Can I Cut a Tree in My Property without Notifying Council?

Hi Guys,

In my front yard, there is a tree with spiky seeds (round), mostly the name of the tree is - Liquidambar. (Did some google to find out the name). The tree is around 2.5M tall with 4-5 branches. Of late, the spiky seeds are falling down and my kids are getting hurt with these seeds on the ground while playing.

Now, I want to get rid of this tree from my property by myself with a small tool from Bunnings.

My question is, do I need to send a request to Council for their approval for removing this tree or can I cut this as this looks like not a protected tree species in Australia?

Also, 1 ) Just worried, if the council doesn't approve to cut the tree?
2) And at the same time, if they find out that I had cut the tree without their approval, how much would be penalty? How do they prove that I had cut the tree and not someone else :)


Final Updates:

Thank you everyone for the valuable details. Much appreciated.

After reading your comments, I am able to get the details from my local council.

Also my local council needs application fees of $125 to review any application for cutting trees.

Thanks and have a great weekend

Closing this post now.

Cheers

Poll Options

  • 138
    Cut the tree without engaging Council.
  • 22
    Engage council, let them decide

Comments

  • +3

    Which council you live in?

    • Yep, the council should have information on which trees are exempted, Liquidambar is exempt from some councils if you google it up.

      OP, check your own, if exempted, you could still call them up to double check if you are concerned with getting a fine.

  • +14

    Different councils different rules. You can’t get/give advice without these details

  • +4

    Your local council website will answer most of your questions e.g. https://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/Services/Tree-management/Tr...

    What are your neighbours like? Because in the front yard, the most likely route to the council coming after you is a neighbour taking a photo and telling them

    • Generally why would any neighbours do that? Like I mean there no monetary or social gain for them

  • +14

    Leave the tree alone, just pick up the seed pods, only once a year. They are beautiful trees. If there is a branch in the way of something, sure just trim it, but please don't total it for a few pods.

    • +2

      Leave the tree alone, just pick up the seed pods, only once a year. They are beautiful trees.

      If I remember correctly the NSW city of Orange has their main park filled with gigantic Liquidambar. Yes it is a beautiful tree that will provide magnificent shade when mature.

      Appalling those, with children, wanting to kill and destroy trees.

      Obviously the founder elderly in Orange where a lot smarter.

      We are doom.

      • +1

        Hello doom, I'm dad.

        • You're not dad, you are doom. ;-|

    • Our neighbour has this tree in her backyard. It’s absolutely massive and fills up 3 green bins with its leaves and spiky fruits every 3 weeks during autumn.

      Its root system extends beyond her house into the neighbouring areas - causing cracks into our pipes and buildings.

      It’s a nice tree for a park but an absolute nightmare for a backyard in the inner city.

      • -3

        What is the option? A bare garden?

        Perhaps a high rise unit will solve those issues.

        • +4

          What is the option? A bare garden?

          Oh, I dunno. Perhaps choosing appropriate foliage, shrubbery and trees that don't have an expansive or aggressive root system to cause structural damage to housing?

          • -3

            @cryptonator:

            Oh, I dunno

            Well, ALL trees have roots.

            All trees when planted on soil/ground will have roots that will try to expand, seeking more water and more nutrients.

            So, other than ornamental shrubs NO real tree will fit the bill.

            Plants in pots to the rescue!.
            But I forgot, trees will need massive pots so it will be expensive and that will no be acceptable.
            Tree choppers to the rescue!

  • +1

    Most of the councils do not care about small trees that are below the height of the house gutters, but saying that look up the council web site and search for the rules they have for cutting down trees. The council I live in only has rules for > 5M tall or a trunk > 20Cm in diameter from memory.

  • +1

    My question is do I need to send a request to Council for their approval for removing this tree ?

    Depends on the council rules. Head to their website and have a look at what they say you can removed WITHOUT a permit. Go from there.

  • +1

    In NSW normal council rule is approval require for tree taller than 5 meters.

    If you can't take it down, no one stop you to trim the tree. Trim to a point it become too short and small, it will no longer an issue

  • +17

    Tell your kids to harden up. Liquid amber ain’t got nothing on three-corner jacks and bindiis.

  • +1

    how do they prove that I had cut the tree and not someone else :-)

    If it's against council bylaws to cut down the tree, the council will just issue you with a fine and tell you to argue with the judge in court.

  • +1

    You need to look up the tree preservation rules on your local government web site.

    If you are in City of Sydney and the Liquidambar is <10m tall then it is approval exempt unless it's on their register.

    https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/guides/exemptions-for-pr...

  • +2

    My research suggests it's better to cut it down yourself than ask the council.
    I say this based on a related topic as it seems the fine for removing a nature strip tree yourself is less than paying council to remove the tree.

    • Any idea what the fine would be?

      • Not yet…
        But I'd expect in the hundreds, whereas paying a council contractor to do it would be thousands.

  • +2

    Need MS paint diagram or photos. How unsafe this tree is?

  • +1

    Is the tree actually yours and in your yard - or is it a council tree on the verge?

  • +1

    Any bargains?

  • +2

    Those are beautiful trees. We had 2 at our old place and they looked stunning. Just rake the spikey ball thingies or get the kids to do it before playtime. Won't take more than a few minutes. Cheers!

  • 2.5m is a very tall tree, that takes years to grow … please don't cut it down

    • +10

      Have i got some trees to show you, if you think 2.5m is tall!

      • 2.5 meters is taller than zero.

