Tree removal after incorrect tree lopping on the Northern Beaches


northern beaches tree lopping

Tree Services Northern Beaches

By Northern Beaches arborist, Chris Allchin. 

I was recently called to remove a firewheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus) at a Fairlight property on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.  The base of the tree’s trunk and roots were lifting the deck and pushing over the footings. Due to the tree’s proximity to the property, we were able to remove it without Council approval.

The firewheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus) is an Australian rainforest tree that can grow up to 40 metres tall with a trunk up to 1.4 metres wide. Due to the striking bright red ornamental flowers, it’s a popular ornamental addition to many Northern Beaches gardens. In fact, the beautiful firewheel tree flowers were the subject of Australian artist Margaret Preston’s most recognised print, Wheelflower (circa 1929).

northern beaches tree lopping

Incorrect tree lopping in the past had created problems.

The firewheel tree at this Northern Beaches property had developed growth faults called codominant stem which could have made it dangerously unstable in the future. Additionally, incorrect pruning in the past (technically called ‘topping’) by an inexperienced tree lopper had further compromised the tree’s health.

Topping (or tree lopping) is a poor way to prune a tree.

Topping is a poor way of pruning trees and is against Northern Beaches Council tree regulations. Topping isn’t recommended because the regrowth (epicormic growth) will be weakly attached to the tree and, if left to grow large, will likely fall.

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches down to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role.  Topping trees is perhaps the most harmful tree practice known and yet, after 25 years of literature, it still remains common practice by unqualified tree loppers. Other common terms for ‘topping’ include tree lopping, heading, tipping or rounding-over.  All of which should be avoided at all costs for the tree’s health and the safety of everything around it.

Further reading: The importance of correctly pruning trees »

northern beaches tree lopping

It’s important to seek advice from an arborist.

This Fairlight tree highlights the importance of seeking the advice and services of a qualified arborist, like Chris, and not just employing a ‘tree lopper’ from social media to prune and trim trees at your property.

A codominant stem is where two or more branches of similar size and dominance emerge from a tree’s main trunk or a larger branch at the same height and angle. These branches compete for dominance and grow vertically without one overpowering the other. As a result, they develop a joint or shared leadership in the tree’s structure. This is evident in the before photo above.

While codominant stems can be found natural in some tree species, in various tree species and can occur naturally or as a result of poor pruning practices or tree damage. Over time, the union between codominant stems can weaken, making the tree susceptible to structural failure or splitting during storms or under heavy loads.

When codominant stems are present in a tree, it is important to evaluate their structural integrity and potential risks. Consulting an arborist or tree care professional is recommended to assess the tree’s condition and determine if any remedial actions, such as pruning or cabling, are necessary to mitigate potential hazards.


To discuss tree maintenance and tree removal requirements, contact Northern Beaches arborist, Chris Allchin, directly.

Chris is a qualified arborist and has undertaken 8 years of study in arboriculture, horticulture and landscaping.  Chris is passionate about the environment and is always happy to impart his expertise in plant care to his clients.

The team at Banksia Arborcare service Sydney’s Northern Beaches, North Shore and Northern Sydney areas 7 days a week.

arborist northern beaches

About Banksia Arborcare

All tree services Northern Beaches and North Shore Sydney.

Chris Allchin, owner of Banksia Arborcare, is a qualified arborist who has undertaken 8 years of study in arboriculture, horticulture and landscaping to gain a broad and varied understanding of tree and plant care.

Chris has decades of experience in a wide range of tree services, making Banksia Arborcare a trusted choice in providing expert, local landscaping advice and solutions.

Affordable and reliable tree services

Safe and reliable tree services.

The team at Banksia Arborcare use only the highest quality, most advanced equipment to ensure all our tree services are safe, reliable and completed on time. We always try to endeavour to educate the public on the significant positives of maintaining a green environment and as a result, we always perform our tree services with the environment in mind.

Arboriculture is a dangerous profession and Banksia Arborcare follow all Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines;

  • The Banksia Arborcare team wear protective clothing during emergency tree removal and use well-maintained equipment;
  • Removal of small and large trees, leaving the area neat and tidy. Banksia Arborcare can offer experience advice on the planting of new trees and they can supply and plant trees;
  • All pruning work complies with Australian Standard AS 4373;
  • Stump grinding – unattractive stumps can be turned into fine mulch and used in the garden;
  • They will discuss any problematic trees you may have and suggest an appropriate course of action.

Arborist reports.

Chris and the team at Banksia Arborcare are leading Northern Beaches arborists who have the necessary Level 5 qualification to prepare any arborist report.

Our arborists can often save problem trees.

Trees make our world a better place, but sometimes they can cause problems, and emergency tree removal becomes necessary. That’s why we recommend you employ an arborist to regularly inspect your trees to predict and, importantly, prevent serious tree problems from arising.

When you suspect a tree problem, whether it’s sick or dangerous, in most instances a tree be saved with just a few maintenance steps.


For advice on how you can maintain happy and healthy trees on your property and neighbourhood, don’t hesitate to contact Chris directly or scroll down to complete our online enquiry form. Chris is passionate about the trees and our environment and is always happy to impart his expertise in plant care to his clients.

The team at Banksia Arborcare services Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Upper North Shore, Lower North Shore and Northern Sydney areas 7 days a week.