Tree FAQ's

1. Tree pruning, maintenance and removal

I'm thinking of installing solar, will council remove established trees to increase sunlight?

No, we won’t remove an established tree solely to reduce shading on solar panels. However, some pruning may be approved, provided it does not impact on the shape and integrity of the tree. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t install solar on your home but may mean you need to consider an alternative direction to face your panels or to include micro-invertor technology. Find out more about solar panels.

Will council remove trees to improve my view or outlook?

No, we won’t remove trees as you feel this may enhance your view or outlook. However, some pruning may be approved, provided it does not impact on the shape and integrity of the tree. 

Our communities value trees as they provide so many benefits, did you know?

  • Leafy streets and yards can increase property values by up to 30%
  • Trees are home, shelter and food for birds and other wildlife
  • Leaves filter the air we breathe by removing dust and other pollution particles.
  • Temperatures under the shade of a tree can be 10-25o c less than in the full sun.
  • The shade of a tree can reduce your home cooling costs by more than 10%.
  • Tree roots increase infiltration of water into the soil, reducing runoff and stormwater.

Will council remove bark and leaves from the footpath?

Seasonal shedding of bark, leaves, gumnuts or small limbs, as well as wildlife activities, such as birds, bees and possums are natural events and do not require officer attendance via a tree assessment or maintenance request and our streetsweepers regularly clean up the roadways. 

Find out more information about managing pests and wildlife

For any urgent tree issues, such as a tree blocking a road, please call our Customer Relations team on 8384 0666 during work hours or 8384 0622 after hours.

Does council prune trees around power lines?

SA Power Networks is responsible for pruning trees and clearing vegetation around powerlines.

In metro Adelaide regulations were amended to reflect the lower level of risk associated with vegetation around low voltage (LV) powerlines.  This allows vegetation to grow through LV powerlines in certain circumstances to improve the streetscape and visual amenity.

To find out more contact SA Power Networks on 13 12 61 or visit their website.

Regulated and significant trees

A regulated tree is any tree with a trunk circumference of 2m or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level). In the case of trees with multiple trunks, regulated trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 2m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level).

A significant tree is a regulated tree with a trunk circumference of 3m or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level). In the case of trees with multiple trunks, significant trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 3m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level).

Regulated and significant trees are protected under state government legislation. The City of Onkaparinga values trees and we will continue to, where appropriate, protect and maintain trees on our land.

Find out more about regulated and significant trees on private property.

What about native or threatened species of trees?

Special vegetation communities in our region include Stringybark forests in the upper Mount Lofty Ranges, Grey Box woodlands in the foothills and River Red Gum forests along watercourses.

We manage and protect more than 250 hectares of these types of vegetation communities with the help of trained staff, contractors and volunteers.  Many of these trees are protected by State Government legislation and  it is important that any work occurring nearby is carefully managed.

The State Governments Interactive Guide for Native Vegetation is an online tool that helps you decide if and how you need to apply to clear native vegetation.  Native vegetation in most parts of SA is protected by the Native Vegetation Act 1991.

 If you want to clear native vegetation for any reason, you need to:

  • check whether your proposed clearance is listed in the Native Vegetation Regulations 2017 (check our guide to the regulations); if it is, clearance is permitted but conditions usually apply
  • check whether the native vegetation you are proposing to clear is protected under the Native Vegetation Act 1991. 

Find out more about Nature Conservation in Onkaparinga.

Will council prune the tree in front of my property?

Absolutely!  We want our trees to thrive and be safe for everyone.  

If you believe your council tree needs pruning, lodge a customer request below and we’ll send one of our Urban Forest team out to assess it, and if required give it a trim. 

Lodge a request for tree pruning

ADOPT A TREE: Trees planted through the Adopt a Tree program are the exception. As noted in the website FAQ's and application process before applying, we will prune 'street' trees planted under this program but you have agreed to prune any 'fruit' trees requested to be planted. 

