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Managing your garden

Trees and shrubs enhance our local environment by providing shade, privacy and amenity.

If your home has a garden, you are responsible for its basic maintenance. We also encourage you to add to your own garden. This fact sheet will help guide your selection of trees and shrubs to improve your garden, as well as minimise ongoing maintenance costs.

You should avoid some species as their root systems can damage building foundations, paths and sewer pipes or their trunks and limbs can damage roofs and other structures. As well as the costs of repairs to a damaged property, these trees and shrubs may be unsafe for residents and visitors. Failure to comply may result in tenant damage charges.

Gardens in common areas are for the enjoyment of all residents and are maintained by FACS. Tenants aren’t permitted to plant or remove trees or shrubs in the common areas, except in common areas approved for community gardens. See community greening for more information on community gardens in social housing.

What am I responsible for maintaining in my garden?

It’s your responsibility to look after the lawn and garden of your home which includes:

  • mowing lawns, watering, weeding and mulching garden beds
  • regularly trimming trees and shrubs that are less than 3 metres high to allow light into windows and let air circulate around buildings
  • providing a tray/saucer for pot plants on balconies, verandas and paved areas to protect the surface from water damage
  • clearing leaves from gutters in single story homes that are less than three metres high.

What can I plant in my garden and where can I plant it?

  • you can plant trees that will grow up to three metres high, but if you don’t know how tall a tree will grow it would be best not to plant it in your garden
  • trees or shrubs must be planted at least three metres from any buildings, paths, or fences
  • you can also plant vegetables, herbs and citrus or fruit trees - prune them regularly to keep them under 3 metres in height
  • if you build a garden bed or lay lawn, make sure it is more than one metre away from any buildings
  • raised garden beds must not be placed directly against structures such as buildings and fences as they can cause damage and prevent access for maintenance
  • you can install a worm farm or compost bin
  • don’t plant any tree or climber that has invasive roots or stems, is a noxious weed or has toxic leaves or sap.

See our list of suggested shrubs and climbers for different climate regions in NSW that are suitable to plant in your garden, as well as the trees and climbers that you are not permitted to plant.

When do I need permission from FACS?

If you wish to plant a tree or shrub in your garden for shade or privacy that will grow to a mature height of more than 3 metres, you must apply to FACS under the Alterations to a Home Policy. We will assess the type of tree and look at where you want to plant it to make sure it doesn’t cause maintenance issues in the future.

What will FACS maintain?

We will trim trees that are greater than 3 metres in height, if they pose a risk to existing structures or services and will maintain lawns and gardens in the common areas of unit and townhouse complexes.