Trees live and grow. As part of their natural life, they shed twigs, leaves, fruit, and flowers. It is normal.


So how do you spot the warning signs that a tree is under stress?

One of the best ways is to establish a baseline. Get to know the tree! Some things to look out for are:

  • Increased splits or cracks on the trunk.
  • An increased lean on the tree.
  • The cracking of the ground or a root plate lift or tilt on the tension side of a tree.
  • Shedding of branches more than 50mm in diameter (the width of a credit card) even on calm days.
  • An abundance of mushrooms at the base.
  • No green canopy in summertime.

Trees are sensitive to change

For example, in a group of trees the loss of one may impact on the wind load and structure of others. Disturbances such as a new driveway, fence, landscaping or trenching for utility connections can also impact on the long-term health of a tree. See tips on tree care.

Not all trees will need to be removed. Strategies such as height reduction or removal of deadwood can extend the life of a tree and make it safe. Dead trees may also be left to fall naturally in areas where the risk of injury and to property is low.

If you have concerns about a public tree let us know.


My neighbour’s tree worries me, what can I do?

As a first step try talking to your neighbour or use our letter template. In most cases an arborist’s report on the condition and structural integrity of the tree will determine actions (if any). The report should also include a risk assessment and timeframe for remedial works.

Image: Mushrooms at base of a tree can be a sign of stress.

Following that, a tree permit may be required. For boundary trees, assessment / remedial costs are generally shared. If talking is not an option, then you will need to seek legal advice. Action can be taken under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act

In deliberations, the law looks at whether the tree has caused, or is likely to cause, actual damage or loss. Trees that shed leaves, reduce solar access, or limit views are not reasons to remove tree/s or vegetation.