If you’re looking to plant trees or shrubs on your property, there are a few things you need to consider to ensure they thrive and don’t damage any sewer pipes underground.

What kind of waterwise trees can I plant?

Depending on where you’re planting, not all trees and shrubs are suitable for your verge or garden. Use our handy waterwise tree lists below, to select the right trees or shrubs that will suit your area and the amount of maintenance you’re prepared to undertake. For example, deciduous trees require more work to collect leaves when they fall to keep them out of stormwater drains.

Once established, waterwise trees only need to be watered once or twice a week and have a low to moderate risk of root invasiveness to below ground assets, such as sewer pipes. Many of these trees will flourish over the summer months with minimal watering.

Where can I plant waterwise trees?

Ensuring you choose the right tree for its location, will prevent tree roots from getting in the way and causing problems. Our waterwise tree list includes trees and shrubs suitable for verges and urban gardens.

The verge is the area between the edge of the road and the boundary of a property. Vital services and public infrastructure (such as water, electrical, gas and telecommunication pipes) may be located within a verge, or at the back of a private property. Please be cautious when planting trees, as you may be liable for any damage to underground assets.

Prior to planting any tree on your property you must contact Dial Before You Dig to check the location of assets to ensure they won't be damaged or interfered with.

To protect these assets, all verge trees must be planted (as stated in the Utilities Providers Code of Practice Guide):

  • 2.7 metres from the property boundary line and
  • a minimum of 0.5 meters from water assets (such as pipes)

Clearances for planting verge trees

What happens if I don't select the right tree?

Trees and shrubs are an important part of our built environment, however if they’re not carefully chosen, they may cause problems below ground.

The roots of some trees and shrubs can damage sewer pipes and underground services. Trees and shrubs rely on their roots to find moisture and nutrients. Your property’s sewer pipes can be an attractive moisture source.

A small hairline fracture in a pipe is all a root needs to get in. Once inside the pipe the root can grow quickly, causing a reduction in flow and potentially a complete blockage. Often complete sections of pipe need to be replaced which can be expensive. Homes over 15 years old are particularly at risk as they are less likely to have PVC sewerage pipes, which aren’t as prone to leakage and tree root damage.

Waterwise tree lists

The following lists are intended as a guide to assist you with selecting the right trees or shrubs for your verge or garden. Each tree has been scored on its water rating and level of root invasiveness by specialist tree consultants. 

Water rating

  • 1 drop – once established requires watering once a week
  • 2 drop – once established requires watering twice a week

Root invasiveness

  • Low - the species doesn’t display vigorous root development and is not commonly associated with damage to pipes.
  • Moderate - the species may cause some damage to pipes. Tree species are more likely to originate in more temperate climates than the Perth region, and have a higher requirement for water.
  • High - these species have vigorous root development. Trees within this category are generally not recommended for planting near pipes and may be included within a list of trees considered unsuitable for verge or urban garden planting.

