How To Select The Best Trees For Sidewalks And Tree Grates

Christmas Tree Shops

Published on December 19th, 2019

Property owners today invest heavily in the latest landscaping trends. Every available space has beautiful features and landscaping systems.

In addition to traditional landscaping features such as pavers and sidewalks, you will also find a variety of innovative water features, tree grates, backyard structures, and food gardens among other ideas. However, one landscaping idea that never goes out of style is tree planting.

Green landscaping is one of the most common property improvement ideas for residential, commercial and industrial settings.

Trees and other plants add a dash of color and organic beauty to your landscaping. They also improve walk ability which is a great attraction in modern cities.

Trees also have other benefits such as maintaining ecological balance providing shade and reduction of pollution. In an urban setting, trees add the much need element of nature to counter the dominant infrastructure.

Challenges In Urban Tree Planting

Trees in urban settings suffer myriad challenges and you have to address these for the best green landscaping effect. Some of the challenges include:

  • Poor soil quality: During construction of parking lots, pavements or sidewalks, the contractors have to remove the topsoil first. They then compact the subgrade before installing crushed stone and other materials. Tree roots will find it hard to penetrate such a soil mixture.
  • Root damage: If you had existing trees during sidewalk construction, it is likely the roots suffered damage. If you plant new trees after sidewalk construction, there’s also a risk of root damage.
  • Poor soil moisture: In landscaping, the emphasis is on good drainage and some of the systems installed can deprive trees and other plants water. Exposure of the roots also hinders the proper growth of the trees.
  • Excessive heat: Parking lots and sidewalks generate a lot of heat and the solar heat sink of the pavement makes things worse. The heat from cars and adjacent buildings also affects trees along sidewalks and pavements.
  • Soli volume restriction: This affects the optimal development of your trees as the lateral growth of roots is impossible.

All these factors contribute to the low life expectancy of trees in urban areas. It also makes things tougher if you want to improve your urban landscaping with trees.

Selecting The Right Trees For Sidewalks

Best Trees For Sidewalks

One of the most effective ways of overcoming urban green landscaping is by selecting the right type of trees. Tree species vary a lot and there are some which do well under the most strenuous conditions.

When Selecting Trees To Plant Along Sidewalks, Here Are Some Things To Consider:

1. Types Of Roots

Due to the space constrictions and lack of adequate soli volume, you should not plant trees with large surface roots. These will end up damaging your sidewalks or paving as the roots search for space to grow.

Some of the suitable trees for sidewalks include:

  • Cherry tree
  • Little Volunteer Tulip Tree
  • Dogwood
  • Red Leaf Japanese Maple
  • Ginkgo
  • Hedge Maple
  • Hickory
  • Hornbeam
  • Japanese lilac tree
  • American Linden (Basswood) trees
  • Northern Red Oak
  • “Fastigiata” Spruce
  • Linden
  • Peartree (ornamental pear trees)
  • Blue Spruce
  • Walnut
  • White oak
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Sun Valley Maple
  • Magnolia
  • River Birch
  • Pink Azaleas Mollis Hybrid
  • Princeton American Elm

A well-designed tree grate can prevent accidents that such roots can cause and also adds to the landscaping aesthetics.

2. Avoid Dense Canopies

You want to maintain your streets looking bright and well-lit during the day and night. When choosing trees for your sidewalks, avoid trees with dense canopies as they will prevent sunlight penetration to the pavement.

When it rains, the dense canopies preventing rapid evaporation of precipitation. This prevents dampness which would eventually damage your sidewalks or the rest of your structures.

3. Avoid Littering Trees

It is common for trees to shed leaves in fall but some species do it throughout the year. You should avoid tree species that will make landscape maintenance tough due to littering. Some trees can litter the sidewalks with large leaves, fruits, and branches and should be avoided.

4. Consider Maturity Height

When planting any tree along your sidewalks, you have to consider the mature size. You should estimate the tree height and determine whether this will tamper with overhangs and overhead utilities in the future.

The tree height should not interfere with the traffic near the sidewalks as this can lead to property damage.

  • Plant trees on the sidewalks based on the expected maturity height:
  • Up to 30 feet high(a minimum of three to four feet from sidewalks)
  • Up to 30–50 feet high (a minimum of five to six feet from sidewalks.
  • Up to 50 feet high (a minimum of eight feet from sidewalks)


5. Install Tree Grates

One of the most innovative ways of protecting your urban trees is by installing tree grates. These accessories play a vital role in urban landscaping.

They cover tree roots and protect them from damage while at the same time preventing accidents along the sidewalks. The urban accessories tree grates also provide more loose soil and space for tree root development.

6. Consider Street Type

Ceremonial streets with government offices and other such services are wider and feature a consistent and formal style. They can accommodate large trees with overarching canopies which won’t shed lots of foliage.

Smaller residential streets do best with medium-sized trees with light to medium density foliage. You should also consider the texture and color of the tree and confirm it suits the surrounding.

Are you thinking of planting trees along your sidewalks? These tips should get you started. Always consider the aesthetic impact you want, tree type, roots, and height.