Debunking Anti-Tree Myths

Most of the reasons street trees are sometimes unpopular with residents are either untrue or can be mitigated.

August 8, 2019, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Rua Goncalo de Carvalho

Amigos da Rua Goncalo / Wikimedia Commons

There's a surprising amount of resistance to the ideas of street trees planted in sidewalks, according to an article by Catalina Jaramillo:

Trees aren’t generally controversial. They usually look nice, they provide shade and improve the air and water quality. Scientists say they even make people happier. 

But when it comes to planting a tree on the street, many Philadelphians say — nuh uh, not in my sidewalk. 

The reasoning for this anti-tree vitriol is fairly easily debunked, according to Jaramillo.

The article walks through a series of myths about street trees, providing evidence to the contrary:

  • MYTH 1: ‘There’s few trees in lower-income neighborhoods because residents don’t want them’ 
  • MYTH 2: ‘Trees get into pipes’ 
  • MYTH 3: ‘Tree planting and maintenance is prohibitively expensive’
  • MYTH 4: ‘Trees destroy sidewalks’ 

As noted by Jaramillo, sometimes there are risks and liabilities associated with street trees, and sometimes the trees chosen for planting on streets are the wrong trees for the job. But still, trees can and should be far more beneficial than harmful, and it's far more worth the effort of having trees than not to have any trees at all.

Thursday, August 8, 2019 in PlanPhilly

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