Central Coast Council and Tree Removal Applications with William Jones

John:  Okay so qualified arborist, how many years?

Will:    Eighteen years.

John:  Eighteen years.  All 18 with Tree and Garden?

Will:    No.

John:  Oh okay.

Will:    Probably the last five years with Tree and Garden on a Central Coast.

John:    Okay.  Central Coast….

Will:    New South Wales.

John:    Right, Will, let’s have a chat about – I mean I’m living at Pearl Beach and, as you know, a lot of trees in this area being from a city that’s kind of new to me, having to swerve around branches and whatnot on the road but I guess a lot of people in this area probably all have similar questions about, you know, what they can do in terms of, not what they can do but how far they can go in terms of pruning and removal, tree removal?

So, I mean, for someone like me if I had a large tree in my yard and I wanted it gone I probably just scale a 20 foot later and start hacking away.  Is that – like what…  What should people be doing when it comes to tree removal or pruning?  I mean, just explain to me, what is the difference between pruning and trimming or, I mean, what’s removal?  Is that the whole lot?

Will:    Yeah, removals a whole lot.  Trimming and lopping or cutting, kind of the same things; all tree pruning.

John:    So what’s the difference between cutting and lopping?

Will:    There’s two things.  There’s tree lopping which is kind of the indiscriminate cutting of a tree and there’s proper tree pruning which is carried out by a trained horticulturalist or arborist and that’s pruning a branch properly.

John:    So when you say lopping, is that when they just hack a section off?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Is it – so…

Will:    Just hacking, chopping.

John:    Right.

Will:    (Headless).

John:    So lopping a bad thing?

Will:    Bad thing, yeah.

John:    Right, okay.  Because I was reading some information on your site and there was an article posted about lopping and it was saying that it’s a bad thing and I was a bit confused because I wasn’t sure how the difference – the difference between cutting and lopping or I guess is it just…  I guess we could probably just argue the semantics of it all day long but the true definition of lopping is where you just…

Will:    Hacking, right.  Anyone can lop a tree basically.

John:    Right, so you don’t have to be qualified to lop?  So I’m a qualified lopper!

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Okay, so getting back to my original point, what are some of the restrictions in, say, my area, Pearl Beach, when it comes to…

Will:    Sure.

John:    …trimming your trees, I mean…

Will:    Trees in this area are – it’s a very leafy tree area.  It’s got a lot of significant trees and it’s…

John:    Native trees.

Will:    And native trees and it’s kind of a special undeveloped bushy leafy beachside suburb and…

John:    The trees there are they protected are a lot of those trees protected?

Will:    All native, all trees, all native trees, are protected.

John:    Okay.

Will:    Under the council’s tree preservation order.

John:    Right.  How do you know which ones are?  How do you know which ones are?

Will:    You can check the council’s tree preservation order online.

John:    Okay, or your Web site?

Will:    Or you can go to my Web site.

John:    You’ve got a full PDF guide.

Will:    Treeandgarden.com.au.

John:    Yeah, and you’ve got a full PDF guide.

Will:    PDF.

John:    It’s got all of the different trees on it and everything?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Right, that’s great!

Will:    But, if you look at the trees it’s going to say Jacaranda Mimosifolia, and you’re going to go, what the hell is that?

John:    Right.

Will:    You’re not going to know what names relate to what trees.

John:    Okay.

Will:    That’s where an arborist comes in.

John:    Right.

Will:    You’re going to see a tree on the list and you’re going to go, ah, is my tree one of those or not?

John:    Yeah, those guides they’ve got on the council Web site have photos of the trees?

Will:    No.

John:    They don’t?

Will:    No.

John:    Ah.

Will:    So as far as the tree identification point of view that’s going to be hard for you.

John:    Because I know some of the actual proper terms for trees.  I mean, I look at a tree and go, wow, that’s a nice tree.  But there are so many – again, you can get information on your site and use actual proper scientific names.

Will:    Botanical name.

John:    Oh botanical, see, I’m a lopper, I’m a tree lopper I don’t know the…  But, yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t know one tree from another in terms of the botanical name.  I know, I guess, what would you call them…

Will:    The common name.  I mean, yeah, the slang name is – the preservation order will give you the common name and the botanical name.

