't I arrange to remove the tree myself?
Because of the limited space in street verges, trees usually occupy the same area as underground services such as gas, water, sewage, drainage, electricity and telephones. In addition, trees are usually growing quite close to footpaths, driveways and road kerbs.

In the event that persons inexperienced in the removal of trees use unconventional techniques to remove them, extensive damage can inadvertently occur to these services causing widespread inconvenience to others in the neighbourhood.

You could also be held liable for any damages caused by your actions.
Why is there a problem with cutting down a tree and planting another in its place, particularly if I am prepared to pay for it?
It's not the cost, it's the time. Environmental, social and economic benefits of trees generally increase over time as the trees mature. Unlike man-made structures such as walls and paths, which can be removed and replaced almost immediately, a twenty-year old tree takes twenty years of growth time to replace.

Street tree pruning and maintenance

Pruning of street trees without the City’s consent is prohibited under the Local Government Act (1995) and there are fines of up to $2,000.
Trees should be allowed to develop their natural canopy and will generally not be pruned. Where pruning is essential, it will be approved and undertaken by the City or a nominated contractor and will be carried out in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4373 - 1996, Pruning of Amenity Trees, and for the express purposes of:
  • Providing clearance for pedestrian movement 
  • Improving the safety, structure and health of the tree 
  • Maintaining clearances for utility services, eg power lines
  • Improving vehicle driver's line of sight along vehicle carriageways
  • Preventing branches encroaching into neighbouring property from public property.
If you think a tree on the street verge requires pruning or maintenance please contact us.

Street tree pruning and maintenance FAQs

What constitutes "damaging or likely to damage property"?
This is defined as any damage to property caused by or likely to be caused by any part of the tree.
 
There are instances where tree parts become detached but do not cause immediate damage, or are not the direct cause of damage to property.
 
This includes gutters blocked by leaves, twigs and bark, which can be reasonably avoided by:
  • Fitting gutters with effective gutter leaf guards
  • Undertaking regular cleaning of gutters particularly before the start of winter.
Who is responsible for damage to persons or property caused by trees growing in the street or on parks?
Council may be liable for the damage if that damage has been caused to persons or property by a tree growing on land under the direct care, control and management of the City. Should you believe the tree is damaging property please contact us.
What sorts of alternatives other than pruning or removal are available to prevent trees damaging property?
Minor tree roots can often be pruned without affecting the health of the tree. With overhead powerlines, sometimes it is possible to arrange for the line to be shifted to another pole, or for a consumer pole to be installed just inside the property line and the power be run underground from this pole to the house.

More information and contact

For more information or requests for street tree planting, pruning or removal, please call us on 08 9411 3444 or email customer@cockburn.wa.gov.au.
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Address

9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

Po Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

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