Thread: Shopping Center Landscaping

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  1. #1

    Shopping Center Landscaping

    I am currently reviewing plans for a new Wal-Mart in the town that I work in and one thing we are considering is instead of requiring shade trees to be planted in individual landscaped islands in their parking area to instead require long landscape strips between the rows of parking. The reasoning for this is that we feel that the landscape strips will provide more shade for the parking lot and more root area hence a better living condition for the trees to be planted.

    Two questions:

    1) Do you agree with this reasoning regarding the notion that landscape strips provide more shade than individual landscape islands (spaced every ten parking spaces or so w/one shade tree)?

    2) How critical is it from a shading perspective to orient the strips in an east/west direction thereby providing a northern and southern exposure as opposed to allowing the landscape strips to be oriented in a north/south direction.

    I hope my questions make sense. thanks in advance for your responses.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
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    Oct 2004

    RE: Shopping Center Landscaping

    I don't know if this opinion is going to help you or not. These are just some observations regarding parking lots and what I as a wlamart shopper have found inconvenient.

    - Walmart parking lots that I have observed are situated so that the rows of parking spaces are perpendicular to the front of the store. And they have an large amount of handicapped spaces. What this means is a longer walk for most people. What I think would be a better design would be to have the rows of parking spaces parallel to the front of the store so that there are more parking spaces that are closer to the door.

    - The walmart parking lot is a zoo. There never seems to be enough parking spaces. Putting expansive green areas looks nice and does shade the cars but if you're bidding on the project, one thing they might find more important is providing more space for more cars and being able to use security cameras to monitor the parking lot and also light up the parking lot.

    Then again maybe not. I have seen some walmart parking lots that had large islands of preserved trees from the site. Every one of those walmarts were in a community that regulated landscaping or required a certain amount of conservation or native trees. Some had the long solid strips that you talked about.

    As a tree lover and convenience lover, my idea of the perfect parking lot has a wooded green belt around the store, a conservation easement in the front along the main street and some islands situated towards the rear of the parking lot. This will mask the presense of the walmart so that the people that threw a fit when they learned it was going in will feel better about it. It will help put back what was removed for construction and it will reward those who park way in the back with some shade. Also those walmarts are so high traffic, any kind of landscaping is going to get trampled on and it will require some pretty tough trees. I love trees but I do get annoyed when they are planted in parking lots that are not adequate. Would rather have to get into a hot car.

  3. #3

    RE: Shopping Center Landscaping

    Thanks for your reply and you make a lot of good points. What we are trying to do is put in long landscape strips to plant new trees and at the same time not substantially (if at all) reduce the amount of parking that Wal-Mart requires. We also are requiring a sizeable buffer at the perimeter of the site and along the adjacent roadway in order to preserve the existing trees.

    It is a delicate balance because we don't want the parking lot to look like a lot of these big boxes that have a sea of parking w/no relief anywhere. At the same time we don't want a parking/traffic circulation problem either. So we are trying to come up with the best balance of all of these issues. We also have architectural and drainage concerns but I will save those problems for a different forum.

    thanks again.

  4. #4

    RE: Shopping Center Landscaping

    I made a sketch of the shade area throughout the day for E/W and N/S:

  5. #5

    RE: Shopping Center Landscaping


    Thank you very much for the sketch that you drew up. It appears from your sketch that there would actually be more shade in situations where the landscape strips are oriented north/south than those oriented east/west. That would make sense to me but I am not sure if I am making incorrect assumptions about your sketch.

    Secondly, from a tree health standpoint if all other factors being equal i.e. soils, irrigation, installation etc. are multiple trees healthier in long landscape strips as opposed to a single trees in say a 400 square foot landscape island scattered around a parking lot?

    thanks again.

  6. #6

    RE: Shopping Center Landscaping

    Yes I would think that the north south strip would provide more cars with shade than the west east one. The sun in the afternoon during the summer is almost straight up but a little bit tilted to the south. The northern side of objects always gets less sun and stays cooler because we live in the northern hemisphere. The closer to winter means that the sun will be lower in the southern sky but as you get closer to summer the sun tracks higher and higher until it is almost straight up, then starts to go back down in the southern sky in the fall. This is the cycle the sun takes because the earth is tilted 23.45 degrees and goes around the sun.
    As you see this would be winter here in America:

    Because roots need oxygen, they don't normally grow in the compacted oxygen-poor soil under paved streets. The roots will grow very good along the inside of the strip but will have a little trouble growing around and under the pavement. The island I think might be better for the tree, but I would think if the strip is wide enough and not too narrow, the trees would do ok and grow good.

    Here is a pretty good site on parking lot trees:

  7. #7

    RE: Shopping Center Landscaping

    Thanks for all of your help. This is a great forum.

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