Trees in the City of Port Phillip are cared for by a team of passionate, highly qualified arborists. This team handles the assessment and maintenance of a thriving urban forest. Our tree management program is guided by the Greening Port Phillip Strategy.
Requests for tree maintenance are one of the most common requests we receive in Port Phillip. In general, we prefer to do as little pruning as possible, while ensuring the safety and amenity of residents. This is because pruning a tree causes irreversible damage to the tree.
Council is responsible for maintaining over 46,000 trees throughout the municipality. Our primary maintenance focus is gaining proper clearance spaces for Electrical Line Clearance and Road Management obligations. Council’s arborists assess each tree on a cyclical basis. If any works are needed to meet our service obligations, they will be scheduled into our ongoing works program.
Removal of trees is an action of last resort and will only be considered in limited circumstances.
Where a tree is found to be dead, or in a state of advanced decline (dying), Council will look to have the tree removed. Where a tree is found to pose an unacceptable risk of harm to people or property, the part of the tree which poses a risk will be removed. Occasionally, keeping the remaining part of the tree becomes untenable and the remainder will also be removed.
Clearance for electrical assets as required by Electrical Line Clearance regulations
Clearance from roads and footpaths, as required by Road Management and Disability Discrimination Act
Removal of deadwood over 25mm in diameter, and any branch stubs or diseased, dying, defective, crossing, broken or hanging branches
Reduction from dwellings and other buildings. This does not include removal of all tree parts over a building or back to a property line. Works of this type are considered on a case-by-case basis
All works will conform to Australian Standard 4373 – Pruning of Amenity Trees.
- Reduction of foliage to reduce leaves and fruit falling into private property
- Reduction of foliage to increase solar penetration onto private property, including for improving access to solar panels or similar
- Remove or decrease roosting perches to decrease habitat for fauna (birds, possums etc.), or to reduce the appearance of droppings or other animal mess
- Work to decrease fauna access between trees or infrastructure
- Works to manage insect populations or debris associated with insect populations.
In living and working in an urban tree environment, routine maintenance practices are expected. You may raise reactive cleaning and pruning requests via MyPortPhillip, over the phone on 03 9209 6777 or via Snap Send Solve.
Private Storm Water Drains (Legal Point of Discharge) is the responsibility of the property owner to repair, maintain or replace. Council do not repair, unblock or clear private storm water drains.
Tree roots are opportunistic and move through the soil profile where conditions are conducive to growth. Roots have no means of sensing water within pipes and actively seeking it. If there is a leak in the pipe, roots may exploit and exacerbate the opening – sometimes causing pipe blockages. Council highly recommends that property owners ensure their drains are maintained properly to avoid damage.
Relining or replacing drains is an effective method of avoiding the ongoing costs of having drains cleared regularly.
Following completion of drainage works, a property owner may make a claim for compensation from Council if they believe Council is at fault.
The City of Port Phillip cannot provide pruning or maintenance services for trees on private property. These trees are the responsibility of the landowner.
In line with the Local Law, landowners are responsible for ensuring that pedestrian access to paths and traffic sightlines are not blocked by overhanging trees and shrubs. For advice on tree maintenance, or to undertake work on the trees located on your property, please contact a qualified arborist.
When you notice low-hanging branches from a tree on private property impeding a footpath, please contact Council via MyPortPhillip, over the phone to ASSIST (03 9209 6777) or log your request using Snap Send Solve. Our Local Laws team will contact the property owner to request they undertake the pruning within a specified deadline.
If your property is home to a Significant Tree, or has a Heritage Overlay, you will need to apply for a special permit to undertake pruning or removal work. Please visit the Significant Tree Permit page for more information.
Where a tree on private property is considered ‘significant’ under the Local Law No.1 Community Amenity 2023, Council will require you to apply for permit to undertake pruning or removal.
