Caring for Trees

20 September 2010

Some trees on public land are being ruined forever by over-zealous pruning, hacking and poisoning.

The Council's Aboriculture Team Manager checks the damage on a badly-pruned tree

The Council's Aboriculture Team Manager checks the damage on a badly-pruned tree

The Council's Aboricultural Manager Julian Emeny says there has been a spate of "cruelty to trees" over the last 12 months by Wellingtonians trying to secure better sun and views.

"We see trees that have been hacked at or poisoned every year - it's not only illegal, it doesn't make for a pretty sight," he says.

He acknowledges trees can cause problems for residents such as shading, loss of views and leaf litter, but says taking to them with a chainsaw if you don't know what you're doing will only make things worse.

"There are good and bad ways to prune trees and it's best to leave it to the experts," he says.  "If you prune a tree badly it affects its health and longevity. There are also health and safety implications to consider. Just attacking trees has a knock-on effect in many ways."

The Council's arborists plant and prune trees on road reserve (the area of land between the front boundary of a property and the road) and footpaths. Other trees on road reserve are pruned at residents' requests, and as part of the Council's ongoing maintenance programme.

The Council will carry out pruning when trees are overhanging private property, obstructing footpaths, roads or vehicle access to public areas, obscuring street lighting, traffic signage or visibility at intersections, and growing within clearance requirements around power cables.

Julian says house-buyers should take into account the fact that any trees on nearby public land will almost certainly get larger, and consider how that might affect them.

At the same time, he urges people with a problem to contact the Council rather than taking matters into their own hands.

"Damaging trees on public land is illegal and contravenes the Council's tree policy," he says. "The Council will remove any trees that are a hazard to people or property and will consider other requests."