Getting street tree selection right
By Jennifer Stackhouse
According to recent research into what makes a suburb appealing, good street trees are one of the main differences between a good suburb with strong house prices and a less desirable place to live. Quite simply people equate green, leafy streets with prosperity and good living.
However, many of the gracious trees that line the streets in our most desirable suburbs would not be planted today. Trees such as poplars, elms and plane trees or jacarandas and poincianas in warmer climates, that were favoured by town planners of yesteryear, are now seen as too big and offering too many potential maintenance problems to be suitable to plant today.
Many of these trees are no longer selected for street planting and others are being removed and replaced with different species as they reach the end of their lifespans.
Elms for example, which survive in streets and parks in southern Australia, are seen as a ticking time bomb as these trees have been devastated by Dutch elm disease in most other parts of the world. So far, although we have the vector that spreads the disease (the elm leaf beetle), we don’t yet have the pathogen in Australia.
Even street trees widely planted in recent years are being reassessed for their long-term suitability. In more recent times the pyramidal shape of the Bradford pear saw it being widely planted city and suburban streets. While these now mature trees do look spectacular, especially in spring blossom and autumn leaf colour, they present maintenance problems as the variety chosen, although ornamental, does produce small fruits that form a slip hazard on pavements in summer and autumn. As well, its branches were often subject to wind damage and splitting.
Some factors that make large, spreading trees so problematic for use as street trees can be overcome with planning and careful management. Underground or bundled overhead wires and broad planting strips to accommodate the tree’s growing roots and water needs are necessary for safely growing and maintaining large, spreading street trees.
Where these demands can’t be met, those making street tree planting choices need to select tree varieties that can live in harmony with the street and its users with minimum maintenance.
Ideal street tree
The ideal street tree from a maintenance point of view is one that …continue reading