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Scoular St resident Mandy Dreadon said council contractors had pruned too much of the trees lining both side of her street earlier this month.
She had lived in the street for a decade and each year contractors had "topped the trees nicely", maintaining a "pretty" appearance.
This year, hard pruning by the contractors had left some of the trees looking like "stumps".
"Now we are stuck looking at this - it’s terrible."
In past years, contractors had removed the "scruffy" foliage growing on the trunk, but it remains this year because it was the only leaves keeping the tree alive, Mrs Dreadon said.
She hoped the city’s trees were not the victim of a "cost-cutting exercise" as other streets were in a similar situation.
Council contractors had recently "cut right back" trees in Claremont St, Maori Hill, she said.
"If this is the beginning of the council cutting costs what is going to be its next move?"
She wanted the council to consult with residents before making any drastic decisions on the future of the trees.
"We are lucky to have a tree-lined street and we like that. ’
The street’s residents "would be pretty unhappy if this was the beginning of the end of our trees".
Council Parks and Recreation group manager Scott MacLean said the trees were pruned using a method known as pollarding.
The trees were cut back to its original, first pollard point, called a "knuckle", he said.
The height the trees had been pruned to would make them more efficient to manage in the future, he said.
The pollarding would lead to operational cost savings over time and ensure they did not encroach on overhead powerlines.
The trees would be more easily accessible — and less complicated to prune — especially when close to nearby electricity infrastructure.
The council intended to continue the annual pruning of the trees, and other trees across the city, he said.
"The priority being those trees underneath powerlines. Where possible, we will allow trees not at risk of interfering with electrical infrastructure to grow more naturally."