Trees growing on private property should be checked often for signs of disease or weak limbs and pruned or treated when necessary to reduce the risk of falling limbs. When trees are growing on commercial or public property, regular inspection and maintenance is even more important. This is the responsibility of the property owner but, under most circumstances, permission to trim or remove a tree must be attained from your local council’s Tree Presevation order, such as the City of Sydney or City of Canterbury.  The penalty for pruning or cutting down a tree without permission can be severe. A fine up to $1.1 million is possible.

Most trees that have reached a height or canopy width of 5 meters or more, a trunk diameter over 300 millimeters or are included on the Register of Significant Trees require a permit for pruning or removal. There are some exemptions, though. Privets (Ligustrum spp.) and willows (Salix babylonica), for example, may be trimmed or cut down without prior permission as long as they are not on the City’s Register of Significant Trees.

Watch trees for signs of disease like bracket fungi growing on the trunk or cankers on the branches and trunk. When disease is suspected, contact an Arborist who is qualified to evaluate and treat diseased trees. Dead or dying limbs that do not appear diseased should be pruned off the tree to minimize the risk of falling branches. This sort of pruning can be done by an arborist who specializes in tree climbing and pruning.

Cooler fall weather should prompt homeowners and owners of commercial or public property to give their trees a close look. Have any suspicious limbs that look as though the wood has been weakened inspected and removed, if necessary. Weak limbs become a serious hazard when winter winds and storms kick up, posing a danger to nearby vehicles, buildings and passersby. Don’t wait until late in the season to contact an Arborist or apply for permission. Applications can take up to one month to be approved by the City of Sydney. Also, keep in mind that this tends to be a busy season for Arborists. They may not be available to complete the work right away.