Trees on public land

Pruning by our Tree Team

Council is currently experiencing a large increase in tree applications and requests, leading to processing delays. Our staff are working diligently minimise these delays. Please anticipate a turnaround time of 6 to 8 weeks for tree related matters. In urgent or emergency cases, the Council will prioritize tree works based on the imminent risk involved. We apologise for the inconvenience these delays may cause.

Council maintains a huge network of more than 17,000 street trees plus many more growing in parks and reserves.

The Tree Maintenance Team inspects all street trees every 18 months and will only prune trees when it is essential to maintain the health of the tree or to ensure the safety of people or property.

Council prunes in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 4373-2007 Pruning of amenity trees, and will generally prune for the following reasons:

  • to provide clearance for traffic and vision of essential traffic signage
  • to allow pedestrian access
  • to provide safety clearances around buildings and services
  • to train young trees to an appropriate form
  • to maintain a safe tree crown, such as removing dead or damaged branches.

Council does not prune privately owned trees. However, where private trees are encroaching into target clearance spaces, Council may issue a notice to the tree's legal owners requiring them to prune the tree.

Request a tree pruning

Target clearances

Council prunes public trees to achieve the following target clearances:

  • over footpaths, 2.4 metres
  • on major arterial roads, 4.5 metres over all lanes
  • on local roads - 2.4 metres over parking lanes and 4.5 metres over traffic lanes
  • around buildings and structures, 1 metre or less if branches are thick and unlikely to move during wind.

These clearances can only be achieved incrementally as the trees mature. Industry practice is to maintain branches on at least the upper three-quarters of the height of a street tree, and to not remove more than 10 per cent of a tree's foliage in one pruning event.

Meet our Tree Team in the video below:

Contact Council

Our Customer Service Centre operates from 9am to 5pm. Our Council Rangers are on duty and contactable seven days a week from 5.30am to midnight.

Address: Customer Service Centre, 200 Miller Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060

Telephone: (02) 9936 8100


Trees growing less than three metres from a building are NOT cut down

Each tree close to a building will be assessed individually. The assessment officer will decide based on the tree species, the type of building and technical evidence to prove a tree is causing structural damage to the property or likely to in the future.

Pruning or removing trees once a permit has been issued

All trees protected by the Tree & Vegetation Management Policy must be pruned or removed by a qualified arborist. A list of qualified arborists can be obtained from Arboriculture Australia.

Find an arborist

Tree management plans and policies

We have key plans, policies and strategies that direct our management of trees on public and private land.

View our tree policies