There’s nothing quite like turning down a street and finding yourself beneath a beautiful canopy of intertwined branches spreading overhead, while rows of tree trunks rise up on either side. These tree-lined streets can add charm to a suburban neighborhood or bring nature back to cement-filled city streets, not to mention their usefulness in separating houses and buildings from busy roads. Planting a tree along your street is a wonderful idea, but there are a few things to consider before you start digging.
How Will Your Tree Grow? Perhaps the most important decision to make when planting near a street or sidewalk is what species of tree you’ll choose. Before you select a tree based on how it looks, make sure you do a little research on its growth. Tree roots generally grow in one of two ways: shallow and horizontal, spreading out wide to catch rain dripping from the branches above, or deep and straight down, reaching deep into the earth to find water and nutrients. You’ll want to avoid the trees with shallow, horizontal roots, as they can lift and break apart sidewalks as they grow beneath them. Look instead for deep-rooted trees, like walnut, dogwood, and cherry trees, that will leave the street and sidewalk intact.
You also need to know about your tree’s height and spread once it reaches maturity. Trees that only grow up to 30 feet can be planted about three feet from a street or sidewalk and still have plenty of space to grow, while trees that grow above 30 feet need more like five feet of space, and trees over 50 feet tall need to be even farther from the street. And if your mature tree will have a wide spread, you’ll have to make its lower branches won’t hang over the street and create a safety hazard for passing cars.
How Will You Plant Your Tree? The instructions for planting your tree near the street are about the same as planting a tree anywhere. Just make sure that when you dig the hole, you remember what you learned about its future height and width, and choose a location accordingly. Once your tree is placed and its hole filled in, you might want to consider planting stakes to tether the tree to as well. These will provide some added stability as your tree grows and shield the young, vulnerable trunk from damage caused by carelessly opened car doors. Add water and an even layer of mulch, and you’re on your way to that stunning, tree-lined street!