The tree outside my home is a hazard, will council remove it?

The City of Onkaparinga values trees and will always provide alternative suggestions to removal wherever appropriate.

A tree on council land will only be considered for removal if it meets one or more of our assessment criteria, with priority given to those cases that pose the highest risk. These include:

  • the structure of a tree is proven to be a hazard to people or property (ie major cracking or uprooting);
  • the tree(s) restricts access or sightlines for safe vehicle movement and other alternatives, such as effective pruning cannot be found;
  • the tree(s) has proven to be causing substantial damage to private dwellings or other structures. (We require a written engineers report as supporting evidence of that damage);


  • if substantial damage is being caused to infrastructure (ie public/private utilities) and alternative methods such as repairs, relocation of services, root pruning or root barriers will be ineffective. (We require written evidence supporting that damage);
  • the tree(s) is substantially contributing to ongoing damage or nuisance to public or private property and no other viable means are available to rectify the situation;
  • the tree(s) is substantially affected by a disease or insect infestation to a stage which cannot be appropriately managed;
  • where statutory vegetation power line clearance (eg SA Power Network pruning) has resulted in unsatisfactory visual amenity or compromised the structural integrity.

For more information read the Tree assessment criteria brochure(PDF, 764KB).

If you have a tree on council land that you would like assessed for removal please complete the form via the link below. Our Urban Forest team will visit the location, assess the tree and let you know the outcome.

 Tree Assessment form

Does council supply mulch for residents?

We do not supply mulch to residents for use in private gardens.

Mulch generated through council pruning/removal programs is used on our garden beds and reserves. We have such a large area requiring mulching across our city that we often have to purchase extra from commercial suppliers.

If you are looking for mulch for your garden, we recommend you contact a commercial tree company who are usually happy to provide mulch to private residents. Other sources for more formal ornamental style of mulches are available at landscape supply depots and commercial hardware stores.

Can council prune, maintain or remove trees on private land?

No, we can only prune, maintain and remove trees that are under our care and control on public land.




2. Tree planting: street trees (Suburb Improvement Program)

How does council decide which streets and suburbs receive trees?

As well as beautifying older suburbs, we've integrated the findings from aerial heat and canopy mapping to help us prioritise planting locations based on tree canopy cover, vulnerable populations to heat and pedestrian generators such as schools, shops, etc. We also seize opportunities to green streets whenever other major project works are planned.

Jump over to our tree targets and mapping webpage and you can use the same technology to see where hot spots and gaps are around your garden so that you can decide where you'd like to plant additional trees at home.

If you are not part of our larger Suburb Improvement Program you may still be eligible to apply for a tree to be planted on your verge as part of our Adopt a Tree program

Which suburbs are planned next as part of the Suburb Improvement Plan?

The Urban Forest team are scheduling trees to be planted within the following suburbs in the next few years (subject to change):

  • Apr-Sept 2022 - Aldinga Beach and Port Willunga
  • Apr-Sept 2023/24 - Aldinga, Sellicks Beach, Seaford and Seaford Rise 

In the last few years the team have been busy planting new trees for the community to enjoy and homeowners to benefit from in:

  • Christie Downs
  • Hackham
  • Hackham West
  • Huntfield Heights
  • Noarlunga Downs 

If you didn't receive a tree as part of our Suburb Improvement Program you may still be eligible to apply for a tree to be planted on your verge as part of our Adopt a Tree program


Where do we source the tubestock (young trees) from?

The majority of trees we plant around the council area are grown from seed by our nursery staff at the Seaford Meadows depot. We expanded the nursery a few years ago to cope with extra demand. The remainder are purchased from specialist wholesale plant nurseries.

If you're looking for some guidance on where to purchase trees and plants for your garden at home, this native plant nurseries list is a good place to start. Still planning what to plant? Download the small, medium and large tree factsheets in the Planting at Home section on our website to give you some inspiration.

Will all newly planted trees be drought resistant?

