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Street-wise trees

CandideZA
Published on August 18th 2020
15
Trees are what make roads iconic and there are few things in life as delightful as driving down a street lined with the beautiful, stately trees.
A street tree is non-scientific landscaping lingo for vegetation that is ideally suited to growing along pavements, roadsides, driveways, highways and parking lots. Street trees that line our roadsides are particularly important in urban centres. They soften the concrete skyline and tarred roadsides, reduce water runoff if planted in roadside flowerbeds but most importantly they have the ability to control heat in urban areas.
A close up of a tree
With all that said, however, not every tree is suitable to be labelled a 'street tree' and it is therefore important that home gardeners, garden designers and landscape architects consider the following factors before planting a tree next to paving or a roadside.

Roots

The first thing to take into consideration when choosing a tree for planting close to man-made buildings and pavements is its root system. A good street tree does not have an invasive root system but rather a taproot that will not lift paving or interfere with pipes whilst trying to create their own subway system.
A close up of a tree

Fruit

The last thing one would want is a street tree that creates a mess during its fruiting season. Some trees drop berries which can stain paving, driveways or cars and will also result in a mess when they turn overripe and soft. Trees with fruit are also a favourite amongst birds as the fruit serves as food for them. This may result in bird droppings all over which might also not be ideal.
A close up of fruit on a rock

Leaves

Perhaps not as crucial as roots and fruit, but deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves for a season) will cause a lot of sweeping and raking. Evergreen trees in this regard will make for neater street trees.
A bird perched on a tree branch
Here are a few of our favourite street trees:
Searsia lancea, Rhus lancea

Karee

Searsia lancea

Searsia pendulina

White Karee

Searsia pendulina

A green plant

Cape Chestnut

Calodendrum capense

Cape Holly

Ilex mitis

Fever Tree

Valhellia xanthoploea

Kiggelaria africana

Wild Peach

Kiggelaria africana

Dais cotinifolia, Pompon tree

Pompon Tree

Dais cotinifolia

Looking for a tree for a small garden? Dig into the article below!

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