I would like to plant a tree on the sidewalk grass strip in front of
my house that will eventually grow into a tall, graceful shade tree
(no fruit trees, please). The strip is less than 5 feet wide, but I
have seen some pretty big trees growing in strips that size in the
area. I would like to avoid trees with shallow, invasive roots (my
perennial garden is less than 10 feet away), and would be looking for
one that has beautiful fall color. I live in Providence, Rhode Island
(zone 5), and the location faces south. I don't mind slow growers,
because I see this as a tree for future generations, and I would like
my garden to get some more sun in the near future.
Around here I'd have to get permission from the City to plant a tree in
the parking strip and they might not let me plant ANYTHING there
(parking strips are City property). If it were mine I'd kill that
stupid 40-year-old 15-foot tall scraggy magnolia tree and put in a
jacaranda, but they'd probably put me in jail for that.
I've never seen a more beautiful tree back east than the oaks and
maples. Could something be better than those?
Try these reccommendations:
MINOR TREES [Use under utility lines and in 3’ tree-lawns (the area
between the curb and sidewalk) 1 ½” to 3” in caliper, 30’ apart]
.. Acer campestre – Hedge Maple
.. Acer ginnala – Amur Maple
.. Acer buergerinaum – Trident Maple
.. Carpinus betululus – European Hornbean
.. Viburnum prunifolium – Black-haw Viburnum
.. Koeleuteria paniculata – Golden raintree
.. Prunus virginiana – Shubert Cherry
.. Prunus sargentii – Sargent Cherry
.. Amelanchier arborea – Service Berry
.. Magnolia galaxy – Galaxy Magnolia
.. Pyrus calleryana – Aristocrat, Cleveland Select, Redspire
.. Syringa reticulata – Japanese Tree Lilac
2 ½” to 3” caliper spaced 40’ to 50’ apart
.. Quercus borealis – Red Oak
.. Quercus phellos – Willow Oak
.. Quercus imbricaria – Shingle Oak
.. Quercus acutissima – Sawtooth Oak
.. Fraxinus pennsyvanica – Green Oak
.. Tilia Cordata – Littleleaf Linden
.. Tiliatomentosa – Silver Linden
.. Ginkgo biloba – Ginkgo (fruitless cultivars)
.. Celtis Occidentalis – Kackberry
.. Gleditsia Triacanthos – Honey Locust
.. Gymnocladus dioicus – Kentucky Coffetree
.. Acer rubrum – Red Maple
.. Sophcra Japonica – Pagodatree
.. Zelkova Serrata – Zelkova
.. Ulmus parvifolia – Chinese Elm
.. Eucommia ulmoides – Hardy Rubber Tree
.. Nyssa sylvatica - Blackgum
• If sidewalk exists, tree must be planted between the curb and the sidewalk,
2 feet behind the face of
• If no sidewalk exists, tree must be planted 5 feet behind the face of the
• For increasing diversity and minimizing the spread of disease, several
species of trees should be used,
installed on an alternating basis.
The reason you should contact your city is that cities usually
have lists of recommended trees. These lists are based on what
will thrive in your climate and in the confined space between the
sidewalk and curb. The lists are also based on what will not
invade sewer lines, lift sidewalks, or drip on parked cars.
For your situation, I strongly recommend a diciduous tree that
will allow winter sun on your house but shade it in the summer. A
slow grower is good because they generally live longer.
I agree with this advice. My city went through a major tree-cutting
operation several years ago after they did sidewalk repair/renovation.
A good part of the repair was necessary because of very large old
trees heaving up the concrete. The recent hurricane brought down trees
of many species, so I would (now) be concerned about a tree that might
grow tall enough to span a lawn and fall on a house. The "official"
street tree here is crape myrtle, and while many of *those* were
downed, they aren't enoumously heavy (or tall, usually) and their
canopy is fluffy and light. Alas, not hardy in RI, I assume.
Providence should have a list that will help you select.
I don't know how it would fit, but now that they have disease-resistant
elms, it would be nice to have them lining streets again.
I have both a Bloodgood Japanese maple and a kousa dogwood within
planting beds, so neither has a destructive root system, and they both
have great color.
be looking for one that has beautiful fall color
'Autumn Blaze' Maple
Northern Red Oak
'Autumn Purple' American Ash (Fraxinus americana)
'Marshall's seedliss' (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
'Armstrong' red maple (Acer rubrum)
I think I read that the most heavily planted street or boulevard tree in the
US is the Red Oak-- Quercus rubra. It's an outstanding candidate for the
growing conditions you're describing. As to their growth, Dirr writes:
"Red Oak can grow 2' per year over a 10 year period in moist, well-drained
soil; however, in Wichita, KS tests averaged 11.5" per year over a 9 year
Red oaks provide abundant shade and are also pollution and soil-compaction
tolerant-- they of course provide a great source of food for local wildlife.
During their juvenile and more mature growth they exhibit grace, although
they do gain a certain massive gravitas later in life.
Tilia cordata, the Littleleaf Linden, is also a great choice and is not as
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