Can you believe there are street tree adversaries? Some business owners fear the tree canopy will block their facades, causing them to lose customers, or perceive falling leaves as messy or a potential slipping hazard. (Honestly, anyone who blames a tree for a business failure has problems that run deeper than vegetation.)
But, the positives prevail! Plenty of studies show that street trees have economic benefits, slow traffic, encourage people to spend money, reduce crime, enhance driver safety, raise home prices, have health benefits, and make positive first impressions among visitors/customers.
Your planning department as well as local arborists and horticulturalists can be a huge help in selecting the right street trees; and the latter can talk about proper care, appropriate grates, and maintenance. Design professionals or SketchUp whizzes can create design schemes so you can visualize how a certain tree species will look on your street. Your favorite Main Street community can help show how the right kind of tree can make the district look awfully attractive and not block the facades. My favorite example of street trees done well is in Lewisburg, Penn. The photos in this blog showcase how the height and spacing of the right tree can accentuate, not detract from facades and store signage.
* If you need quantified data on the benefits of street trees, Burden's 22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees is truly your best source.
** And, Leda Marritz just blogged for Next City about how to help keep our urban trees healthy. Why is that important? She points out that the USDA Forest Service recently determined that U.S. cities are losing around 4 million trees annually!