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  • Writer's pictureJulia Steele

To Prune or not to Prune

When looking for a Gold Coast tree lopper, it's best to find an arborist who can provide multiple options and avenues to manage your trees. Recently we had a client purchase a lovely Leopard Tree (Libidibia ferrea) with a house behind it in Burleigh Waters. Their building inspection report mentioned the potential harm in the future caused to the foundations and plumbing of the house due to invasive tree roots.

Trees can be an asset or a liability and in this case, the customer needed advice on how to proceed - to prune or to remove the tree.

The Leopard Tree in question with indicative lines for crown raising (tree pruning)

Option 1: Tree Pruning & Installing a Root Barrier

Firstly, the Leopard Tree was definitely eye-catching and improved the street appeal of the home. Leopard Trees have often been used for street trees and can be a lovely feature when planted in the right location. They respond very well to pruning and shaping and have a lovely, natural form. Pruning the tree would occur every 2 years approximately and be a lower upfront cost to the customer than tree removal. An overall reduction of the canopy was recommended (20%~30%) to contain the growth of the leopard tree.

In addition to tree pruning, we recommended the option to install a physical root barrier. This is where a trench is dug down to 600mm and installed. The concept has merits however a trees roots will grow wherever it finds nutrients - so root barriers are not a sure-thing solution. Also, sometimes the roots of the trees are damaged while digging the trench which may result in die-back. For more information on the science of root barriers and where to put them, see here.

Root barrier installation

Option 2: Leopard Tree Removal & Planting a Native Species

Firstly, Leopard Tree's are native to Brazil - not Burleigh Waters. Option 1 was explored and discussed with the customer however ultimately, the Leopard Tree doesn't belong in their front yard, let alone Australia! Leopard Trees enjoy a sub-tropical, wet climate like the Gold Coast and are very hardy in drought conditions. If a Gold Coast arborist does not prune to contain the size in the early years then Leopard Trees can grow up to 20 metres in height.

The final decision from the customer was to remove the tree and have the stump ground out. We recommended the customer plant a Grevillea 'Honey Gem' instead as they are also a beautiful ornamental tree, native to Queensland and only grow up to 6metres in height if not pruned and shaped by a Gold Coast arborist.

Grevillea "Honey Gem" was recommended as a native, ornamental tree

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