Here is a common situation that many Aussie homeowners like you would find themselves in. Your lot is next to a street or council land with large council-owned trees lining the boundary line. What would happen if such trees had huge branches hanging over your fence or house? Are you allowed to trim or push them back?
It is illegal for private landowners to trim or interfere with council trees. Each city or town has tree preservation by-laws touching on the ownership and maintenance of council trees. Council trees belong to local councils and private landowners are encouraged to seek a permit before trimming or removing them to avoid contravening these laws.
Australian tree preservation laws are very strict on what private landowners can and cannot do to trees both inside and outside their land. These laws or regulations may differ from one city or town to another but they have many similarities as adopted from the federal level. It is these laws that prevent you from touching trees on council land unless you have express permission to do so.
There are a few reasons why you should not trim trees that are on council land or are considered council trees depending on the wording in your local tree preservation act. Here are some of them:
Protected Endangered Trees
Imagine trimming or cutting key limbs from a protected tree on council land and causing irreversible damage to the tree? This could get the attention of the local authorities and probably end up with you receiving hefty fines and other punishments.
Some trees on public council land (especially those on public streets or urban sanctuaries) are endangered and therefore protected by the law from interference. Only council employees with the help of a certified council arborist can trim or prune such trees when necessary. Examples include:
Angle-stemmed Myrtle and the
It is, therefore, important to seek permission from the relevant authorities in your location before you touch any council tree. Unsurprisingly these laws also extend to protected trees on private land. As you may already know, you need a permit to trim, transplant, or remove protected trees on your land.
Council Tree Maintenance Programs
There is no reason to take the responsibilities of trimming and caring for council trees away from the council. If a council tree is hanging over your land, you can notify them and they will send a team over to trim it at their own cost. However, it is also possible for private landowners to obtain a permit to trim such trees when necessary.
Local By-Laws Prohibiting Interfering with Council Trees
Chances are that there is a specific act or clause in your town or city by-laws that outlines what private landowners can or cannot do with trees on council land that hang over their property. Make sure you access and go through these laws before you get someone to trim the trees.
Debris Disposal or Wood from Trimmed Sections
What would you do with branches trimmed from council trees? Are you able to dispose of them or will you have to leave them unattended on council land? What if the trimmed branches are large enough to be used as timber or sold? Would you keep the money or how would you compensate the council?
Letting the council trim and dispose of the debris from the tree would be easier and possibly cheaper for you. You would also avoid inadvertently profiting or benefitting from public property illegally by keeping the trimmed branches for your use.
How Much Should I Pay to Have Council Trees Trimmed?
You do not need to pay to have overhanging council trees to be trimmed. If the tree branches hanging over your property pose any danger or inconvenience to you, the council will trim them at no cost to you. All you need to do is notify them through available channels and describe your problem. A council representative will be sent over to check the tree before they can approve your request.
That said, there are some cities or towns in Australia where private landowners can prune, cut, or trim council trees hanging over their land at their cost with permission. This usually happens if the local council cannot trim such trees or where landowners are willing to bear the costs. Find out if this is the case from your local city hall before you proceed.
The average cost to trim a tree in Australia is $431 assuming you get a professional to do the trimming. Costs depend on the size of the tree to be trimmed, positioning, number of branches, and the company you choose. Use our free tool to find top-rated tree trimming services near you today.
How Do I Convince A Council to Remove A Tree?
The tree you want to be removed must be wholly or partly sitting on council land for them to consider your request. Provide enough reasons why you think the tree should be removed such as the tree is dead, poses a danger to a nearby building, or blocks a pathway. Most councils will be willing to send a team over to assess the tree and remove it if necessary.
Do You Need Permission to Trim A Tree?
You must check the status of the tree under your council tree preservation regulations before you trim it. Most cities in Australia require residents to get a permit before trimming their trees.