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tamias6

Street trees

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Over the last 10 years my home town as been lining some of its streets with trees. I'm curious as to what species of tree are best suited for urban uses such as in landscaping a building's plaza, or lining Main Street, USA.

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Here, Zelkova trees (similar look to Elm) are popular; as are River Birch, Crepe Myrtle, and Bradford Pear (won't planners learn that these Bradfords don't hold up well or last very long!!) For more showy situations mainly in Parks and Plazas, Cherry Trees and Japanese Maples.

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As long as they don't do those messy, stinky pear trees, you're fine... or are they cherry blossoms? I am not sure but they bloom in early spring and hold your nose. Then they drop their fruit and create a slippery mush mess.

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Ginko trees are very resistant to pollution.

Up here they usually line them maples of some kind, i believe.

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Ginko trees

Ginko%20Tree.jpg

Bradford pear trees (there are so many reasons I hate these things)

a_bradford.jpg

Japanese Cherry

Bothell-Cherry-Tree-In-Spri.gif

Norway Maple

norway2.jpg

red stem maple

acerRubrumMaxForPit.jpg

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Live Oaks are beautiful in Savannah. Red Chestnuts are great in some climates red_horse_chestnut.gif

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Norway maples are a bad choice. They get into the wild and choke out native plants.

Bur Oak is an underused species in urban use. While the tree grows at a pretty glacial pace (about 12"/year) it is highly tolerant of drought, salt spray, pollution, and soil compaction.. all things associated with street trees in American cities. They have relatively few pests, have a large, rounded crown, have very strong wood, and live a very long time (up to 400 years). They do have very large acorns, and this can be a problem with sidewalks, but large crops are produced only every 3-5 years.

American Elm: I know.. I know.. you're all saying "WHAT? What about Dutch Elms' Disease?"... well, there are many DED resistant American elm cultivars on the market, and let's face it.. American Elm is probably the best boulevard tree in the U.S. with a tall umbrella shape, few messes from fruit/flowers, and great fall color.. and relatively strong wood for its fast growth rate. The Elm has been pushed out of our psyche for a long time, but it's time to bring it back. All those elms that survived DED have led us to a stronger elm today.

Green Ash: Especially good for the midwest, where drought can be a problem. The trees are fast growers and tolerate city conditions well. Unfortunately, the Emerald Ash Borer is spreading through Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and 20 million trees have been killed. Still a good specimen outside of the quarantine areas.

American Linden (Basswood).. these trees have dense foliage and make excellent shade/street trees. They are not messy and have nice fall color, and their pollen makes great honey for your local honey bees! Unfortunately, they are not very drought tolerant... but damage isn't usually done except in extreme droughts.

Northern Red Oak: A good street tree because it tolerates city conditions and soil compaction, lives long, and grows relatively fast. These trees also have excellent fall color, turning almost burgundy and lasting longer than many other species.

Trees not suited for street planting:

White Oak: These are impressive trees.. but they are picky. They do not like city conditions and don't do well if the soil around its roots are disturbed.

American Beech: These trees like to have room and have a branching habit that allows growth down to the ground. While very long lived, they are very slow growing and do not tolerate pollution or salt well.

Sugar Maple: Hates salt/pollution

Silver Maple: A prolific seeder, it'll make abig mess on the sidewalk. Also, the roots will surface and can crack the sidewalk and nearby foundations.

Also, avoid planting nut/fruit trees as they make a big mess on the sidewalk.

Of course these selections are best for more northern parts of the country, but most of these species would do well to USDA zone 7 or 8.

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^A word of warning to those planting ginkgo trees: don't plant the female!! If you think the blossoms of the Bradford Pear stink, it can't hold a candle to the scent of the rotting fruit of the ginkgo. It is best described as a cross between vomit and Parmesan Cheese. They are beautiful trees, but this, along with the fact they grow at a snail's pace, is a reason to not use them as a street tree. The female variety lines Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd in uptown Charlotte, and although planted in 1970, still are rather short. As a side note, the smell of rotting ginkgo fruit is so bad, that my running group avoids MLK every fall.

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Another problem I would mention is some cities go out and plant just one species of tree. If you overwhelm an area with just one tree, you make the area more susceptible to disease. It's better to try to have a little bit of variety.

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Cities should really encourage diversity when it comes to trees. A lot of city planted elms along all their streets to see them die due to DED in the '60s and '70s.

In my cities, most street trees are of a few species: Basswood, Green Ash, American Elm, Sugar Maple, with a few bur and red oak mixed in. My county has had no reported cases of Dutch Elm's Disease, so most of hte elms here are still healthy and they are still planted.

Now people plant a much wider variety of trees in their yards, and spruce and pine are quite common. Also, the city plants mostly pine and oak in the city parks, since these trees tend to get quite large.

There's nothing more beautiful, in my opinion, then a park full of mature oaks and towering white pines.

Gunn%20Park.jpg

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Yeah my city has a lot of maples. But in part because someone went around planting a lot of maples back in the early to mid 1900's. There hasn't been too many problems yet. For quite a while all the newer trees being planted were all pear trees for their white springtime blossoms. But they city has been trying to get people to start planting other trees.

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