Trees, plants & wildlife

Trees and plants in our urban forest and countryside

Trees and plants play a key role in creating healthier individuals and communities. They yield a host of benefits such as:

  • improving air quality - flourishing urban forests convert carbon dioxide into life-giving oxygen and help filter daily pollution.
  • minimising the effects of soil erosion - by acting as ecological windbreaks and sieves, via their foliage and subterranean root systems. Urban forests help retain topsoil and protect waterways from silt and other contaminants well beyond their immediate reach.
  • offering sanctuary to birds, insects and wildlife, and providing them with a source of sustenance from flowers, tree bark, and edible seeds and fruits.

Trees and plants are highly valued in the Toowoomba Region as evidenced by our expansive and flourishing urban forest.

Following is a list of plants of various heights that are suitable for planting under and/or near powerlines.

Native plants up to 2 m in height

  • Dwarf Brisbane Wattle (Acacia fimbriata dwarf form)
  • Dwarf Willow Myrtle (Agonis flexuosa "Nana")
  • Dwarf Banksia (Banksia spinulosa x ericifolia dwarf form)
  • Bottlebrush (Callistemon pallidus "Candle Glow")
  • Spotted Emu Bush (Eremophila maculata)
  • Grevillea (Grevillea "John Evans")
  • Grevillea (Grevillea "Robyn Gordon")
  • Grevillea (Grevillea "Superb")
  • Peach Flowered Tea Tree (Leptospermum "Pink Cascade")
  • Melaleuca (Melaleuca thymifolia)
  • Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis "Rose Opal")
  • Beach Cherry (Eugenia reinwardtiana)
  • Emu Plant (Grewia retusifolia)
  • Lillypilly (Syzygium australe "Elegance")
  • Lillypilly (Syzygium australe "Tiny Trev")
  • Native Rosemary (Westringia "Wynyabbie Gem")

Native plants up to 3 m in height

  • Hairpin Banksia (Banksia spinulosa)
  • Bottlebrush "Reeve's Pink" (Callistemon "Reeve's Pink")
  • Sticky Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa)
  • Grevillea (Grevillea "Pink Surprise")
  • Lance-leafed Hovea (Hovea lanceolata)
  • Melaleuca (Melaleuca linarifolia "Claret Tops")

Native plants up to 4 m in height

  • Grevillea (Grevillea "Moonlight")
  • Wild May Tea Tree (Leptospermum polygalifolium)

Choosing where to plant

  • Consider the location of overhead and underground services, including the service line to your home. 
  • If your tree will grow to 5m, it should be planted 5m away from the power pole. If it will grow to 10m, it should be 10m away.
  • Call 'Dial Before You Dig' on 1100, or visit Dial Before you Dig, to request information on underground cables on, or near your property. 
  • Consider carefully which type of tree you should plant. Is it evergreen or deciduous? 
  • Will its roots, branches, sap, flowers, or fruits damage buildings, fences, footpaths, roads, foundations, or vehicle paintwork? 
  • Check the visibility from your driveway, intersection sight lines and access to your property. 
  • Consider pedestrian traffic, mail service and garbage truck access.
  • Check required clearance from street lights with your service provider.

How to plant a tree so that it thrives

  • Dig a hole 300mm from the edge of the root ball on the tree.
  • Loosen up the sides of the hole to promote root penetration.
  • Water crystals can aid in water retention.
  • Create a well around your tree with soil to help retain water and reduce water run off.
  • Place mulch to a depth of 150mm around the base of your tree, but away from the trunk to prevent rot. 
  • Thoroughly water each tree immediately after planting and as required. 
  • Once planted, water the tree regularly in dry weather (check under the mulch to see if the soil is dry). Even so-called drought-tolerant plants need to be watered regularly until their roots become established.
  • Native trees can be fertilised for much better growth. Use a fertiliser that is low in phosphorus, marked as 'P' on the label of the bag. To determine if your fertiliser is suitable, check the N:P:K (nitrogen–phosphorus–potassium) composition. Use one that contains less than 3% P; those with low P but high N and K are fine, e.g. 11:2:13.

Local tree expert and author Dr John Swarbrick collaborated with us in 2014 to produce 'Toowoomba's best trees' - an engaging, full colour publication celebrating a selection of the city's iconic trees. All of the trees mentioned within its pages are registered on the National Trust of Queensland's register of significant trees.

Copies of 'Toowoomba's' best trees are available for $5 each at Toowoomba Information Centre, 86 James Street and Toowoomba Regional Library, 155 Herries Street.

Here's an excerpt from the book.

EnglishOak LaurelBank 01 200sqThe English oak tree is in Laurel Bank, a park on Hill Street between West Street and Clifford Street. This section of Hill Street can only be entered from West Street whilst driving southwards or from Clifford Street whilst driving northwards. There is parking inside Laurel Bank and also on Hill Street.

The English oak is easily reached by taking the bluestone paved path below the car park; the English oak is the big tree at the end of the path surrounded by a gravelled Council vehicle park.

English oaks are common throughout the older parts of Toowoomba in parks and large gardens, and are still being planted in our city. This tree was planted about 1932 by Samuel Stephens, a local businessman who developed Laurel Bank as a public park and gave the park to the city. He was really interested in oaks, and Laurel Bank contains eight different species of oak trees including several tropical oaks and the Lithocarpus tree, a close relative of the oaks from South East Asia.

This tree is the biggest, the best, and probably the oldest English oak tree in Toowoomba. It is 17 metres tall and has a canopy spread of over 30 metres, and its diameter is 1.4 metres. Although it is a mature tree it is very healthy and still growing strongly. We do not know how large untrammelled English oak trees will grow in Toowoomba, but we shall probably find out in one or two hundred years' time!

English oak trees are long-lived and slow growing deciduous hardwoods from the woodlands and forests of lowland north-eastern Europe. The trees have thick trunks with fissured bark and strong horizontal wide-spreading branches, so that mature trees in open positions are usually broader than they are tall. The trees lose their leaves in winter, and fresh new leaves, male catkins and inconspicuous female flowers develop at the tips of the twigs in the spring. Pollination is by the wind, and the characteristic acorns develop in acorn cups over the summer and fall with the leaves in autumn.

Quercus is an old Roman name for the oak, and robur means strong. There are about 500 different species of oaks, mostly from northern temperate countries. About 50 species are found in warmer, wetter places in South East Asia (where they are called ring-cup oaks because they have rings instead of scales around their acorn cups), and some of these are real rainforest trees from Burma and Malaysia.

The wood of English oaks is dense, hard and strong, and the branches of English oaks tend to grow crooked. Both of these features made heart of oak the best available timber for ship-building in the days of sailing ships. The wood also has an attractive grain, so oak timber is widely used in furniture and panelling. Acorns are generally nutritious, and have been important throughout history for human and animal food. The bark of oak trees is rich in tannins (chemicals used in tanning leather), and oak trees were revered in pre-Christian times in north-eastern Europe as the abodes of the gods." (Swarbrick, J., (2014). Toowoomba's best trees, Toowoomba: Toowoomba Regional Council, pp. 54-56.) 


Helpful links

Monument Australia

National Register of Big Trees

National Trust Trees

Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2018 10:13
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