Street trees pose a minimal risk to the surrounding pavement and offer numerous benefits, including noise reduction, privacy and combating radiant heat from the asphalt below. A successful tree planting starts with careful consideration of critical factors, including overhead power lines, mature tree size and soil conditions, as well as the disease and insect problems in your area.
Maple trees (Acer spp.) are old-fashioned landscape staples with attractive palmate-shaped leaves and beautiful fall color. Trident maple (Acer buergeranum) is a small variety that thrives when surrounded by turfgrass. It grows 20 to 25 feet tall at a rate of 36 inches per year in full sun to full shade in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10. Ideal for parking lot islands and buffer strips, hedge maple “Queen Elizabeth” (Acer campestre “Queen Elizabeth”) grows about 50 feet tall at a rate of 12 to 35 inches per year in USDA zones 5 through 8.
Certain broadleaf evergreens are just the right choice for a shade-providing street tree. Tolerant of highly alkaline soil, loquat “Coppertone” (Eriobotrya japonica “Coppertone”) grows about 25 feet tall in USDA zones 7 through 11. This evergreen bears edible fruit. Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis) is ideal for full sun and is native to western Texas and New Mexico. This evergreen grows 25 to 50 feet tall in USDA zones 7 and 8 and prefers sandy loams. Both trees grow 12 to 36 inches per year.
Tolerates Air Pollution
The air pollution tolerance of some trees makes them superior selections for urban environments. Little leaf linden (Tilia cordata) is “one of the best city and street trees,” according to the City of Spokane. It grows 30 to 50 feet tall at a rate of 12 to 24 inches per year in USDA zones 4 through 8. European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) grows up to 40 feet tall and wide, but tolerates pruning, in USDA zones 4 through 8 and prefers clay to loam soil. Both trees perform best in moist soil and tolerate highly acidic soil.
Some street trees for full sun have few problems, a plus when growing near the street. Chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), also known as yellow chestnut oak, is native to the southern and eastern U.S. and exhibits resistance to disease, drought and insects. This tree grows about 65 feet tall at a rate of 24 inches or more per year in USDA zones 3 through 9 in full sun. Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) is extremely pest-free and tolerant of smog. It grows about 65 feet tall at a rate of 12 to 24 inches per year in USDA zones 5 through 9. Male gingko trees do not produce fruit.