Pruning and removing trees

Pruning and removing trees

Permission is required

Before you prune or remove a tree from your residential or business property you must apply for permission from the City of Sydney. Our tree management polices are based on protecting individual trees and the City’s urban forest.

Laws about pruning and removing trees on private land and City properties come under our tree management controls. Any tree, whether it's native or an exotic species, is covered under the controls, if it is listed in the Register of Significant Trees, or has:

  • a height of 5m or more
  • a canopy spread of over 5m
  • a trunk diameter of more than 300mm, at ground level.

Depending on the tree species, the condition of the tree or the type of pruning required, some exemptions apply, which are outlined further under exemptions in the tree management controls. There are serious penalties for breaching the controls – the maximum fine in the Land and Environment Court is $1.1 million.

Trees in your neighbour's yard

You also need to apply to the City before you prune the overhanging branches of a neighbour’s tree, if it meets the size requirements above. Permission from your neighbour is not required, although we recommend you let them know as a courtesy that you want to prune the tree.

Pruning a neighbour’s tree back to the property line is not permitted as it damages the tree. All pruning must conform to the Australian Standard for the Pruning of Amenity Trees (AS4373). Read more on trees and neighbours

Dead or immediately dangerous

If your tree is dead or immediately dangerous you do not need the City’s permission. Importantly however, you will have to do the following:

  • record the tree’s condition and the cause of any risk that the tree may pose
  • provide a statement that verifies that the works undertaken will be or were the minimum necessary to manage the risk
  • **provide a report to the City from a qualified Arborist (minimum AQF Level 3 Arboriculture) prior to works taking place or immediately following the works.

** The City must be satisfied that a person with the appropriate knowledge and expertise has made the decision that the tree should be removed without the City’s consent.

The qualified arborist will be the party responsible in deciding the tree is an imminent risk to public safety. Otherwise, works are considered to have occurred without the City’s consent and fines or legal action may be pursued by Council.


Heritage Council of NSWSearch for NSW heritage

Last updated: Tuesday, 24 June 2014