treeMunicipal “street tree”A municipal “street tree” is a tree growing in the municipal right-of-way along a roadway. The right-of-way can include sidewalks, planting strips between the road and the sidewalk, and even part of one’s front yard. It is often measured 33 feet in both directions from the road’s center line. If your property has road frontage, check with your municipality to identify how far the right-of-way extends into your property. Trees planted on private property, but in the municipal right-of-way, are often installed and maintained by a municipality.

Comprehensive street tree selection website
Due to the harsh conditions of street tree locations, some tree species are better suited to these locations than others. The most comprehensive list of street trees for our region is the Recommended Urban Street Tree Collection found in the Woody Plant Database by Dr. Nina Bassuk at the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University. Please make sure to favor trees native to the northeastern U.S.A. and to avoid invasive trees when making selections using this tool.

Title: Woody Plant Database--Recommended Urban Street Tree Collection
Sponsoring Organization: Cornell University Urban Horticulture Institute
Description: Find the right hardy tree for your harsh urban site. Use the search function to find appropriate species. Westchester County is in planting zones up to 6b and 7a. See photos and growing requirements for many tree species. Please favor native trees and avoid invasive trees when using this tool.

Title: Northeast Community Tree Planting Guide: Benefits, Costs and Strategic Planting (August 2007)
Sponsoring Organization: USDA United States Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, State and Private Forestry, and Urban and Community Forestry Program
Authors: E. Gregory McPherson, James R. Simpson, Paula J. Peper, Shelley L. Gardner, Kelaine E. Vargas, and Qingfu Xiao
Description: Guide largely aimed at municipalities to help them make a financial cost-benefit analysis in order to plant trees strategically. Work is based on four species, representing small, medium, large and one evergreen conifer. While two of the four species used in this document are non-native, the document remains a valuable guide to municipalities.

Tree diversity is essential
When selecting street tree species, achieving species diversity is very important. Species diversity increases the resilience of an urban forest in case a blight or disease strikes that kills a specific tree host. We continue to see the introduction of invasive insects and diseases such as Dutch elm disease, Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, spotted lanternfly, and Beech leaf disease.

It is recommended that a municipality aim for:

  • No more than 10 percent of one species,
  • No more than 20 percent of one genus,
  • No more than 30 percent of one family.

To accomplish the ambitious goals of increasing our tree canopy coverage, building species diversity, and strengthening the resilience of our urban forest, Westchester County municipalities will need to integrate regularly updated street tree inventories and management plans. The article below explains how to maintain the oftentimes desirable visual tree uniformity many communities desire, while at the same time planting the diverse species long-term success will require.

Title: Creating Urban Tree Biodiversity Within a Uniform Street Tree Landscape
Sponsor Organization: Cornell University, Urban Horticulture Institute
Description: Dr. Nina Bassuk, Professor at the Urban Horticulture Institute, School of Integrative Plant Science (at Cornell University), explains how to create urban tree biodiversity while still maintaining a uniform street tree landscape.