Tree maintenance and pruning

Preserving existing trees

Council is responsible for trees in streets and on nature strips, as well as in more than 170 parks and reserves in Moreland.

Trees are a community asset and an important part of our environment. They make our streets more attractive, provide shade, and are a home for birds and wildlife. As our city gets hotter with the urban heat island effect, trees play a vital role in cooling down the city by providing shade to properties and streets.

The preservation of existing trees is of prime importance to Council and practical techniques are used to maintain the health of our trees. 

Urgent works and impact of storms

To report an urgent issue with a tree, such as a fallen or hanging branch which is dangerous, phone Council on 9240 1111 (24 hours). If the tree is on private property, please contact the Victoria State Emergency Service (SES).

Council carries out emergency works on trees where there is a risk to personal safety or the health of a tree is threatened.

Following storms and bad weather, Council receives many requests about branches and tree damage. Requests are responded to by Council in the following order of priority:

Priority 1

  • A branch has fallen over a road or obstructing access to a property.
  • A tree or branch has fallen onto an overhead electrical wire.
  • A tree is in danger of falling.
  • A large branch is hanging and is in danger of falling or damaging a property.

Priority 2

  • A large branch is obstructing a footpath.

Once emergency works are complete and trees made safe, Council then removes debris and branches and responds to other tree-related requests.

During periods of emergency works, our regular maintenance and pruning program is placed on hold.

Tree pruning

Council has a tree care and maintenance program which visits every neighbourhood in Moreland.

As part of this program, Council carries out pruning of Council trees where:

  • The tree is rubbing or against a building
  • The tree is significantly overhanging a building and a practicable pruning outcome can be achieved without removing structural limbs
  • The overhang within the property or over the road is less than 3 metres high
  • There is a Council tree branch which is hazardous or obstructing electrical wires, or
  • The tree is near power lines on Council land.

Pruning of trees on streets and in parks may only be carried out by an authorised Moreland Council arborist or contractor.

Council does not prune Council trees or sweep residential footpaths for seed and leaf drop.


Most insects which live on trees are harmless. Some insects can cause damage to a tree, but this is often temporary and does not cause long-term harm to the tree.

Detecting insects or termites in a tree does not necessarily require tree removal. 

  • Chewing insects, like caterpillars, feed on leaves and fruit of a tree. Trees generally bounce back, though repeat infestation may weaken a tree.
  • Sucking insects, like scale insects, feed on the liquid from leaves and twigs. Signs of infestation include scaly formations on branches and honeydew production.
  • Wood boring insects are often the most harmful to trees causing damage by boring into the stem or roots. If the infestation is serious, the upper leaves may be starved of nutrients. Signs of borer infestation include entry or exit holes in the bark and small mounds of sawdust at the base.

If insects are discovered in a tree on Council land, Council arborists assess the tree and the extent of any damage. Council may choose to carry out insect removal depending on the significance of the tree, its structural integrity and the extent of damage.

If an outbreak occurs that threatens the tree survival, Council investigates options, such as insecticide stem injection to keep the number of insects in check the following year.

Residents can help by mulching and watering the tree, physically removing the insects where possible, and fertilising the tree using seasol or carbohydrate (molasses or sugar 25g - 70g/lt).

Council is not responsible for insect infestations on private property. If you find an insect infestation on private property, you should consult a professional. Council is not legally responsible for any damage insects or other pests may cause to private property.

How to report a tree issue

To report an urgent issue, such as a fallen or hanging branch which is dangerous, phone Council on 9240 1111 (24 hours).

To let Council know about a dead, diseased or damaged tree, or tree with overhanging branches on a footpath, report the issue through the Council website or contact Council.

What happens after you report an issue

After you report the issue, a Council arborist will assess the tree or branch and Council will notify you of the outcome if requested.

If the health of the tree is at risk, such as through disease, pests or damage, Council will carry out necessary tree pruning and repair.

Other pruning is scheduled as part of the Council tree maintenance program which visits every neighbourhood in Moreland.

Trees on private property

Resident responsibilities

Residents need to make sure footpaths, laneways, rights of way and roads that adjoin your property are free of obstructions to pedestrians and other road users. 

Trees on private property need to be trimmed to a clearance height of 3 metres. Branches, shrubs and other vegetation must be pruned back to your property line. This is for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, to allow clear visibility and to prevent damage to vehicles.

Property owners are responsible for inspecting private overhead power lines on their property to ensure they are clear from trees or branches. If you receive a letter from Jemena asking you to prune trees on your property, this is the property owner's responsibility. Please note that Council does not prune trees on private property. 

Overhanging branches from a private property

If branches overhang from a private property onto a footpath, laneway or road, report the issue through the Council website or contact Council. A Council officer will inspect the property and then contact the property owner to request they cut the branches. Property owners may be fined if they do not comply with the request.

The pruning of privately-owned trees away from power lines should be referred to the relevant utility company, which is Citipower south of Moreland Road and AGL north of Moreland Road.

Council does not have the power to deal with trees or branches that are overhanging from a private property onto another private property. Disputes between neighbours about trees are covered by common law and are best resolved by talking directly to your neighbour.

If talking to your neighbour is unsuccessful, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria. This is a free service and can help you resolve your dispute without having to resort to taking legal action. Interpreters are provided.