In this article

  • What to consider before planting a verge tree
  • Types of trees suitable for verges and urban gardens
  • How to avoid damaging underground services when planting verge trees

Selecting a tree for your garden can be an exciting and daunting task.

For most, the first consideration is what type of tree will best suit your garden style. But when it comes to tree selection, it’s just as important to consider how your tree or shrub will look below ground.

Tree roots can creep into underground wastewater pipes and cause damage and even blockages. While falling leaves can block up stormwater drains. So when choosing a tree, here are a few things to consider to ensure they don’t cause issues at your property. 

Man selecting plants and trees at a garden centre

What waterwise trees can I plant?

Use our handy waterwise tree list below to understand which trees and shrubs will suit your property, and the amount of maintenance they require. There are a range of sizes, as well as both WA natives and exotic trees and shrubs to select from.

Waterwise trees tend to have non-invasive root systems which reduces the risk of damage to underground assets. For example, with deciduous trees, you will need to collect fallen leaves to keep them out of stormwater drains.

Our waterwise tree list also includes the amount of maintenance each tree requires. For example with deciduous trees, you will need to collect fallen leaves to keep them out of stormwater drains.

Once established, waterwise trees only need to be watered once or twice a week. Many of these trees will flourish over the summer months with minimal watering.

Young couple at a garden centre selecting plants and trees

Where can I plant waterwise trees?

Prior to planting a tree anywhere on your property, you must contact Dial Before You Dig to make sure underground pipes won’t be damaged or interfered with.

If you want a tree on your verge, be sure to contact your local council for the relevant guidelines. This is an essential step as vital public assets such as water, electrical, gas and telecommunication infrastructure are often located underneath a verge.

All verge trees must be planted at least 2.7 metres from the property boundary line and a minimum of 0.5 meters from water pipes.

 When planting a verge tree make sure to take note of the clearances.

What if I don't select the right tree?

Trees and shrubs are an important part of our built environment. But, if they’re not carefully chosen, they may cause avoidable damage to infrastructure.

Trees and shrubs rely on their roots to find moisture and nutrients. And your property’s wastewater pipes can be an attractive moisture source. All it takes is for the root to sneak into a crack in the pipe. Once inside the pipe, the root can grow quickly, causing a reduction in water flow or even a complete blockage. Often, complete sections of pipe need to be replaced which can be expensive.

Waterwise tree list

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

Water rating

  • 1 drop - requires watering once a week once established.
  • 2 drop - requires watering twice a week once established.

Root invasiveness

  • Low - the species doesn’t display vigorous root development and isn't 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. They may also 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 Low 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 Aust. native
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 government

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 government planting medium and large street trees, please contact us regarding your annual tree planting plans. We can help to ensure the longevity of the tree and minimise the possibility of interruption to local water supplies. Any damage or interference with a Water Corporation underground asset may result in a fine.

Download our Selecting the right tree information sheet.

Man smiling holding onto a tree branch