John:    Okay, right.  So if I was to want to trim a tree or take some pretty big branches down like say around Pearl Beach I would just go to which council?

Will:    We’re in Gosford council here and you can prune a tree without council approval.

John:    Okay.

Will:    The council – not just from a council point of view but from a tree health point of view, if you’ve got a beautiful tree and you want to look after it you shouldn’t prune more than say 15 to 20% of it off.

John:    Right.

Will:    Otherwise it’s going to cause a tree stress.

John:    Okay, if someone hands me a pair of shears and I think, right, okay, I’m going to prune this tree and you start off with good intention and then like, I always think I’m going to start cutting and then you just get carried away and before you know it you’ve cut about about 80% of the tree away.

Will:    Yeah, yeah!

John:    So, yeah, right.  So pruning can be done by anyone, right?

Will:    Lopping can be done by anyone.

John:    Well, yeah.  I shouldn’t say by anyone.

Will:    Pruning…

John:    You don’t need to go through council?

Will:    No, you don’t need to go through council for pruning.

John:    Okay.

Will:    Right.

John:    So just general pruning.  Someone could just go out and go and prune a tree.  You say what, 15% of the tree?

Will:    Yeah, 10 to 15% is a nice amount.

John:    Right, and what’s the purpose of pruning is that just to ensure…

Will:    Okay, I guess for the trees point of view, the tree structure, to improve the trees balance.

John:    Okay.

Will:    To improve the trees aesthetics and looks for some people.  To remove the deadwood.

John:    Okay.

Will:    To remove wounded branches, crossing branches.

John:    So a lot of the dead stuff would be on the outside, is that right?

Will:    Yeah, (dead branches) on the inside as well.

John:    Okay.

Will:    And then there’s pruning for amenity like pruning away from your building, pruning away from power lines, off driveways…

John:    Okay.

Will:    Pruning to open your view.  Pruning to let more sunlight in.

John:    Okay, all right.  So pruning can be done by anyone?  You don’t need to go to council for that?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    So as, say, a home owner in this area, again, getting back to my original point of Pearl being in Pearl Beach, I can prune my tree but if I wanted to do like remove some big branches like – I mean, I guess where the confusion lies for myself personally, do I call a professional arborist like you or do I call the council?  Like, how do I know who to call or should I just go straight to an arborist and get their advice?

Will:    Yeah, as far are calling the council, it’s going to end up on their desk.

John:    Jumping through hoops.

Will:    And trying to get to the right person to give you advice is going to take a couple of day’s maybe to get a response.

John:    Right.

Will:    If you call your local arborist you’re going to get a quick response and the right advice straightaway.

John:    Okay, so they give you advice as to how much you can…

Will:    How much you can prune, what particular branches need pruning and don’t need pruning.

John:    Right, okay.

Will:    And what’s your goal…

John:    It sounds like a hassle going to council is it, doesn’t it?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Let’s not sugar coat it.

Will:    But it can be a hassle trying to find a good tradesman as well so…

John:    Right, you won’t have that problem with Tree and Garden.

Will:    Not at all.

John:    Okay, yeah, so I can prune and if I’m not sure I can get in touch with an arborist.  What about, we’ve already covered identifying protected species.

Will:    Yep.

John:    Are there any other concerns that people should take, factors, that they should take into consideration before they climb up a 20-foot ladder like I’m about to in the backyard and start hacking away at everything?

Will:    Yeah, I mean, your own personal safety for one.

John:    Right.

Will:    And then the safety of your home and your car.  You know, you could do damage.

John:    You have seen a few doozies, yeah?

Will:    Yeah, I have a friend in Tasmania who engaged, or no, a friend of a friend who engaged an arborist tree lopper to do some work for them and they came to their house with a 20-foot ladder, he climbed up the ladder, lopped the tree, feel, broke his hip and he didn’t have insurance.  So now he’s a quadriplegic and she feels terrible because she didn’t engage a suitably qualified insured…

John:    How do you know then if your – how do you know that the person that you’re hiring is qualified?  What steps do you go to to ensure that they’ve got, they’re properly qualified, and they’ve got, say, public liability insurance.

