Greens tree policy


Marrickville Council’s Street Tree Policy (1993), as amended by Marrickville’s Greens Councillors – (Jan 2010)


The Greens seek to expand Marrickville’s urban tree canopy and to enrich public spaces with trees, understory planting, bush pockets and landscaping, providing amenity to residents and increasing habitat for native animal species.

The Greens vision is to encourage and facilitate council and residents to plant more trees, larger trees and more endemic and native trees and to protect and maintain the existing tree stock.

We see a Marrickville that is shady and fresh where trees enhance the urban environment providing relief from traffic, industrial activity, urban infrastructure and pollution. The Greens want to reduce the heat of our summers and help fight climate change.


To provide objectives and guidelines for street tree planting, maintenance and associated urban landscaping in the Marrickville Local Government Area to achieve Council’s vision.


1)      to expand Marrickville’s tree canopy by 10% by 2015.

2)     to enhance the overall tree amenity of the Marrickville council area and hence the quality of life for its residents, visitors and local fauna.

3)    to improve the physical and visual quality of the streetscapes by increasing the number and variety of street trees

4)    to rebalance the tree species stock in favour of endemic and native species.

5)    to ameliorate climate change by increasing  local carbon sequestration.

6)    to maximize the opportunities for trees and other plantings in conjunction with civic and street works such as Local Area Traffic Management Schemes (LATMS), bike infrastructure, road works and path works.

7)    to implement Urban Stormwater Integrated Management (USWIM) and Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles in association with tree planting.

8)    to create opportunities for the development of micro biodiversity areas by tree and associated plantings.

9)to encourage community awareness and appreciation of the                       importance of trees in the urban environment and to provide a  format for public participation in council’s street tree management strategies and planting and maintenance program.

10) to preserve existing trees and streetscapes wherever possible.

11) to develop wildlife and biodiversity corridors in appropriate locations eg:  along watercourses (Cooks River) or proposed Greenway corridor.

12) to establish urban forests in appropriate locations across the municipality.

13) to plant trees and other plants that produce edible fruit in appropriate locations to acknowledge the traditions in Marrickville’s CALD communities.

14) to establish, maintain and regularly monitor a publically accessible database and GIS mapping of  Council’s tree assets to assess the progress of priority areas and canopy growth.

15) to minimise the “heat island” effect across the municipality and thereby reduce negative effects of heat stress .


The following guidelines should enable Council officers to interpret and implement Council’s vision and objectives. These guidelines form the basis of the Street Tree Management Policy.

1) Streetscape Design Options

While streetscape design options should be guided by 3 basic aims: more trees, larger trees and endemic trees, the variety of streets in the Marrickville LGA will require a more varied approach to street design.  Design options should require that

  • street trees shall be planted wherever it is practicable.
  • taller canopy trees shall be used wherever practicable.
  • natural or endemic vegetation shall be planted or reinforced where possible or appropriate.
  • tree species that reflect heritage qualities within a particular area shall be used where appropriate.
  • if practicable every street should have at least 1 substantial tree greater than 10 metres in height.
  • where footpaths are too narrow for trees, the road shoulders shall be investigated for the possibility of planting trees, especially larger trees.
  • clumped planting’s shall be used in road closures and car parks
  • large tree species shall be used to reduce the visual impact of unsightly buildings and large pavement areas.
  • streets that contain tree plantings in their shoulders shall be retained whenever possible.
  • in wide footpath areas street trees shall be planted one-third in from the kerb to allow for reasonable canopy development.
  • verge grass will be removed and replanted as appropriate  with street tree plantings and shrub and ground cover plantings.
  • shrub and ground cover planting at the base of street trees shall be considered wherever practicable.  This will remove much of the prevalent weed growth and prevent exposure to public liability from pedestrians tripping on cement planting pit edge.
  • where street trees are planted in road shoulders, the bitumen surface shall be replaced with a more porous material according to WSUD principles
  • swales should be incorporated into the design of new pavement and gutter treatments and adapted to existing areas where possible.
  • opportunities for mid street plantings should be created in streets that are suitable.
  • in streets with overhead wires along one side, large trees be planted on the wire free side unless aerial bundle cables are proposed or in situ.
  • tree planting and landscaping should accompany road infrastructure where appropriate eg: LATM works and bike paths, road works and foot path works etc.
  • suitable land should be identified for the creation of urban forest areas across the municipality .

