After 20 years of TREENET symposia, there is a much better understanding of what makes a street tree planting successful. Proper tree selection and using the highest quality stock are a great start, but problems with planting technique are still too common. Trees are planted too deep or shallow and the process of planting can contribute to site compaction. Even the mulch and paving materials surrounding street trees can affect their success.
Street trees can benefit enormously from cost-effective formative pruning. However, this simple and efficient technique is still practised rarely in municipal horticulture. Even simple maintenance such a deadwooding canopies is often forgotten. Many street trees suffer damage and wounds from neglect or the human activities taking place around them. Appropriate action such as bark grafting and the use of epicormic and lignotuberous shoots can quickly restore the amenity of a tree.
In an era when ground penetrating radar and the use of drones allows better inspection of tree canopies and root systems, it is disappointing that street tree plantings often fail through ignorance and the failure to apply basic arboricultural principles. This paper is a timely reminder of what can be done to make street trees great again.
Senior Research Associate of Burnley College, University of Melbourne Greg was Principal of Burnley from 1988 to 2007 and Head of the School of Resource Management at the University from 2002 to 2007.
With a general interest in horticultural plant science, revegetation and ecology, Greg is particularly interested in arboriculture. He was inaugural president of the International Society of Arboriculture, Australian Chapter, and has been a member of the National Trust’s Register of Significant Trees since 1988 and chair since 1996. He has served the Board of Greening Australia (Victoria) 1988-2012 and was a trustee of Trust for Nature, 2009-17. He has chaired TREENET since 2005 and is on the board of Sustainable Gardening Australia. He has written two books, contributed to five others and has published over 165 scientific papers and articles. He was awarded an OAM in 2017 for services to the environment, particularly arboriculture.