New trees fill canopy gaps on arterial streets

SDOT urban forestry crews plant a tree on Greenwood Ave N

When a street tree dies or is removed it leaves an empty pit and a stump; a former asset becomes a potential tripping hazard and disheartening eyesore.   This is why we focus on replacement trees in fall.  Historically, SDOT has planted and maintained trees on arterial corridors where adjacent property owners are unlikely or unable to care for trees.  Now we have expanded our planting program into residential neighborhoods, but we plant replacement trees on arterials as needed.  Trees on arterial streets face numerous challenges; vehicle accidents, limited root space, vandalism, and air pollution mean that life span for a street tree is much shorter than for the same species in a residential landscape.

Replacement trees can be more expensive and labor intensive to plant than large-scale new plantings on open planting strips.  Replacement involves grinding stumps and controlling traffic; isolated planting sites mean longer travel times and higher maintenance costs while the tree gets established.  However, filling gaps in tree-lined corridors is a necessary function of SDOT Urban Forestry.  As the new tree’s canopy expands to fill the empty space, it intercepts stormwater, reduces air pollution, sequesters carbon, and raises adjacent property values; the investment in the urban forest is paid back.