2) Tree Planting of Traffic Devices

Traffic devices present an opportunity for reinvigorating and greening the urban landscape.  With judicious planting and narrowing of pavement areas, the roadside can be converted into a mini-linear park.

  • landscaping of traffic devices shall be undertaken wherever possible.
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) guidelines shall be considered as a central element in street design and traffic calming schemes.
  • planting schemes shall be used in preference to hard pavement surfaces on traffic devices and islands and shall comprise of low maintenance trees and plants.
  • landscaping of road closures to adjoin nearby parklands shall be considered  (eg Fowler St, Camperdown and Clarendon Rd, Stanmore)
  • a single large tree or group of large trees in a road closure or traffic island shall be standard procedure unless specific circumstances preclude this and then medium sized trees shall be planted.
  • tree planting shall be achieved where parking bays are provided to compensate for a lack of planting in the footpath area
  • in accordance with Council’s Draft Greenhouse strategy, shade trees shall be planted for every four car park spaces where practicable.

3) Site Suitability and Tree Species Selection

Tree species selection is critical in achieving Council’s vision. Again, species selection should be guided by the aims of more trees, larger trees and endemic trees. This notwithstanding, regard to the following should be given when selecting trees species for appropriate site conditions .

  • scale  – attempts to accommodate large mature sized trees shall be part of any consideration
  • overhead powerlines  – Aerial Bundle Cabling shall be used to  protect and maintain existing  trees under powerlines where necessary.  New plantings should be selected according to mature size of tree.
  • evergreen or deciduous  –  consideration shall be given to the location and requirement for light in winter.
  • flower types  / fruit / berries  – consideration should be given to planting trees with edible fruit in suitable locations.
  • footpaths – the width and type of footpath shall be considered with regard to the selection of tree and permeable surfaces used where possible around tree plantings.
  • Where footpath width prevents tree plantings kerb and gutter alignments should be altered to accommodate them

The following tree species are considered suitable for, but not limited to, use in the prevailing conditions listed below.

Unrestricted footpaths or where space has been made to accommodate them – medium to large trees and shrubs –

Acmena smithii (Lilly Pilly) Stenocarpus/ Tristaniopsis laurina / Callistemons / Ginkgo / Flazinus “Raywoodii” / Pittosporums / Pistacia / Gordonia / Podocarpus falcatus / Melaleuca / Prunus / Eucalyptus sideroxylon (iron bark gum), ficifola (flowering gum) ,maculata (spotted gum) ,microcorys (tallowood gum), citriodoria (lemon-scented gum),  Bangalow palm/ Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, Cabbage Tree Palm/ Livistona Australis, Banksias

Under wire   – less than 7 M at maturity

Callistemon (Pink-tip and drooping bottlebrush) Pittosporum /Pistacia/ Casuarina stricta (drooping she-oak)/ Leptospermum petersonii (lemon-scented tea tree)/Melaleuca quinquenervia (broad-leaved paperbark)/Melaleuca styphelioides (prickly paperbark)/ Tristania laurina(water gum)/ Bauhinia variegata (butterfly bush)/ Fraxinus oxycarpa (desert ash)/ Sapium sebiferum (Chinese tallow tree)

Narrow footpaths

Tristaniopsis laurina / Callistemons (bottlebrushes) / Camellia japonica / Camellia sasanqua / Banksias, Lilly Pilly.

