Patsy Bell Hobson is busy transplanting little trees. In the fall, when the squirrels hide nuts in her garden, she is rewarded with many free trees in the spring.

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Street Trees are Money Trees
by Patsy Bell Hobson       #Finance   #Landscaping   #Trees

Neighborhood street trees increase property value, save energy and help with storm water retention. They also create shady, walkable sidewalks.

Street trees lend their shade, as well as a certain stateliness to a suburban block.
Photo courtesy of Mollie Ann Prasher.

Street trees are the trees planted between the street curb and the sidewalk. Planting street trees can help homeowners save money. These money-saving street trees can increase the value of a home and reduce the number of days a house remains on the market. Neighborhoods with street trees increase home values by an average of $8,870. [1]

Neighborhoods with shaded streets can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than neighborhoods without street trees. Street trees create a more walkable neighborhood. Established trees encourage residents to walk and be more active. Neighborhood street trees also increase property value, save energy and help with storm water retention. Trees along neighborhood streets provide an estimated $148 million annually in benefits. [1] So, choose carefully — a new tree is a lifetime investment. 

The Right Tree, Right Place

Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), sometimes called tupelo or black tupelo, has a tall straight trunk and scarlet fall foliage, which makes this tree a good street choice. Photo by Bob Hill, Hidden Hill Nurseries.

English oak (Quercus robur) is also known as the pedunculate oak or French oak, which illustrates the importance of including the Latin name in your tree and plant searches.
Photo courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company.

Pin oak (Quercus palustris) is an excellent and popular choice in the home landscape. But it is not a good choice for a street tree because of the downward-hanging lower branches.
Photo courtesy of Patsy Bell Hobson.

What are the best street trees to plant in your front yard? Choose trees that won't buckle the side walk, will provide shade for walkers and enhance the beauty of your home. Consider underground sewers, overhead utilities and long-term maintenance in your tree choice.

Often homeowners buy a tree and then try to force it to fit the location. A better approach is to evaluate the site and consider what type of tree suits that spot. Plan for the size of the mature tree.   

Also ask yourself some questions. Is the tree susceptible to storm damage? Will it produce a lot of seed or fruit? Does it have low-hanging branches that will interfere with sidewalk and street traffic? Anyone who has parked a car near a mulberry tree knows what a mess birds will leave on a car.

When choosing street trees, look for disease and insect resistance. Select trees able to withstand storm damage and tolerate hot, dry weather conditions. Look for species known to grow well in urban environments.

Also be sure to plan for the height of a mature tree. Trees taller than 60 feet are considered large trees. Medium height trees are 30 to 60 feet tall at maturity. Very few shade trees are under 30 feet tall. Tree species that mature over 30 feet in height should be planted at least 30 feet from overhead utilities.

If you are thinking about a tree under 30 feet, consider the spring flowering small trees. Redbud (Cercis spp.) and dogwood (Cornus spp.) are beautiful accents to any landscape.

One medium shade tree to consider is black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), which has other common names such as sourgum, black tupelo or swamp tupelo. This tree has outstanding fall color of red to yellow. It tolerates damp soil and dry soil. Newly planted trees require irrigation until well established but this tree will tolerate average dry conditions thereafter.

When looking for a large shade tree, consider the English oak (Quercus robur) of the white oak group that typically grows to 40 to 70 feet tall. This tree may take up to 25 to 30 years to bear a first crop of acorns. It is an underutilized street and shade tree.

The Right Tree, Wrong Place

Do the research about the growth habits of a tree. For example, a beautiful shade tree, the pin oak (Quercus palustris), is a good home landscape choice but a poor choice as a street tree. The upper branches of the pin oak grow upward. The middle branches grow horizontally. The lower branches droop down. If those lower branches are removed to allow traffic clearance, the horizontal branches will begin to droop downward.

Storm-Damaged Trees

For More Information about Trees

Trees Are Good

Arbor Day Foundation

For first aid advice for storm-damaged trees, call your local extension office. 

If you are dealing with a storm-damaged tree, remove the broken limbs or perhaps the entire tree if it is a danger to you or your home. Second, once the immediate danger is removed, take your time. Trees are hardier than we think. Give the tree some time to recover. If you can wait a year or so to decide the tree’s fate, the tree can begin to heal and may surprise you with its determination to grow.

If you decide to remove the tree, waiting a year gives you time to find a professional arborist. You avoid the frenzy of homeowners rushing to find tree care when there is a high demand at premium prices.

Do Not Top Them

A lot of homeowners decide to top their trees after a storm or tornado. Never top trees. Topping and poor pruning accelerates internal decay, weakens a tree and is unsightly.   

This poor practice can remove from 50 to 100 percent of the food-producing leaves. Removing the top of a tree can temporarily starve that tree. When a tree is topped, newly exposed bark that has never been exposed to direct sunlight is susceptible to sunscald.

Topping a tree will only speed up the decline of the tree.

Never do this to a tree. Topping is sometimes called “heading” or “rounding over. ”
Photo courtesy of Purdue University.


[1] “How Trees And Forests Benefit You” - Missouri Department of Conservation 


Posted: 02/04/13   RSS | Print


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wisegardner - 10/06/2016

Be sure to check with your local municipality before planting, most require a permit to plant in city right-of-way.

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