Will:    Yeah, they’re obviously going to want to see copies of their certificates of currency and a copy of their qualification.

John:    So you just ask for that stuff when they rock up.

Will:    Yeah.

John:    So what should a qualified arborist have?

Will:    A minimal Certificate 3 in Aboriculture.

John:    Okay.

Will:    There’s Certificate 2, 3 and a diploma level.

John:    Right.

Will:    But for your general working arborist a Certificate 3 is sufficient.

John:    Okay.

Will:    That’s in New South Wales, Central Coast.

John:    Central Coast.

Will:    And different states…Yeah, different training organizations and structures.

John:    Right, okay.  So, make sure if you’re considering taking a tree down or making considerable changes to a tree that you call qualified arborists who will advise the best course of action.  Identify the tree by – well, I mean an arborist would tell you that anyway wouldn’t they?  They’d say, wait a minute, you can’t cut this tree down because it’s a eucalyptus whatever and it’s got half a dozen…

Will:    It might have yellow-bellied gliders.  It might be a habitat tree.

John:    Okay, right.

Will:    To endangered species.  There’s a lot of different parameters.

John:    And I guess being on the Central Coast like a lot of areas are heavily protected, yes?

Will:    Yes, some areas are.

John:    Okay, what are some of the most heavily protected?  I know down here in Pearl Beach it’s a holiday sort of area and I guess, I mean, I’m not up to speed with council regulations in terms of what you can and can’t do when it comes to tree removal and so forth but I know – I was reading an article on your site and you mentioned somewhere else that you’ve only got to travel about five minutes down the road and the regulations change.

Will:    Change, Bateua Bay on the Central Coast and there’s Bateua Bay East.

John:    Okay.

Will:    Which is just across the road from normal Bateua Bay and the council restrictions there are much more strict in that area.

John:    Right, okay.  So what about people that have gone about – what about people that have just taken it upon themselves to remove trees?  I mean, what sort of trouble could a person get into if they do take a tree out and it’s protected?

Will:    It can be minimum fines of $600 and upwards.  I mean, if the council wants to get nasty they can take it them to land and environment court for…

John:    Yeah, right.

Will:    …removing significant trees.

John:    I know when I lived in – there was a suburb that I lived in Brisbane and there were people purposely removing trees so that you could see – you had city views.  Is that still going on?

Will:    Yes, that’s still going on.

John:    People go and hack out trees, right, and say…

Will:    A bit of midnight gardening.

John:    Yeah, yeah.  There are all of these trees.  Actually they weren’t cutting them down, they were poisoning them.  Yeah, at the base and the trees would die and then six months later the property was for sale listed as city views.  Suddenly there’s like half a dozen trees that have just died…

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Right on the skyline, a direct path.  That’s a bit coincidental isn’t it?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Anything else that you want to add?  Any other considerations for, don’t take it upon yourself to be scaling a ladder and doing anything stupid, falling down and breaking your hip, be sure to speak to a qualified arborist first at least get their guidance in terms of being able to identify the tree.  And arborist should know, a qualified arborist, should know what type of tree your dealing with and whether or not it’s protected and what happens when you actually do – do you have to go to council, how does that process differ from say an arborist.

Will:    It’s up to the home owner to get approval for the tree so they can download the Tree Works application form from a council Web site or from our Web site there’s a link to that there.  They fill it out and pay, there’s a fee, there’s a $100 fee to apply to have the tree removed and they…

John:    So wait a minute, you’ve got to pay $100.00 to have the council come out and take a tree down?

Will:    To have a look at your tree.

John:    Shouldn’t that come out of your rates?

Will:    It (should) yeah.

John:    What if a tree is impeding on, say, power lines or something or it’s…

Will:    Even if it’s an emergency, you know, you still need council approval unless the trees lifting out of the ground and about to fall on your house.

John:    Right, okay.  Yeah, continue so $100.00?

Will:    $100.00 you send it in, you get the paperwork, they’ll send in a tree assessment officer, tree preservation officer out to your property.

John:    Oh, okay.

Will:    Check the trees and he’ll give the okay and then you’ll receive some paperwork in the mail.  So the whole process takes about two to three weeks.

John:    Two to three weeks?

