Tree work: frequently asked questions

A tree is overhanging my property. Can I cut it back?

Only cut it back to the boundary line and no further. Do not trespass on their property. Offer cuttings back to the owner. If they don't want them, it is your responsibility to dispose of them. Ensure that any pruning you do doesn't result in the tree becoming unsafe. Before any work is undertaken, ensure that the tree is not covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or is in a Conservation Area. These rules also apply if a council tree is overhanging your property. Residents may prune branches back to their boundaries only. Please note that if you choose to prune back a tree that is not on your property, it is your responsibility to dispose of the green waste.

There is a council owned tree blocking out sunlight. Can it be pruned or removed?

Unfortunately, residents have no legal right to light blocked by trees. However, the Council will inspect some trees causing this. The Council inspects its trees regularly to ensure that they are maintained safely. Tree works are not carried out solely to alleviate light restriction or overhang. Seasonal inconveniences like shade, leaf fall and sticky honeydew do not justify felling a tree. We must also consider the amenity value that would be lost and the expense of the works.

There is a tree dropping fruit/seeds/leaves on my property. Can I have the tree pruned or removed?

We do not remove or prune trees for this reason. These are seasonal problems that pruning will not solve. However, if the problem occurs on a public highway you can report the problem to us.

Can I appeal against the Council's decision if my application to carry out tree work is refused?

If the tree is council owned and after assessment, we decide the work is not appropriate then you will be notified in writing. We will have assessed your application against the list of what the Council is or is not willing to do. However under certain circumstances you are entitled to arrange for work to be carried out by a private tree surgeon.

Will trees cause damage to my drains?

It is very rare for trees to block up or cause damage to drains. Roots may occasionally block drains, but in order for the roots to gain access the drain must already be damaged. If you suspect that a drain has been broken or blocked, please contact us.

A tree has fungus growing on it. Does this make the tree unsafe?

Not necessarily. There are many types of fungi that live happily on trees. However, if the fungal growth is close to the base of the tree or from the stem or branches, this may suggest wood decay. Removing fungal fruiting bodies from trees will not get rid of the fungus since by this stage it is well established. If you believe that a tree on council owned land is diseased that it is unsafe, please report this to us. If the tree is on your own property and you are unsure if its condition is making it unsafe, you are advised to contact a tree surgeon for a professional opinion.

There is a tree outside my property that is tall and moving in the wind. Is it dangerous?

Tall trees are not necessarily dangerous. Healthy trees produce enough wood to remain upright. The action of swaying, allows the tree to withstand normal weather conditions, and even strong winds. If the tree is on council land and you believe it to be dangerous please report it to us.

There are tree roots in my garden and they are growing under my house. Are they going to damage it?

Surface roots appear in gardens. With care, you may treat them in a similar way as overhanging branches, by cutting them back to your boundary line. However, since tree roots are the anchorage system of a tree, great care must be taken not to remove large roots which will cause the tree to become unstable. We recommend that you do not remove any roots within a 2m radius of the tree, and ensure that nothing is removed that is over 5cm in diameter.

There are tree roots affecting the footway. Can the Council fix it?

Please contact us and request a Roads Inspector to check the site. If the inspector feels that further guidance is required for root cutting then arboricultural staff will inspect it.

My neighbour is cutting down/pruning a tree in his garden. Have they got permission?

If the tree is not covered by a TPO and is not in a conservation area, then no permission is required unless the tree is on a joint boundary or the workmen require access to adjoining property to carry out the job, then the permission of the other party is required with respect to civil law.

Contact details

In the first instance, please contact us on 03000 200 292.

Environmental Services
Business Hub 11 - Level 2 West
Marischal College
Broad Street
AB10 1AB

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