Tree Pruning Guide

One of the key objectives when pruning a tree is to create and maintain a strong structure with a functional and pleasing form. This can be achieved by undertaking pruning regularly throughout the life of the tree. All pruning should allow for natural distribution of foliage and weight along the branches and branch ends according to species and their stages of maturity. Pruning can guide the form of a tree and correct defects such as poor structure.

There should always be a good reason to prune a tree. Pruning causes wounds that the tree responds to by using stored energy reserves. Frequent and indiscriminate pruning will stress the tree and consequently adversely affect its health.

It is recommended that a full tree assessment is undertaken at minimum every 12 months. The assessment should be carried out by a qualified consulting Arborist (AQF level 5). Council does not provide this service. 

General Requirements

All pruning works within the City of Ryde must be carried out:

  • by an Arborist with a minimum qualification of AQF level 3
  • in accordance with the Australian Standard 4373 - 2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees
  • in accordance with the Workcover Code of Practice - Amenity Tree Industry 1998
  • in accordance with this Technical Manual.

However, prior written approval to remove deadwood from a Tree must be obtained if the Tree:

  • is or forms part of a heritage item; or
  • is within one of the five heritage conservation areas within the City of Ryde (Call Customer Service on 9952 8222 to see if this applies to you).


It is the residents', and owners' responsibility to ensure that any tree works on private property are undertaken in accordance with City of Ryde Council's Development Control Plan (DCP) 2014 Part 9.5 - Tree Preservation(PDF, 1MB)

If tree works are undertaken contrary to Council's DCP, the owner consenting or undertaking the works can be subject to $3,000 on the spot fines and/or legal action resulting in fines up to $1.1M.

Pruning less than ten per cent of the crown of a tree in a 12 month period

Pruning less than ten (10) per cent of the crown of a tree in a 12 month period is permitted in the City of Ryde Council local government area when the above requirements have been met. 

When planning on pruning branches 60mm in diameter or over, it is recommended you have a valid permit approved by Council's Tree Management Officers (AQF level 5). 

A permit to prune more than ten (10) per cent or pruning brances over 60mm in diameter may be obtained through a Tree Management Application(PDF, 269KB).

Incorrect Pruning

Incorrect or excessive pruning may result in:

  • Increased hazard/risk
  • Poorly attached regrowth (epicormic growth)
  • Poor tree habit/form and structural defects
  • Introduction of pathogens
  • Reduction of trees life expectancy.

Pruning of Neighbouring Tree Branches

Where branches overhang from a neighbouring property, you are permitted to prune less than ten (10) per cent of the tree crown once in any 12 month period. However, it is always advisable to speak to the owner of the tree and discuss with them your intentions to gain their consent. 

In some cases, and for various reasons, consent from your neighbour cannot always be obtained. If you find you are in a dispute with your neighbour about trees you may need to consider alternative options. 

Tree disputes
Council will not get involved with neighbour disputes. If you cannot come to an amicable agreement with your neighbour for tree pruning, you should consider the following:

  • Refer to the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006, other relevant legislation and the Land and Environment Court online FAQ Sheets to better understand the nature of your issue.
  • Seek free mediation by contacting the Community Justice Centre by calling 1800 990 777 or visit
  • In the event where mediation is unsuccessful, you will need to seek professional legal advice.