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Trees for streets

Alison Aplin

Alison Aplin

May 24, 2012

I live in a small township in SW Victoria with a population of about 500 people. It is a long, narrow town with hills to our north and the sea to the south. The town girdles the Princes Highway, so is a main thoroughfare.

Wyndham St. (also the Princes Highway) in Narrawong, my lovely home town but one very much in need of beautiful, substantial trees to line its streets

For all that it is a great place to live, especially with such a beautiful climate that we experience, there is something to me that is missing – street trees. The main street, a highway, is devoid of any vegetation other than mowed grass, usually kikuyu. And we have wide verges too – perfect for growing trees of significance!

Most country towns that you drive through leave some sort of an impression. As a tree lover, I usually drool over the towns where some wise planner has planted trees for posterity; trees that are then preserved in maturity as heritage trees.

Street trees have a purpose other than mere aesthetics. Once trees become commonplace along roadways and locals see the beauty of them, they can then become inclined to plant more trees in their own gardens. There is apparently a natural follow-on effect as an advantage.

The carbon sequestration gained from the planting of especially large trees, selected to grow in harmony with their surroundings and climate, can be considerable. The planting schedule, with the community working together on the project, assists with community bonding which is always a bonus.

There are theories that when greenery, especially in the form of trees are present, that negative behaviours in the form of vandalism and aggression, are reduced. I know when I look out of my own windows and see the wonderful array of eucalypts and deciduous trees in my own garden, that there is a sense of harmony that pervades my whole being.

Towns with street trees of significance have an increase in their house prices varying from 5% to 18% higher. But the most important reason to plant street trees of significance is the legacy that is left for future generations. If the right plants are selected, that grow slowly and strongly with a long life, then these plants are surely trees for posterity.

Because we have overhead powerlines running the length along one side through the township, the proposal will be to only plant out one side.

Princes Highway in nearby Port Fairy has huge Norfolk Island pines, Araucaria heterophylla, along the side without overhead wires

In the picture, taken of the main road through Port Fairy [which is also Princes Highway], they have planted Norfolk Island Pines, Araucaria heterophylla which are very big. The debate with the local community will be 1. Do we want trees along the highway [PLEASE say yes!], 2. what plant do we want? and 3. how are we going to fund the proposal?

Another part of the Princes Highway in Port Fairy with young brushbox, Lophostemon confertus, which will develop into a majestic avenue




I am the Chairperson of our local District Association, and the best legacy that I can give to my local community is to open discussion about the need for majestic trees to line our main road, to hopefully source community grants to finance the project, to the hopeful final outcome of planting these beauties with subsequent ongoing maintenance.

Alison Aplin

Alison Aplin

Alison is a passionate, multi award winning sustainable landscape designer, Horticulturist and arborist. She has been the owner and designer of 2 Ecotourism gardens that have both won significant awards. Her writing is based on knowledge, empirical learning which is essential to sustainable ethic, and a questioning mind leading to much research. Her articles are often controversial - with a disclaimer that she is responsible for the written matter, and not Garden Drum. A deeply caring person about the natural environment, Alison's writing endeavours to explain why sustainable landscapes are so important. Without people like her, they will be lost and gardens will become merely concrete
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8 years ago

Perhaps you could form a SW Victorian association to encourage the planting of street trees. On a visit to my old home town of Warrnambool last year, it was all too obvious that, while earlier generations had been conscious of the need for street plantings, more recent civic fathers had paid little or no attention to the overall beautification of the streetscape. Wide streets, with broad verges completely unadorned with trees or shrubs generally add to that moonscape atmosphere. This antipathy to trees seems to have carried over into private gardens – newer areas, even when the houses have room for gardens, are planted with neatly trimmed shrubs, and carefully regimented flower beds. Do you think that people in Warrnambool (along, it would seem, with the majority of urban dwellers) are intimidated by plants which are not fully controlled, shrubs which are a little unruly, and trees that are taller than human beings?

8 years ago
Reply to  rgdoz

Thank you for your comment.
My personal view about how we view plants, most especially trees, is a direct reflection about our views on life itself.
The need for green-life, whether in private gardens or streetscape has become ‘unimportant’ to most people. Too many people don’t like trees because they block gutters without thinking about the more important advantages of growing trees e.g. the insulating effect produced through evapotranspiration. Life is an issue for too many – the pace is too fast; people don’t realise that having a garden and providing personal space in that even small area, can be so rewarding.
It is unfortunate that people are copying bad gardens because they are easy to do – the massed flaxes, cordylines and yuccas with river pebbles has become the norm. Not a tree in sight. And it is often the property developers who are setting these bad standards – cheap gardens set up to sell properties.
At least you are aware and asking questions. I will consider your suggestion about the association. Thank you for your input.