In Port Phillip, a Significant Tree is any mature tree on private land with a trunk circumference greater than 150cm, when measured at 100cm from the ground.
If you have further questions about this, please contact us. You can also visit the Significant Tree Permit page for more information and details about permit applications.
Have you noticed a dead or dying tree? Is the tree outside your property at risk of dropping a branch?
Almost all tree-related requests require an initial inspection before we undertake works. This is to ensure that any reactive works undertaken are appropriate, achievable and aligned with the Greening Port Phillip Strategy.
For all your tree-related needs, please contact our trees team, who will come out to inspect the tree in question and provide you with a timeframe for any works required.
The team can be contacted via the following channels:
Over the phone: 03 9209 6777
As part of Port Phillip’s implementation of the Greening Port Phillip Strategy, Council plants a large number of trees per year.
Our tree planting program takes place between April to September each year. This is because young trees are more likely to successfully become established during the cooler, wetter months. All trees planted during this period are placed on a monitoring schedule to ensure they receive the support they need to reach maturity.
You may request planting at any time of the year, however, requests received after 30 June may not be completed until the following year’s planting season, to ensure enough time to source quality tree stock.
When you request tree planting, we will assess the site you have indicated for suitability and place your request in our centralised list. As we approach planting season, we will order the trees and conduct planting as part of the programmed works.
We proactively plant trees on nature strips, parks, reserves and other Council-owned land to:
Increase canopy to achieve a greener, cooler and more liveable city
Increase the number of trees within our streets
Preserve and enhance the local character of the distinct areas which make up our city
Provide biological diversity
There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all urban tree. The urban environment is a varied collection of microclimates and soil conditions, both of which can vary dramatically within the space of a few metres.
Because of this, site analysis is conducted for each major planting site, to allow for the selection of the most appropriate tree species.
When selecting trees, we consider the following:
Suitability of the tree for the site
Surrounding planting themes
Adaptability to climate change
Street tree planting in Port Phillip involves three different programs within a street or street section:
In-fill planting – planting out with the same or a similar species
Partial renewal – removal of inappropriate trees or trees in ill health, with in-fill planting to reinforce a preferred tree species. This program may also include the construction of new or improved planting sites, such as in-road planters or expanded sites in areas with hard surfaces.
Renewal – removal of most, if not all, inappropriate or declining street trees with replacements of a more appropriate species. This program may also incorporate the creation of new or improved planting sites.
Climate change is expected to bring warmer, wetter winters, warmer drier summers and rates of fire and insect disturbance are expected to increase. In addition, these effects will interact with existing urban stresses such as air pollution, soil compaction and heat island effects.
As our climate progressively changes, our young and stressed trees will take longer to grow and will require more care to stabilise to local conditions and reach maturity.
You can make a difference, by adopting and watering a tree in your street or local area. Water, mulch and soil improvements will all help improve the health of your tree.
Watering street trees
Trees depend heavily on water, and the use of grey water from baths, showers and washing machines (using biodegradable detergent) can help trees thrive.
It can be difficult to find an appropriate place for watering street trees. Large established trees have a root system that tends to be proportional with the tree’s canopy. The edge of the canopy is known as the drip line. Tree-lovers are encouraged to water these trees on the drip line.
Recently planted trees have been fitted with a watering well. These watering wells allow the water within to penetrate the tree’s root, as this is the most appropriate location for new trees to be watered.
We apply mulch to the base of trees to help retain soil moisture levels and improve the soil profile. If you would like to mulch a tree on your property, free mulch is available at the South Melbourne Resource Recovery Centre.
For more tree care tips, please visit:
In the City of Port Phillip, we love our street trees. If you are undertaking construction or development in an area where street trees may be effected, we have a set of guidelines to help you ensure these vital public assets are protected from harm.
You can view these guidelines here: City of Port Phillip Tree Protection Factsheet.
If you have any questions about street tree protection in the municipality, please reach out to our Trees and Parks team.