Street Tree Recommendations

The Forest Board now has five years of experience with choosing diversified street trees, starting with the 2007 Grant.  We can begin to say which tree species are performing well under our current circumstances.   We have had good success with London Plane 'Yarwood', with Tulip Poplars, with Chestnut Oaks, and are beginning to evaluate Basswoods, and some medium-sized trees.

In choosing a shade tree, four factors are of great importance for a healthy tree:
  • the exposure of the site (FULL SUN vs. Intermediate Sun vs. Shade).  (In progress:  Add Picture:  Tulip Poplar leaning to find sun)
  • the wetness of the site (especially ANY FLOODING EVER).  (Add Picture:  Show Bald Cypress in standing water)
  • the size of the planting site, including distance to the next tree(s) and size of the rooting zone.  (Show competition &  narrow planting strip problems)
  • the overhead clearance available (Show Pin Oak over topped; and wires and trees)
Ideally a major canopy tree should have 150-200 square foot of rooting room and should be at least 30 foot apart (depending on species.)  A chart in included in the attachments showing Sun, Partial Shade, and Full Shade tolerance for various species.  Full Sun means just that and afternoon sun does not count.  The other items to consider are growth rate and pruning needs.  Several wonderful trees are rare in Audubon Park because they are slow to establish, like Beech and Tupelos and White Oaks.  We urge you to practice "delayed gratification" in planting trees.  Plant the biggest species, at the smallest size, and plant slow growing species if that tree will be good on your site.  Five years will go by in a flash, and you will have the pleasure of watching your tree grow.  With good site preparation, even slow growing trees seem to grow well each year.

For the 2007 Grant, each species had a short description for the homeowner, based on information from The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, by Michael A. Dirr and on information from Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, by William Cullina.  These capsules comments have been collected and updated with Observations from Audubon Park for recommended species:  Oaks, Other Canopy Trees, and Medium Trees/Small Trees (Ornamentals). 

The Tree Planting Program and how to apply are explained in the Street Easement Trees.  Individual sheets for different species are attached as separate sub-pages for the Easement Tree page and are illustrated with recent young trees and some mature trees from Audubon Park.   The internet, of course, is full of information, but our goal is to choose trees that we know are doing well here, or trees that should grow well.  There are trees that you can study and see in different seasons.  We also need to encourage people to try new tree species that have certain valuable qualities, like wind throw resistance and storm breakage resistance.  The Forest Board welcomes chances to consult about plant selection.  It is important to know that you must apply for a permit to plant in the easement.  Please call us!

At present, we can recommend:  American Elms with Dutch Elm Disease resistance, like Princeton Elm; London Plane 'Yarwood' seedlings; Chestnut Oak; Willow Oak; N. Red Oak; American Linden (Basswood); Tulip Poplar; Black gum (Tupelo); Bald cypress; Sugarberry and Yellow Buckeye.  In certain sites, like large side yards, hickories might also be consider.  They are tall, upright, strong, well-rooted, and have excellent fall color.  But they do have nuts every other year, beginning at about age 20 and they take several years to establish their initial tap roots before they begin to grow.  For sites limited by shade or low clearance, we recommend planting Allegheny Serviceberry, American Smoketree (full sun), and American Hornbeam.  Yellowwood is also a medium sized rounded wide tree with shade tolerance, and has been effective in Triangle Park.  It will be too wide for use in most easement sites.  More are being planted in the Parks.

Please do not plant these trees in the easements

  • Dogwoods (either C. florida or C. kousa) 
  • Bradford Pears
  • Redbuds 
  • Grafted Cherries
  • Clumped trees, like Heritage River Birches.

Dogwoods and redbuds are relatively short-lived understory trees that perform much better in the front yard or adjacent to the house, with a canopy tree to provide filtered shade protection from full sun.  They are not well shaped to serve an easement function.  They do not provide canopy coverage.  Redbud is specifically noted to be sensitive to salt.  Both trees have considerable breakage and branch die-back.   But more important, when you plant them in the easement, you've taken away a shade tree site.

Ornamental pears are brittle and split and break readily, and have turned out to be an invasive species that is seeding in and taking over native woodland areas.  Ornamental Cherries need to be place into the yards and cannot be trained to be street trees.

Birches clumps are poorly designed for street tree use. The Heritage birch showed major damage with ice loading in 2009.  Many birches snapped in two and lost their crowns.  


The Tree Committee regularly searches for trees that are not readily available in nurseries so as to increase diversity.  We also share trees with and collaborate with other City Forest personnel in sharing trees.  If you have a special tree in mind, please let us know.

An excellent sources for a wide variety of trees, at an affordable size,  is ordering through the Clark County Sewer & Water Conservation District.  It is a short trip to Indiana to pick up the trees. The Clark County brochure comes out in early Spring and Fall, and changes each time.  The Tree Committee is making a large order this year, to complete park plantings and try several new trees.  There is more about sources for trees on the yearly sheet about the planting program. 

Buying from a Nursery

If you buy your own trees, you need to know what to look for.  The best short guides are printed below, from Edward Gilman's  Cue sheets.  These should be easy to print and take along to a nursery.  The sheet on "Recognizing Tree Quality" is easier than the sheet about "Root Analysis" -- but getting a tree with good roots, and making sure that the root ball is properly tended to when planting is a large part of protection your investment.  The only nursery where the planting personnel do a thorough root dissection when planting (by our experience) is Plant Kingdom.  If you aren't planting the tree yourself, and want great planting, look at Plant Kingdom first.

Anne Bobigian,
Feb 14, 2012, 5:29 PM
Anne Bobigian,
Feb 14, 2012, 5:29 PM
Anne Bobigian,
Feb 14, 2012, 5:29 PM
Anne Bobigian,
Jan 30, 2012, 6:27 PM