Will:    Yes.

John:    And I guess they expedite that process if the tree is a hazard or if there’s some sort of danger?

Will:    If your tree is an imminent danger to your property an arborist can come out and make the call and will take a few photos or videos of the tree as evidence.

John:    Okay, so an arborist can actually work with you and the council together to help you through the process?

Will:    Yep.

John:    Okay, so…

Will:    And…

John:    Well, I always get sort of a bit lost with – I mean, the tree came down across the road, remember I was telling you about that?  And it took out the power line.

Will:    Yep.

John:    We didn’t lose power but, yeah, that tree came crashing down and my housemate came down and said, you know, there’s live wires on the road.  And you know, people were still trying to drive through there, can you believe that?

Will:    Yeah, yeah.

John:    We were out in the street stopping people, wait stop!  They’re like what’s – can I just…  Can I just…  One guy actually pulled up and he said, can I just drive across that?  I said, hey, do whatever you want.  I said but if you prefer to live perhaps going under the wires on the left-hand side near the pole.

Will:    Yeah.

John:    But, yeah, that tree – the guys came from (SEQ), no…

Will:    SES.

John:    SES, yeah.  SES came out and the power place, what’s the…

Will:    Ausgrid

John:    Ausgrid came out, yeah and they sorted out the power line.  That was all sorted out in about three hours and the tree was still down and then there was a crew that rocked up about a week later, I think, I had expected – I thought you guys might have been on it but there was a crew that rocked up.

Anyway they chopped it up and then they threw it in one of those big, what are those…

Will:    Mulches.

John:    Mulches, yeah, but that was a massive branch that came.

Will:    It was a large section of the tree and…

John:    Did you see that?

Will:    Yeah, it was hanging there.

John:    Yeah, it was a big…

Will:    The thing that gets me is that the recent storms we had every tree that I saw, I saw about 20 or more trees, all the failure points are from defective trees, defective branches or trees with problems.

John:    What do you mean by defective branches, is that from someone messing with them or is that just from like disease or…

Will:    Yeah, and disease gets into a tree when you’ve lopped it or messed with it.

John:    Okay.

Will:    And that’s why they kind of…  Lopping trees or trees with just natural structural defects in them like splits in the forks, big heavy branches.  All of that can be prevented by an annual inspection from your local arborist.

John:    Yeah, I know people probably don’t think about getting an arborist out.  I mean, I didn’t even know what an arborist was, you know, until we started working together and I found myself saying, hey, do you see that guy over there, that guys an arborist.  I felt special because I felt somewhat educated.  Before I was like, oh, check out old mate up the tree there with a chainsaw.

But what was my point?  I can’t remember what my point was.

Will:    Broken branch across the road.

John:    Yeah.  We were talking about defects.  Defects…  I said to you just when you first arrived, I mean, driving around looking at trees now thinking, oh, that ones, you know, not looking too good.

Will:    Yeah.

John:    But, yeah.  That’s what I was going to say.  I was going to say you don’t think about calling an arborist until it’s too late, you know.

Will:    That’s like, you know…

John:    I’ve got a 3 Series BMW outside with a 600 kilogram trunk just smashed across the whole front of it, I’m like, I’ve got to call someone, bit late now.

Will:    Yeah, too late now.

John:    Yeah.

Will:    Like you don’t get a mechanic until your brakes are failing.

John:    That’s right and you’re in a ditch.  I’ve got to call someone.  This is getting pretty serious.  Okay, well that’s probably enough for our first chat.  How can people find out more about what it is that you do?  I guess that’s probably a silly thing to ask.

Will:    Give us a call or jump online and check out our Web site; treeandgarden, tree and, A-N-D garden.com.au.

John:    And we’ll just – Will, just to wrap it up, just give us which areas you cover and what services you offer?

Will:    Okay, we cover the Gosford and Wyong Shire councils in the Central Coast of New South Wales.  We cover all the suburbs.  We provide…

John:    Actually I’ve got a list here of the suburbs, it’s huge.  You cover a massive area!

Will:    Yeah, the whole area is about 60 square kilometers.

John:    Yeah, I was really surprised with how far you guys actually go and you do cover areas of Sydney as well.  You’ve got Avoca Beach, Bateua, I can’t pronounce some of these.

