It is illegal to remove or prune any trees, shrubs or other plants on your nature strip or in a park, without Council approval.
There are almost 80,000 trees which line our streets throughout the City of Whittlesea.
Pruning nature strip and park trees
To reduce risk to the public, we arrange for tree specialists to assess the sturdiness and health of every street tree at least once every 2 years.
Our tree professionals judge each tree against industry best practices and, if necessary, prune the tree to ensure it grows properly and keeps clear of power lines.
Of the more than 1000 requests we receive annually about perceived dangerous trees, only around 5 per cent result in tree removals. In these cases, the trees are usually dead or in the later stages of growing old.
Often, the other 95 per cent of requests do not require any works.
Why we minimise tree pruning
Unless a tree is within 2m of a built structure, pruning is unlikely to provide enough relief from the perceived nuisance of falling leaves, flowers or fruit.
It is uncommon for branches that overhang a property to cause personal damage, except under storm conditions and we will not prune trees to eliminate a perceived danger.
We try to minimise tree pruning because:
- it wounds the tree and exposes it to attack by insects, pests and diseases
- over-pruning can reduce the life span of a tree
- our 2-year cyclic pruning program ensures we provide the majority of residents with timely customer service
Removing a nature strip or park tree
Since it is difficult to establish new trees and many houses do not have a nature strip tree, we aim to keep as many existing trees as possible.
We only remove a nature strip or park tree as a last resort, if it has been assessed by our trained tree professionals as posing a danger to the public and having faults that can’t be fixed.
We do not remove trees if they are reported as:
- causing hayfever - most hayfever is caused by very small pollen originating from tall grass that has flowered and is carried through the air by the wind
- dropping too many leaves or fruit
- being too large
After we identify a tree for removal, we remove it as soon as possible based on the level of risk.
If you are concerned about a potentially dangerous nature strip tree, contact us.
Do not plant your own nature strip tree
It is illegal for you to plant your own trees, shrubs or any other plant (apart from grass) on your nature strip, under our General Local Laws.
If you have planted an inappropriate or unsuitable tree, we may need to remove or replace it at a high cost to all ratepayers.
In addition, any potential insurance claims related to such trees can be refused if we were not involved in the species selection or planting process.
Request a tree planting
If your nature strip does not have a tree, you can ask us to plant one for you. Our officers will assess your nature strip and arrange for an appropriate tree to be planted from late autumn to early spring, depending on the seasonal weather patterns.
The tree species chosen will be selected to provide consistency with the existing nature strip trees in the street, if there is a dominant theme. If there is no dominant theme, we might consider your street for a complete upgrade under our Street Tree Renewal Program.
Nature strip trees and drainage pipes
Under normal circumstances, we will not remove your nature strip tree, even if the tree roots are blocking a stormwater drainage pipe.
This is because nature strip tree roots can only enter into damaged or poorly sealed stormwater pipes, which the property owner is responsible for maintaining, under our General Local Laws. See Stormwater drainage.
To limit blockages from occurring, we recommend that you have a licensed plumber regularly clean out and test your stormwater connections. This proactive maintenance will ensure that they are not leaking and that tree roots do not block pipes in the future.
Replacing nature strip trees in older suburbs
Our Street Tree Renewal Program is where we replace nature strip trees in the City of Whittlesea’s older established suburbs, to create a consistent tree theme for an entire street.
We follow these steps to renew a street’s nature strip trees:
- identify appropriate streets to renew based on our staff’s observation or resident nominations
- prioritise streets based on whether they lack nature strip trees or have ageing trees
- ask residents if they support renewal of their street, and if so, ask them to choose their preferred tree type
- remove existing trees that are inconsistent with the preferred tree type (regardless of their condition)
- replant and maintain the preferred new trees
You can nominate your street for nature strip tree renewal by calling us on 9217 2170.
Watering your nature strip tree
Once established, nature strip trees usually receive enough water from rainfall and the soil to keep them in good health.
You do not need to water newly planted street trees as this is our responsibility.
We currently use recycled water to irrigate these trees, saving up to 6 megalitres of drinking water per year.