Pruning & removing public trees

Find out about the Council's policy and practices on pruning and removing trees on public land. Trees on private property are the owner's responsibility.

Tree pruning.

Wellington City Council maintains safe and attractive trees in the city's open spaces.

The Council's arborists:

  • promote the sustainable management of a healthy and varied tree population
  • provide professional tree care to the community's trees
  • plant trees on road reserve.

Pruning and removing trees


Council arborists prune trees on road reserve and footpaths.

The trees are pruned as part of the Council's ongoing maintenance programme and at residents' request. They are only pruned when necessary, for example, if they:

  • overhang private property
  • obstruct footpaths or roads
  • obscure street lighting
  • obstruct vehicle access to public areas
  • obscure traffic signage and visibility at intersections
  • are growing within clearance requirements around power cables.

Blocking views and casting shade are not adequate grounds for pruning.

Pruning practices

The Council's arborists prune the trees in a way that:

  • maintains their health and longevity
  • keeps their natural shape.

The Council's arborists are approved contactors within the industry and are authorised through the New Zealand Arboriculture Association (NZAA).


Topping is not a practice carried out on the Council's trees. Trees that are topped are more likely to decay. There are also problems with the regrowth after topping:

  • the new growth is often weak and can break off as the new stems grow - (creating a safety issue)
  • often a thick canopy is quickly formed which can then cause too much shading.

Why Topping Hurts Trees (PDF) – Trees are Good

Removing trees

In general, a tree may be removed when it's dead, dying or is a danger to people or property. A tree is removed:

  • if it is diseased
  • if it is causing structural damage to streets or utility services
  • if is causing a traffic safety problem by reducing visibility or obstructing the road or footpath
  • to preserve other trees
  • to maintain other Council land
  • if it is a weed or pest plant that Council is actively controlling as part of a maintenance programme
  • to manage the risk of ageing trees.

Trees are not removed:

  • to preserve or create views
  • to reduce shade or leaf litter
  • because of roosting birds


If you ask for a tree to be pruned or removed, you may have to pay some or all of the cost of the work. This depends on:

  • how much you or the Council would directly benefit from the work
  • how urgent the need for the work is
  • how long you have owned the property.

If the Council allows you to remove vegetation, you may have to either plant replacements or make a payment. More details are available in these guidelines: Vegetation Removal - Replacement Planting and Payment Guidelines (61KB PDF) | Text version (12KB RTF)

Trees and power lines

The Council is responsible for maintaining and pruning trees around power lines on Council property.

Where trees grow from private property, it is the property owner's responsibility to maintain clearance from power lines. For further information, visit:

Guide to working around trees

Trees are sensitive and construction work near them can significantly damage or even destroy them.

To find out how to avoid damaging trees with minimal disruption to construction works, see: Guide to Working Around Trees (588KB PDF)

Trees on private property

The Council has no jurisdiction over and does not become involved in issues about trees on private property (unless the trees obstruct parts of public footpaths or roadways).

We suggest you contact a professional and qualified arborist for consultation and advice. For more information, visit:

Refer to the Council's Lateral Policy for information about tree and root blockages of private lateral sewerage and wastewater pipes.