Will:    Yeah, Bateua Bay, Bensville, Erina, Terrigal, Gosford, Wyong.

John:    Killcare.

Will:    Killcare.


Will:    Yep.

John:    You cover a pretty big area.

Will:    Yeah.

John:    A 60 kilometer diameter.  Where are you based?

Will:    We’re based at Wamberal.

John:    Wamberal, okay.  And you do areas of Sydney as well?

Will:    Yeah, in Northern Sydney, Berowra.

John:    Okay.

Will:    Thornleigh, Wahroonga.

John:    They’re all – that’s Northern Sydney?

Will:    Northern, yeah in Sydney.

John:    And the services that you guys provide, I know you obviously do tree removal?

Will:    Yep, tree pruning, provide tree assessments, tree inspections.

John:    Okay, and what about just general gardening like if I wanted you guys to come around and just take, you know, do my laws and edges.  Do you do that kind of stuff or…

Will:    Lawns aren’t really for us.  We like things that grow higher than knee-high.

John:    You haven’t seen my backyard!

Will:    So yeah, but hedges, hedge trimming and anything upwards from there.

John:    Right, so you do stump removals as well?

Will:    Stump, yeah stump removals.

John:    I just want to ask quickly.  I saw a video on your Web site and it didn’t look like they were actually removing the stump it looked like they were just sort of grinding it level with the ground.  Is that – like what’s the…  I know you’ve got stump grinding and stump removal.  The stump removal you actually dig the whole thing out?

Will:    Stump removal will be an excavated digging it out but stump grinding will actually grind the whole stump out as well.

John:    Okay, is (that safe)?

Will:    It turns it into mulch.

John:    And what happens then, you just cover the top with dirt?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    So will the roots and everything stay there?

Will:    Yeah, the roots are still there but they die off.  They’re usually under the ground anyway.

John:    And that’s not an issue for say termites?

Will:    Not really.  If you…

John:    It is or it isn’t Will?

Will:    Well, I mean, sure it could be but…

John:    So the better option is to have it removed?

Will:    No, because when you’re – if you’re an excavator and you did the stump out they only dig the main head of the stump out anyway.  They still leave radial roots because radial roots extend for the drip line of the tree, many meters.

John:    Yeah, yeah.

Will:    So you’re never going to get it all out anyway.

John:    Okay.

Will:    It’s certainly going to reduce the – the food source for termites.

John:    Right, and I guess if you’ve got a tree or a stump right beside your home you can’t go digging down under the slab so I guess that makes sense.

Will:    Yeah.

John:    So, sorry.  You do full tree removal and large trees too?

Will:    Yes large trees.

John:    What’s the biggest tree that you’ve ever taken out?

Will:    Probably a 60 meter tree.

John:    Sixty meters?

Will:    Yes.

John:    That’s massive.

Will:    (Mid North) Coast in New South Wales.

John:    Wow!  So tree removal, tree pruning, hedging, trimming, you guys do mulching.

Will:    Mulching…

John:    And stump grinding and stump removal, yeah?

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Is that everything?  What have we missed?  I feel like I’ve missed something.

Will:    We do a few extra little things like install bird and wildlife boxes in trees.

John:    Ah yeah, I saw that.  Yeah, I saw that.

Will:    Yeah, we’re working with some, what’s the word?  For your…  Ecologists.  Another word that I was thinking of, yeah, a few ecologists installing possum boxes and bird boxes for wildlife.

John:    Yeah, I used to see – there was a lot of those when I still lived up in Brisbane you used to see the boxes up in trees and I’d think, who does that like…

Will:    Right.

John:    But there are actual possums living in them?  Pretty cozy, nice view too out over the water.

Will:    Yeah.

John:    Okay, so that’s probably it for today Will.  Thanks so much for your chat and of course if anyone is interested in working with Will, Tree and Garden, give him a call I’m sure he would be happy to help you out.  Isn’t that right?

Will:    Yeah, definitely! Just call me on 0402418017 or visit our website at www.treeandgarden.com.au

John:    All right.

Will:    Thanks John!

John:    Thanks Will, see you mate.

Will:    See ya!