Thread: Street trees in your community

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    Street trees in your community

    I know this has been done before, but it's always a good perennial topic.

    Prior to the mid 1980s, nearly all street trees in my community were American elm. The streets were well shaded with a fine closed canopy. We didn't get hit with DED until quite late and it hasn't spread nearly as much as elsewhere because northern MN is host only to the native elm bark beetle. The European EBB only occurs in the southern 1/3 of the state.

    Still, probably about 1/3 of the street trees along the residential streets are American Elm. Each year, the city loses a number of the trees to DED but many nice specimens are still around. Eventually, they will all get it.

    The city, like so many locales, replaced the dead elms mostly with Green Ash during the 1980s and 1990s. When sidewalks were widened and tree wells put in downtown in the late 1980s, they planted only Green Ash and Little Leaf Linden.

    I find both trees to be over planted and ill suited to the tiny tree wells afforded them... especially the linden, which grows very slowly due to constant drought stress in late summer.

    Along residential streets in recent years, the city has begun planting Bur oak, northern red oak, and red and sugar maple. There are even some American Mountain Ash, though these make poor street trees as they are quite small.

    They rebuilt the main road that drives on the isthmus between the two lakes the city sits on (the MIssissippi divides the isthmus). The main road used to hug the Lake Bemidji shoreline with an undivided 4 lane road while the "old" road was a regular two lane wide street that went more down the middle of the isthmus. Over the years, the businesses were gradually replaced and their storefronts faced the Lake Bemidji side.

    Beginning in 2002, they reconstructed the 1960s era eyesore of a bridge of the Mississippi with a very quaint bridge with a pedestrian crossing and nice stone accents and unique lighting. The road then split with "south"bound (actually flowing east) traffic merging over to the "old" road. The "north"bound traffic stayed on the Lake Bemidji side on a narrower 2 lane one way road with turning lanes. This allowed a larger buffer along the lake shore there. The old 1913 bridge carrying the old road was closed to traffic and is now a pedestrian/bike crossing and a paved bike trail was established on that side. Another paved trail was constructed between Lake Bemidji and the roadway.

    The entire lakeshore was reinforced with rocks to prevent erosion and then planted with native grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers. Trees were also planted along.

    In the "islands" where the road now splits, areas were landscaped and perennial flowers and grasses were planted. Also, many trees were planted.

    Bur oak, basswood, and disease resistant American elm were planted on one end while on the eastern end of the road, white spruce, basswood, bur oak, and tamarack were planted.

    The city has been working with the local SWCD to try and diversify its plantings in order to maintain a healthy urban "forest" should one species come under attack.

    In the parks, white spruce, red, and white pine are commonly planted along with various species of deciduous.

    Unfortunately with our northern latitude and cold, forbidding winters, there aren't a lot of options for good street trees. With elms under constant attack and Ash now in danger of emerald ash borer, the options are becoming limited.. which is likely why they're planting the slow growing bur oak. They're hardy, well suited for a white oak for urban conditions, and have relatively few lethal threats. (And the critters love 'em)

    Another note: The Minnesota DNR is planning to release 3 non-native species of stingless wasps that have shown real promise in greatly reducing and potentially even stopping the spread of EAB. EAB was discovered in St. Paul and Minneapolis last summer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    cottageville, south carolina

    RE: Street trees in your community

    the majority of trees planted around here are bald cypress, redbud, red maple, crepe myrtle, live oak, southern magnolia. i have seen some sycamores planted a few years ago that did not survive and see some older ones in neighborhoods that are dying off.
    peace to all

  3. #3

    RE: Street trees in your community

    In NC I'm seeing a lot of Ornamental Cherry trees, Japanese Zelcovas, and Chinese Elms, which must be the most boring ornamental tree except for the bark. (Gotta love the dully colored tiny leaves that get in every crevice of your car in the fall.)

    Last year there was a bit of a bruhaha over the revitalization of downtown Raleigh when they planted Overcup Oaks along the newly-reopened Fayetteville Street. Those things are going to get huge and will drop some serious acorns as time goes by.

    Although, Raleigh is the City of the Oaks so maybe it's appropriate.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Waterbury, CT

    RE: Street trees in your community

    My town seems to be addicted to Maples and Ginkos. I wish I could see something more Sycamores. There is a corner park that has NOTHING BUT Sycamores, about 28 trees in all, and it looks awesome.
    Cool place to visit...Treeblog
    My site!!

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    RE: Street trees in your community

    I'm involved with street tree planting projects in my community. I basically get to pick whatever I want to plant along the streets due to lack of participation or interest.

    At first you get overwhelmed by the possibilities then the reality sets in that you gotta find urban and super ultra drought and stress tolerant trees that don't get too big, don't grow too slow, don't make too big of a mess, aren't proven, don't look out of place, aren't already overused, aren't too expensive and they really isn't a whole lot to chose from.

    I won't plant the willow oak because we've already got a monoculture of those. But I'm starting to understand why.

    As much as I want to be creative, I gotta get it right the first time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Western NY, Zone 6

    RE: Street trees in your community

    Up here in WNY, Cleveland Select Pears seem to be the street tree of choice, they are planted all over the place - from streets to mall parking lots. They don't get too large, no seed mess, and they can tolerate some fairly extreme conditions, plus they flower out nicely during the early Spring. Only pests that seem to attack the Cleveland Pears are tiny little aphids, they are easily controlled and don't do much damage in the first place. The only thing I really like about these trees is that they don't fall apart nearly as easily as Bradford Pears during ice or wind storms.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    RE: Street trees in your community

    Can't plant those. Callery pear is invasive here not to mention the numerous other problems which I won't get into. But yeah, the pears are one of the only rapid growing medium sized trees with big time ornamental appeal. I 'm hoping that someone, somewhere is developing medium sized trees with those positive attributes without all the negatives.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Western NY, Zone 6

    RE: Street trees in your community

    Hmmm, I had thought the "Cleveland Select" cultivar of the Callery Pear was not capable of reproducing. Perhaps they are not as invasive or have successes reproducing in my area/zone, as I have yet to see one Callery Pear growing "wildly" in a field or in a forest, every one of them that I have seen was planted intentionally, most of which along streets or within landscaping in parking lots. Maybe they're not spreading because of the blacktop and concrete surrounding them. Norway maples, on the other hand, are definitely invading forests in the Northeast US.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    RE: Street trees in your community

    None of them were supposed to.
    What happened was they began hybridizing.


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    British Columbia, Canada

    RE: Street trees in your community

    Around here, street trees are usually green ashes, skyline honeylocusts, norway maples, lindens or crabapples. Parks have lots of variety. The older trees are mostly weeping willows, silver maples, or siberian elms. The newer ones range from american sweetgums to london plane trees.

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