        Or those 15cm trees that council replants …

        • +1

          I wan’t being mean, or dismissive, and i love trees.
          Just I guess reflecting how we have screwed up the landscape so a 2.5m tree is a tree these days, not a little sapling.

          One of my quietly happy things is I found a 10cm gum seedling in my vege patch and I transplanted it to the boundary of my house 6 years ago with no love or care, and it is a 10m tree now.
          I didn’t try to grow a beautiful tree, but I got one anyway.

          I’m still haphazardly trying to grow an oak, cause there are some that drop acorns nearby, but I think they need the gentler forest of Europe. Aussie trees are hard core. Deciduous are flimsy (maybe except the liquid amber that powers through)

          • @mskeggs:

            Just I guess reflecting how we have screwed up the landscape so a 2.5m tree is a tree these days, not a little sapling.

            Yes, I agree with you.

            Trees take a lot of time to grow. Most "tree choppers" ignore that.

            Well done with your "green finger" for trees.

            I do love my many "Koelreuteria elegans subsp. formosana" or Golden rain tree … classified as a pest!
            But it grows quickly gratifying me with a majestic shade. And millions of seeds!!!!! ;-]

  • +2

    It’s not a native tree there is a good chance council won’t care, but you need to check their website and possibly ring them to determine. Also if it really is only 2.5m tall (ie you can nearly reach the top) it probably doesn’t meet the guidelines for the height at which they want a permit.

    Then again, it’s a good learning opportunity for hw kids. Heck the grass before you play. It’s not hard to pick up a few seed pods and chuck em at you brother - I mean place them carefully in the bin.

  • Thank you everyone for the valuable details. Much appreciated.

    After reading your comments, I am able to get the details from my local council.

    Thanks and have a great weekend

  • Also my local council needs application fees of $125 to review any application for cutting trees.

    • +1

      But the application fee will only apply if you are applying for a tree removal. If you ring them and ask about what criteria is for removing a tree without a permit they’ll tell you.

      Normally you only need a permit for large trees or native trees that are more than a specified distance from the house.

  • +2

    Cut it now. These trees can grow very large.

  • +2

    Cut it down. The damage these trees do to your foundations and footpaths is horrendous.

    • -1

      I agree. These trees get very large and are not suitable for inner city living.

  • +1

    "Small tool from Bunnings"

    There tickets to this event?

  • -1

    Apologies for late comment. Just notice this thread. I was told that under 30cm diameter you don't need council permit? Thanks

  • +1

    Cut it down, grow something fruit tree which is more fun to harvest. Grow some self pollinating trees like mulberry, oranges or mandarins.

  • +4

    Liquidambars are beautiful trees.

    But due to their root system, I wouldn't plant them anywhere near the house, structures or paving.

  • +4

    teach the kids to play around the seeds, cottonwooling our kids doesn't help them to develop on their own.
    Plus Trees are extremely valuable as a source of shade. New housing estates reach 45-50 degrees due to lack of tree cover.
    Else replace the tree with another sapling, although it'll be 10+ years before it's significant enough to cast shade.

  • I had no idea getting permission was even a thing. I have a mate who was in the tree-felling business, and had him spend a full day removing dozens of frees.
    No neighbours complained - a couple wanted my mates number though.

    Another option: we had a builder who once knocked down a tree on our footpath. Presumably accidentally, and must have thrown it in his truck rather than confess his sin.(I guess it wasn't our tree so wasn't me he should confess to.) So if you need a tree removed, it could always happen accidentally if the right conditions were to occur.

    I've heard stories that Brisbane used to have a demolition company that sometimes knocked down hertitage-listed buildings when they were "accidentally" given the wrong address. There are always alternate ways of achieving what you want.

    This is not advice.

    [edit: fixed some attrocious English]

  • +4

    I still remember my primary school had these trees in the courtyard right next to where we played handball. They are still there some 30 years later and no one ever got hurt from the seeds.

  • +2

    Why isn't anyone using the appropriate term….. bomby knockers!?

  • +1

    Where are you? I’ll come dig it out and take it for free.

    • -1

      Also plenty of poisons will kill a tree fast and not poison soil. Just need to keep kids away for a few days.

  • +1

    Jesus $125 for an application review….these Council dudes raking it ae

  • Why don't you review the applicable provisions of the planning scheme and Fencing Act?

  • Since you're in Sydney, check whether the tree is exempt under the Development Control Plan (DCP) of your council

    e.g. for City of Ryde: https://www.ryde.nsw.gov.au/files/assets/public/development/...

    If you are in Ryde, you would be able to cut down the tree assuming it is less than 5m tall and has a stem circumference of less than 450mm at a height of 1.4m above ground level. Also it would have to be a non-protected species. Each council has a list of exempt trees (trees you can cut down without council approval) and the definition of a 'tree'

    According to an arborist I previously spoke to, the root system of liquidambars grows very far and may damage the foundations of your house once they grow big, and they should not be planted in residential areas.

  • +1

    OP - i worked as a town planner for many years in Victoria - and it’s a town planning permit you may need depending on your municipality and state.

    If the tree is on your property (and not on the nature strip) then you can probably cut it down without notifying the council. However depending on a bunch of things you might need a permit. In Victoria you’d only need a permit if (a) there is a tree protection overlay which covers your area; (b) there was a particular requirement on your title that the tree be protected (called a section 173); (c) the council has any special rules about tree removal (which are usually tied to trunk circumference).

    All of this information you should be able to find out by calling the council without having to pay anything.

  • -3

    Of course. It is your property