The majority of trees we plant are drought tolerant native species.  However, it’s important that our Arborists match the right tree for the right location.  So, during the assessment phase, consideration is given to any existing streetscape plantings, the location and any infrastructure present.

Will council water new street trees?

All new trees planted require water and a little extra care to help them establish and succeed.

Street trees planted as part of our Suburb Improvement Program of works will be watered, cared for and pruned by our Parks team, as part of a scheduled maintenance program.

Residents that are not receiving trees as part of our planned program of works but that have requested to be part of our Adopt a Tree program, agree to be responsible for watering trees planted in their verge as part of the application process.

We're also making use of mother nature to water street trees. Treenet stormwater kerb inlets are being connected in areas where we're undertaking streetscape improvements or rebuilding the kerbing.

How will I know when the trees are to be planted in my street?

Street trees are generally planted between April-September each year.

If your street is going to receive new trees, the process is as follows:

  1. A temporary sign will be installed at the start and end of the road outlining tree planting works are to occur.
  2. An arborist will visit the street and assess suitable locations for the trees taking into consideration existing infrastructure above and below ground, access and sizing.
  3. The arborist will determine the number and species of trees to be planted that best suit your street and overall location and the pavement will be marked to indicate where trees are to be planted.
  4. Residents of the street will receive a calling card notifying them that they are (or are not) to receive a tree outside of their property and outlining the species of tree that will be planted. At this stage you have two weeks in which to find out more using online resources and if need be contact our Urban Forest team.
  5. Trees will then be planted and not removed. We will water, care for and prune the trees as part of an ongoing maintenance schedule.

Can I change the tree species planned for planting or opt out entirely?

You can be assured that a trained arborist has determined the species of trees to be planted to best suit your street and overall location. They have considered existing infrastructure above and below ground, access and sizing when making this decision.

If you wish to discuss the species selected or have concerns about the planting due to occur, please contact our Urban Forest team on 8384 0666 within the two week period immediately following the date of the calling card being left in your letterbox.

What happens if my tree is vandalised?

If the tree outside of your home is vandalised please submit a customer request. You can do this using the online customer request form, calling our customer service team on 8384 0666 or popping into one of our offices in person.  Once the request is received, our Urban Forest team will be in touch.

Why aren't I having a street tree planted outside of my home?

When assessing the suitability of locations for planting new street trees, arborists take a number of factors into consideration to ensure that trees will thrive and grow.  

The rule of thumb is that they need to ensure that new trees are not planted any closer than 3m from a driveway, 6m from a corner plot or 1.5m from the kerb.

Other factors include:

  • existing underground services that will be compromised by digging or tree roots
  • planting on a corner or driveway that may block line of sight
  • a nearby home has solar panels that will be shaded
  • existing vegetation is present.

Can I plant a tree in my verge or request Council to plant one for me?

No trees are to be planted by residents in verges. 

If you have not had a tree planted as part of the large scale Suburb Improvement Program you may still be eligible to have a tree planted as part of the Adopt a Tree program. 




3. Tree planting: requesting a tree be planted (Adopt a Tree)

How can I request to Adopt a Tree?

City of Onkaparinga homeowners can request to Adopt a Tree for their verge and become a valued contributor to the growth of our regions urban forest.  As part of this joint commitment, we grow or supply the young tree and plant it in your verge, you agree to water and care for it.  

Adopt a Tree is a rolling program and you can request a tree at any time - our team then sort these requests by the relevant planting season to forward plan.  Between April to the following March requests are assessed ready for trees to be planted between that May-October.  For instance, if you request a tree in April 2023 and are eligible, it will be planted in winter 2024.

From April 2023 we have our usual Adopt a STREET Tree program but are also expanding this and trialing an Adopt a FRUIT Tree program. 

For more details and FAQ's visit the Adopt a Tree webpage

For up to date information throughout the year on Adopt a Tree and many other programs follow Sustainable Onkaparinga on Facebook.