Replacing grass verges

fruit trees  / native grasses, lomandra, dianellas / small wattles / bottlebrushes/  banksias / medium grevilleas / tea trees / pin cushion hakea / willow-leaved hakea / groundcovers

4) Tree Planting Specification

To ensure trees are planted to enable survival and growth, and in accordance with Water Sensitive Urban Design principles, the following guidelines are recommended:

  • new plantings shall generally be undertaken at the optimum time  – April to October.
  • minimum size of trees shall be 25 litre size for residential areas and 75 litre size for commercial and industrial size.
  • use of current WSUD principles including consideration of bio retention pits shall be employed with all new plantings.
  • root barriers shall be installed to a depth of 300mm prior to planting where likelihood of root damage is predicted.
  • where surface roots may be problematic, planting holes shall be large and well aerated.
  • 50mm x 50mm hardwood stakes shall be used to support new plantings.
  • the base of plantings will be mulched regularly and slow release fertiliser shall be used as required.

5) Maintenance

Ongoing maintenance is required for all street trees and associated plantings.  A database outlining species, location, age and condition  should be undertaken and updated regularly to allow for ongoing management of the tree canopy.

  • regular inspections and maintenance shall be undertaken
  • new trees shall be watered during the first two years after planting.
  • residents receiving new trees shall be encouraged to take a custodian role in the maintenance of the tree and other verge plantings.
  • resident planting schemes shall be encouraged and supported where appropriate by Council
  • a suitability qualified horticulturist shall be engaged by Council to lead tree planting and maintenance.

6) Selective Pruning Practices

Selective pruning may involve gully pruning, flat topping, crown lifting and crown thinning and should be done in accordance with the following:


  • all pruning work shall be carried out in accordance with approved and professionally accepted aboricultural practices.
  • new plantings of street trees shall be shaped initially to a single trunk and upright growth.
  • gradual removal of low lateral branches and crown lifting will be done to facilitate pedestrian and traffic visibility where required.
  • the type of pruning shall be adopted according to the most appropriate method given tree species, age and site conditions
  • low voltage aerial bundle collectors shall be the preferred option to  remove the need for continual pruning.
  • pruning of street trees shall be restricted to reducing or eliminating a hazard.
  • tree branches overhanging private property shall be removed if the complaint is valid.

Non Valid Reasons for Tree Pruning

  • leaf drop that is not causing blockage to gutters and downpipes
  • more natural light
  • street lighting of private property
  • views
  • shade
  • fruit and resin drop
  • inappropriate species
  • residents request without significant reason

7) Root Damage Controls

Where it is established that street tree roots are causing damage or a potential safety hazard, the following guidelines are to be followed:

  • where the cost benefits and quality of a tree does not justify retaining the tree, then the subject tree shall be removed following approval by Council and replaced with a more suitable species
  • if there is an expressed desire to retain the tree, then the offending roots shall be pruned, canopy reduced and a root barrier shall be installed to prohibit further breaching by the tree.
  • where the footpath is the subject of damage by tree roots then consideration should be given WSUD principles.
  • Adequate soil exposure shall be provided around the base of the tree and/or root barriers installed if there is a considered probability of root disturbance to pavement or structures in the future.
  • root pruning shall not be carried out where it may predispose the tree to instability
  • consideration shall be given to the possibility of carrying out a road reduction and installing root barriers adjacent to the new kerb.

8) Tree Removals and Replacement

Trees should only be removed when there are no other options for available.

Any street tree that is being considered for removal should be inspected by Council’s tree management officer and if this inspection indicates there is a strong reason for its removal then Council will notify surrounding residents.

This notification will be by letter-drop to the extent of six properties either side of the proposed removal and allow two weeks for any comment.  The proposed tree removal will also be posted on Council’s website.

In the event of any comments and objections that council officers cannot resolve, a report will be made to council stating the case for removal for Council to determine the matter.


Trees shall only be removed when:

  • no other option for action is available
  • residents have been notified and given sufficient explanation for the pending removal and proposed replacement.
  • upon removal, the location/street shall be programmed for replacement of a suitable species
  • tree cuttings shall be converted to mulch by Council and utilised where suitable in Council’s landscape projects or distributed to schools and residents of the council area as determined by need

9) Staff Training and Minimum Qualifications

The level of professionalism in Council’s service to residents is reflected by the skill and efficiency of the staff implementing this service.  Staff involved in tree planting and maintenance should have some basic qualifications to best equip them for this work and should have a team leader with appropriate qualifications who can oversee this work.