Trees and shrubs suitable for planting on verges and urban gardens  
Tree size Waterwise drop rating  Root invasiveness Common name  Botanical name Origin  
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Bell Fruited Mallee Eucalyptus preissiana WA native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Bull Banksia Banksia grandis
WA native
Small (4-8m) 2 Low Chinese Pistachio Pistacia chinensis Exotic
Small (4-8m) Moderate Chinese Tallow Triadica sebifera Exotic
Small (4-8m) 2 Moderate Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia Aust. native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Coastal Moort Eucalyptus utilis WA native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Coral Gum Eucalyptus torquata WA native
Small (4-8m) 2 Moderate Cottonwood Hibiscus Hibiscus tileaceus Aust. native 
Small (4-8m) 2 Moderate Dawson River Weeper Callistemon ‘Dawson River’ Aust. native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low  Dwarf Yellow Bloodwood Corymbia eximia 'Nana' Aust. native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Euky Dwarf Eucalyptus leucoxylon sub species 'Euky Dwarf Aust. native
Small (4-8m) 2 Low   Evergreen Ash Fraxinus griffithii Exotic
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Firewood Banksia Banksia menziesii WA native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low  Fremantle Mallee   Eucalyptus foecunda  WA native 
Small (4-8m)  1 Low Fuchsia Mallee Eucalyptus forrestiana  WA native
Small (4-8m)  2 Low  Golden Shower tree Cassia fistula  Exotic 
Small (4-8m) 1 Low Holly Leaved Banksia   Banksia ilicifolia   WA native
Small (4-8m)  1 Low  Hybrid Coral Gum  Eucalyptus 'Torwood' WA native 
Small (4-8m)  2 Moderate  Kings Park Special  Callistemon ‘Kings Park Special’   WA native 
Small (4-8m)  1 Low  Large Fruited Mallee Eucalyptus youngiana WA native
Small (4-8m)  2 Low  Manchurian Pear Pyrus ussuriensis   Exotic
Small (4-8m)  1 Low   Mottlecah Eucalyptus macrocarpa WA native
Small (4-8m)  2 Moderate  NZ Christmas Bush  Metrosideros thomasii Exotic 
Small (4-8m)  1 Moderate Olive Olea europa Exotic 
Small (4-8m)  1 Low Orange Banksia Banksia prionotes WA native 
Small (4-8m)  2 Low  Ornamental Pears Pyrus calleryana varieties Exotic 
Small (4-8m)  2 Low Ornamental Plum  Prunus blireana varieties Exotic
Small (4-8m) Low  Pin-Cushion Hakea  Hakea laurina WA native
Small (4-8m)  2 Low Purple Leafed Ornamental Plum Prunus cerasifera varieties Exotic
Small (4-8m)  1 Low   Red Flowered Mallee Eucalyptus erythronema WA native 
Small (4-8m)  1 Low  Redheart Moit Eucalyptus decipiens WA native 
Small (4-8m)  1 Low   River Yate  Eucalyptus macrandra WA native
Small (4-8m)  1 Low SA Yellow Gum  Eucalyptus leucoxylon sub species megalocarpa Aust. native
Small (4-8m)  1 Low   Silver Mallee Eucalyptus crucis WA native
Small (4-8m)  2 Moderate  Snow-in-Summer Melaleuca linariifolia Aust. native
Small (4-8m)  1 Low  Strickland's Gum Eucalyptus stricklandii WA native
Small (4-8m)  2   Low  Swamp Banksia Banksia littoralis WA native
Small (4-8m)  Moderate Swamp Paperbark  Melaleuca rhaphiophylla WA native
Small (4-8m)  1   Low Tallerack Eucalyptus pleurocarpa WA native
Small (4-8m)  2 Moderate Water Gum Tristaniopsis laurina Aust. native 
Small (4-8m)  Low Webster's Mallee Eucalyptus websteriana WA native
Small (4-8m) 1 Low  Western Coolabah Eucalyptus victrix WA native
Small (4-8m) 2 Moderate  Western Tea Myrtle Melaleuca nesophila WA native
Medium (8-16m) 1 Low  Argyle Apple  Eucalyptus cinerea Aust. native
Medium (8-16m) 1   ow Bald Island Marlock Eucalyptus conferruminata  WA native
Medium (8-16m) 2  Low  Butterfly Tree / Orchid tree Bauhinia sp. Exotic
Medium (8-16m) 1   Low Carob Ceratonia siliqua Exotic
Medium (8-16m) 1  Low  Coastal Blackbutt Eucalyptus todtiana WA native
Medium (8-16m)   Low Darling Range Ghost Gum Eucalyptus laeliae WA native
Medium (8-16m) 2  Moderate Irish Strawberry tree Arbutus unedo Exotic
Medium (8-16m) 2  Moderate  Jacaranda Jacaranda mimosifolia  Exotic
Medium (8-16m) 2  Moderate Japanese Elm Zelkova serrata 'Green Vase' Exotic 
Medium (8-16m)  Low Kurrajong  Brachychiton populneus Aust. native 
Medium (8-16m) 1  Low  Lacebark Kurrajong Brachychiton discolour Aust. native 
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate  Macadamia Macadamia integrifolia Exotic
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate NZ Christmas tree Metrosideros excelsa Exotic
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate  Oriental Pane tree Platanus orientalis Exotic 
Medium (8-16m) 1 Low  Port Lincoln Gum Eucalyptus lansdowneana Aust. native
Medium (8-16m) 2 Low Red Flowering Broadleaved Paperbark Melaleuca viridiflora Aust. native
Medium (8-16m) 1 Low  Red Flowering Gum Corymbia ficifolia WA native 
Medium (8-16m) 1  Low Rottnest Island Cypress Callitris preissii WA native
Medium (8-16m) 1 Moderate Rottnest Island Tea-Tree Melaleuca lanceolata  WA native
Medium (8-16m) 2 Low Rough Barked Apple Gum Angophora floribunda Aust. native
Medium (8-16m) 1 Low  Salmon White Gum Eucalyptus lane-poolei   WA native
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate  Saltwater Paperbark Melaleuca cuticularis WA native
Medium (8-16m) 1 Moderate Stout Paperbark Melaleuca preissiana WA native
Medium (8-16m) Moderate  Swamp Mallet Eucalyptus spathulata WA native
Medium (8-16m) Moderate Swamp Sheoak Casuarina obesa WA  native
Medium (8-16m) 1 Moderate  Tuckeroo Cupaniopsis anacardioides Aust. native 
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate Weeping bottlebrush Callistemon viminallis Aust. native
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate  Weeping Broadleaved Paperbark Melaleuca leucadendra WA native
Medium (8-16m)  1 Moderate  Wild Plum/ Kaffir Plum Harpephyllum caffrum Exotic 
Medium (8-16m)  1 Moderate   Wilga/ Australian Willow Geijera parviflora WA native
Medium (8-16m)  1 Moderate  Willow Bottlebrush Callistemon salignus Aust. native 
Medium (8-16m)  1 Moderate  Yellow Gum  Eucalyptus leucoxylon 'Rosea' Aust. native 

