Why Cutting down Trees to Improve Your View Is Not a Good Idea

When looking for a new home to buy, you will quickly become familiar with the typical real estate jargon. In addition to the adjective rich descriptions of the home itself, real estate agents recognise that what you can see from the windows is also a unique selling point. If you're lucky enough to live in a property with what real estate agents generally call "stunning views," you'll want to enhance those views, and this can often involve removing pesky trees that might be in the way. But are you actually able to do this? Some city councils around Australia have found instances of residents secretly poisoning trees and shrubs in order to improve their views of the ocean. Naturally, this sort of behaviour is not permitted, and the perpetrators will be subject to hefty fines if caught. So while you can't simply poison trees, there are a number of things you can do to improve your view.

Trees on Private and Public Land

Just because a tree is on your property, it doesn't automatically mean you can remove it. It might have been deemed a significant tree by your local council, which is usually due to the age or size of the tree. And of course if you remove a tree on public land (such as the residents who poisoned trees on sand dunes to improve their ocean views), this can be viewed as criminal vandalism.

Erosion and Landslides

Trees on or close to sand dunes and riverbanks need to be kept in place to prevent erosion, and this can apply to trees on your property if you live next to the ocean or a waterway. If you live on a hill and the offending trees are not on public land, you still need to be wary about removal. Even if the tree (or trees) are not classed as significant, removal could destabilise the soil and lead to landslides.

Your Options

But it's not as though you need to live with obstructed views. There are a few things you can do if trees on your property are getting in the way of your panoramic outlook.

  • Height Reduction: Simply lopping the tops off the trees in question will do a lot. Again, you need to check with your local council first. If a tree is classed as significant, you will need to seek permission before you reduce its height. To make sure this is done properly and so trees don't become unhealthy or unbalanced, employ a tree service to do any lopping.
  • Tree Replacement: To keep the soil stable and prevent erosion, you can improve your view by removing a larger tree and replacing it with something smaller. The red cedar (toona ciliata) and blueberry ash (elaeocarpus reticulatus) are both fast growing trees that will quickly put down a deep root structure. While suited to most Australian climates, these trees will also begin to obstruct your views in the coming years. Pruning to keep the tree's height in check is easier if you begin when the tree is young.
  • Stunting Growth: A tree services company will be able to treat trees with a chemical growth retardant, typically made from paclobutrazol (PBZ). This PBZ solution is not harmful to humans or animals and is injected into the soil around the tree every six to twelve months, which dramatically slows the trees growth of new shoots. PBZ is most effective when applied after the tree has been pruned.

There's no reason why trees need to stop you from enjoying those amazing views… just so long as you're smart about it.