  • tree staff shall be trained and updated on latest tree planting and maintenance techniques.
  • gangers for tree maintenance shall hold a minimum qualification for this work.
  • gangers for tree planting shall hold a minimum qualification for this work.

10) Tree Planting in Urban and Industrial areas

Overview of S26 contributions  – uses include provision for Aerial Bundle Cabling  – creating a fund to enhance the local urban and industrial environment with the provision and maintenance .

Objective of this system are:

  • to create an attractive and environmentally green street environment for retailers, workers, shoppers and residents
  • to create ecologically sustainable micro environments within an urban setting
  • soften the imposing structure by introducing a human scale
  • to provide shade for both people and cars (particularly on buildings facing west)
  • to facilitate a consistent approach to street scapes that includes plantings that are undertaken using best practice environmental methods and WSUD as well as existing programs such as ‘sustainability street by street’ and local sub-catchment projects.

11) Community Education and Engagement

The implementation of the Street Tree Management Policy must include an ongoing commitment and strategy to educate and engage the community in the process of creating a greener urban environment.

  • to provide regular information to residents about  the importance of trees and associated plantings in the urban environment.
  • to offer hands on opportunities for residents to engage with tree planting and maintenance as well as verge planting and maintenance.
  • to facilitate community groups ongoing stewardship of trees, bush pockets and associated plantings in public areas.
  • to provide saplings and shrubs for community use in bush pockets, urban forests and verge plantings.
  • to work with schools and school communities offering resources and information on the importance of trees and associated plantings in the environment.

12) Implementation Program

The implementation of the Street Tree Management Policy has the following overriding strategy:

  • to preserve trees and eliminate harmful practices to trees
  • to increase the tree canopy with trees that are best suited to specific site conditions
  • to develop unity in the overall street plantings and ‘Street by Street’ sustainability program incorporating WSUD principles and linking with the USWIM program.
  • to promote a general awareness within the local public and private sector of the importance of trees and associated plantings in the urban environment.
  • to provide for public participation in the implementation of tree planting schemes and also with revegetation teams.
  • to improve the skills base and professionalism within Council with regard to tree management, renewal and maintenance.
  • to create a holistic approach and integrate with local sub-catchment area projects and plans.
  • to measure and record the success of this policy.


  • Your plan is impressive and I propose to share with the Greens guy in Bathurst. We have wide paved streets of areas of 28,000 m/2 but with 5 or 6 small trees only. The comments I get from council as to why no trees include, underground services, people don’t want, risk of falling branches etc. How did you respond to similar resistance if any? I believe we could reduce refective heat, capture Co2 and pollutants,improve air qualtity. Not sure I agree with your selection of tree species but then we have a different climate. Also your projection of an increase of 10% increase of canopy cover by 2015. You must be coming from a large base. Your comments and guidence will be greatly appreciated. Regards Warwick Artis (Trees not Trucks) Bathurst

  • As a resident of Marrickville I am, on the whole, in favour of your policy. However …

    Here are my positive comments:
    * An audit needs to be done to find out what trees are where in Marrickville’s streets and public areas.
    * It’s not enough to blandly state that trees improve air quality when many of Marrickville’s trees are themselves creating health risks due to their pollen and smell. The flowering ash trees (fraxinus griffithii) lining many streets in Stanmore, Camperdown and Newtown are closely related to privet and are considered by many to be more allergenic.
    * Your list of suitable plantings contains Chinese Tallow Tree, considered by many authorities in Sydney and elsewhere (e.g. Hurstville Council and the local Community Tree Watch Group) to be a noxious weed. There are many of these in M’ville’s parks.

  • Sounds good and I dont understand why it is taking so long for Council to engage with this. If I might make a suggestion for an addition to your policy maybe you could specify that Council will provide a service enabling residents to request installation of street trees in front of their house or street. If you go to councils home page today you can find lots of information about how to get trees removed but nothing on how to get them planted. Consequently Ive seen 6 large trees removed within sight of my property and none planted in the last 2 years. My efforts in that time to contact someone in council to request some street planting have been fruitless.

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