Trees and shrubs suitable for planting on large properties and in public open space  
Tree size Water drop rating Root invasiveness  Common name Botanical name   Origin
Medium (8-16m) 1 Moderate Dwarf Sugar Gum Eucalyptus cladocalyx ‘Nana’ Aust. native
Medium (8-16m) 2 Moderate Poinciana (Royal) Delonix regia Exotic
Large (16m+) Moderate Blackbutt  Eucalyptus patens  WA native
Large (16m+) Moderate IIlawarra Plum Podocarpus elatus Aust. native
Large (16m+) Moderate Iron Bark Eucalyptus sideroxylon   Aust. native
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Jarrah Eucalyptus marginata WA native 
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Marri Corymbia calophylla   WA native
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Pepper Corn tree Schinus molle Exotic
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Power-bark Wandoo  Eucalyptus accedens WA native 
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Red Box Eucalyptus polyanthemos  Aust. native 
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Sydney Red Gum Angophora costata  Aust. native 
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate Tuart Eucalyptus gomphocephala WA native
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate WA Weeping Peppermint Agonis flexuosa WA  native 
Large (16m+) Moderate  Wandoo Eucalyptus wandoo   WA native 
Large (16m+) 1 Moderate  Yellow Bloodwood Corymbia eximia Aust. native 

A list of trees that are not suggested for urban gardens.
Common Name Botanical name
 American Sweetgum  Liquidambar styraciflua
 Box Elder  Acer negundo
 Broadleaved Paperbark  Melaleuca quinquenervia
 Cook Pine  Araucaria columnaris
 Coral tree  Erythrina x sykesii
 Cypress Pine  Cupressus species
 Gleditsia  Gleditsia triacanthos
 Lemon-scented Gum  Corymbia citriodora
 London Plane tree  Platanus x acerifolius
 Moreton Bay Fig  Ficus macrophylla
 Norfolk Island Hibiscus  Lagunaria patersonia
 Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophylla
 Northern River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. obtusa 
 Port Jackson fig Ficus rubiginosa
 Queensland Box  Lophostemon confertus
 River Sheoak  Casuarina cunninghamiana
 Robinia  Robinia pseudoacacia
 Rosewood  Tipuana tipu
 Rubber tree  Ficus elastica
 Small Leaf tree  Ficus microcarpa
 Spotted Gum  Corymbia maculata

Advice for local governments

Verges serve as a corridor for utilities with a number of water, electrical, gas and telecommunication pipes located underground within them. All trees must be planted in accordance with the Utilities Providers Code of Practice Guide, which states that trees must be planted 2.7m from the property boundary line and minimum of 0.5m from water assets.

For local governments planting medium and large street trees, please contact us regarding to your annual tree planting plans to ensure the longevity of the tree and to minimise the possibility of interruption to local residents’ water supplies. Any damage to, or interference with, a Water Corporation underground asset may result in Water Corporation imposing fines or seeking damages for any repair.

Download our Selecting the Right Tree information sheet.