Tree Trouble

No not the sort of trouble you hear most people complaining about, roots in the pipes or dropping leaves in the gutters; it’s an expensive tree removal sort of trouble that has reared its head this week.

The offending tree, a poinciana

The offending tree, a poinciana

Now, I am a self confessed tree hugger. I love trees surrounding my house, they create a temperature moderating effect through shade and wind breaks, plus green is such a lovely cooling colour. To my eyes, a house looks undressed without some sort of greenery to break up the stark, squared off lines of the building. Because of this I have worked with our architect to ensure that a number of existing native trees have been retained on the site and had the house designed to showcase some of these. But none of these are the culprit. The tree in question isn’t even on our land; it’s on the nature strip on the front of the newly created block of land. Unfortunately it is situated right in the middle of where the new driveway will run. When you have a 10m frontage to a block of land a large poinciana tree is bound to create a headache sooner or later.
We originally started the tree removal request back before Christmas and it has taken until now to get a resolution. Now because the tree is ‘owned’ by the Council, and despite the facts that:

  • it would have been planted by a previous owner of the property approximately 10 – 20 years ago, against Council policy,
  • the rest of the street trees are Xanthostemons, a native tree,
  • this tree will always require a high degree of maintenance and is a trip hazard with its sprawling roots and 
  • it will grow to a massive size eventually and may pose a risk from falling limbs,
This canopy of a mature poinciana covered three backyards, blocking sunlight and encouraging mosquitoes. It also dropped rotten tree limbs on days of high wind.

This canopy of a mature poinciana covered three backyards, blocking sunlight and encouraging mosquitoes. It also dropped rotten tree limbs on days of high wind.

it was deemed to be a valuable street tree and initially the Council turned down our request to remove it. I managed to get one of the Council arborists to revisit my case and when he visited this week I took him through the plans for the new house, putting my case forward. Thankfully he was a reasonable chap, although he did suggest I could remove one of the existing native trees on the block and reposition the driveway, I politely pointed out that not only was my tree a native, but moving the driveway would necessitate re-designing and re-drafting the whole front of the house. So thankfully he agreed to approve the removal of the tree.


Now for the really painful part. If we were allowed to remove the tree ourselves it would probably take handy hubby and I a couple of hours to cut down, load onto the trailer and take to the tip. Alternatively I could get a crew in and for a couple of hundred dollars they would cut it down and turn it into a nice pile of wood chips for me. Unfortunately that is not an option. It’s the Council’s tree and they are the only ones who can remove it, however we do have to pay for this privilege. Additionally because I am removing a tree I have to replace the equivalent in canopy area, this equals two normal trees; of course it would have to be a poincianna, one of the widest spreading trees out there! Adding salt to the wound, I will be charged $260/replacement tree. Now I purchased some xanthostemons and planted them out at our other house, they cost me $8/pot for a fair sized plant. I am told the $260 covers a years worth of care and maintenance on the tree, I’ll be interested to see how often the trees are visited over the next year.

Stenocarpus sinuatus, the Australian Firewheel tree.

Stenocarpus sinuatus, the Australian Firewheel tree.


So I have learned a good lesson. Don’t buy houses a large poinciana on the nature strip or at least allow around $1000/tree to remove.


I’m going out to hug my Stenocarpus sinuatus now, it always makes me feel better.

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9 thoughts on “Tree Trouble

  • April 2, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Wow. I feel for you, being a fellow tree-hugger. It would be hard decision for me to remove a tree as well. What would have happened if you had just cut the tree down without seeking council approval? Do you think they would ever have noticed?

    • April 2, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      I think the Councils do aerial comparisons now days and they probably would have noticed the demise of such a large canopy area. I always try to do things the right way but it does end up costing more. Thankfully the second poinciana tree in front of the renovated house died from a white ant attack. These African trees were popular when the suburb was first settled and through the 50’s as they provided lovely shade and on larger acreage blocks they are great, just not suitable for inner suburban lots.

  • May 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Just had a fight with BCC about our tree (Council asset) twice the size. They will not remove it. I was able to obtain a repair cost to my driveway that was cracked severely. Advice Place your driveway and concrete away from these beasts. Don’t park underneath them as they stain your car also.

    Spoke to a tree lopper when they removed another tree from my backyard and he advised a min $30k fine if a company removes the tree without permission and probable $10k for a land owner.

    Good Luck!

    • May 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Thankfully they saw sense in our case. We couldn’t develop the lot with the tree in place, it was a trip hazard and also had some rot, although this wasn’t obvious before the tree was removed. A second smaller poinciana tree on the nature strip had been infested with white ants and broke in the storms so we had a win there. The replacement cost was based on the tree canopy lost so a spreading introduced tree will cost more than an upright native species. I see people planting these trees (illegally) on the nature strip without any thought to what the tree size will be down the track and the problems it creates for the future owners. I wonder who would be liable if someone tripped on your cracked driveway?

  • October 7, 2015 at 5:06 am

    As if tree removal couldn’t be more annoying… having to get approval to remove it must be aggravating. My neighbors are in the process of cutting a tree down right now and got stopped half way through because the city didn’t approve it. Despite the fact that this tree has dropped massive branches, totaled cars in storms, and is a severe neighborhood annoyance with the smelly seeds it drops and how it clogs the gutters.

    • November 25, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Yes, although I love them, trees can be such as problem. It is even more annoying when the tree is an introduced variety and dangerous.

  • April 23, 2016 at 5:27 am

    I really love the trees that are surrounding my home, and I couldn’t imagine cutting any of them down. However I’m sorry that the counsel didn’t let you remove this tree. It makes sense as it wasn’t on your property, but it’s still upsetting to know how much it cost you!

    • April 24, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Thanks Petunia, yes I love the trees that surround our new home and now that the offending poinciana is gone the native tree that had been overshadowed is flourishing. We also trimmed other trees that were knocked about in the build process and they are recovering nicely.

  • August 17, 2016 at 10:07 am

    I am glad that you were able to get the tree removed. Redesigning your whole garage would have been quite the challenge. I think the lesson you learned is one that all home buyers should learn.

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