The Best Trees for Lining Streets

Written by marlene affeld
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The Best Trees for Lining Streets
Trees soften the landscape and add beauty to urban streets. (Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Trees that are selected to line city streets should have several qualities. They should be long-lived, hardy, disease-resistant, drought-tolerant and able to withstand strong winds. Trees used for city street planting should be low maintenance and not present a nuisance or hazard to pedestrians or motorists. They are exposed to air pollution from passing vehicles and highway de-icing salts. Trees native to the planting region are best adapted to withstand the stress of local weather.

Evergreen Trees

Chinese cedar (Cedrela sinensis,) native to China, is a hardy evergreen tree that is drought-tolerant, wind-resistant, tolerant of road salts, fast-growing and presents an open canopy that allows light to reach the ground. Chinese cedar thrives in United States hardiness zones 4 through 9. Chinese cedar reaches a height of 50 to 60 feet at maturity.

Ginkgo Trees

The ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) also known as the maidenhair tree, is a hardy and tenacious tree, well adapted to urban landscapes. Widely used as an ornamental tree in parks, commercial landscapes and street planting, the ginkgo tree thrives in United States hardiness zones 3 through 8. Ginkgo trees grow to a height of 25 to 50 feet tall with a 25 to 30 foot spread. Ginkgo trees have a pyramidal shape and do best in a location with full sun. Ginkgo trees adapt to all types of soil and are drought-tolerant.

Oak Trees

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra,) Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) and live oak (Quercus virginiana) are oak tree varieties that grow well in United States hardiness zones 5 though 9. Oak trees are adaptable to most soil conditions, drought-tolerant, strong and hardy. These varieties of oak trees reach a mature height of 50 to 80 feet at maturity and present brilliant fall foliage in vivid shades of red, orange and yellow.

The Best Trees for Lining Streets
Oak trees are valued for their brilliant fall foliage. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Cedar Elm

The cedar elm tree (Ulmus crassifolia) is a strong, medium growth rate tree that performs well in urban conditions. Cedar elm trees reach a mature height of 70 feet and present a 40 to 60 foot spreading canopy. The cedar elm tree is a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance tree that adapts to most soil conditions. Cedar elm is a commonly used tree for street planting in the desert southwest. In autumn, the foliage turns a brilliant yellow-gold.

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