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Street Trees for Under Powerlines

Striking a balance between community expectations around fire prevention and encouraging increased canopy cover along streets is tricky. What should you consider? And what selections are available?

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From our perspective, there are three key points to consider with tree selection. All are related but each needs to be addressed separately to assess the bigger picture.

Buy quality. You get what you pay for and accredited nurseries charge more for their trees because of the inputs and processes they adopt. These nurseries are audited to ensure compliance to high-quality growing systems which from your point of view is an investment in the tree itself. 

The benefits of great processes are trees with good root systems giving great anchorage when planted so they are less likely to fail and fall within the vicinity of power lines. Trees with a well attached branch structure will also be less likely to lose or drop branches in extreme weather conditions. And quality trees require less maintenance post-planting.

Formative Pruning is essential. This is particularly important with younger trees to ensure a good mature form.  Critical decisions that set the tree up for life are made early, including the decision to terminate should form not be good enough or systems not supportive enough for long term growth. Get to know the production nursery and be assured that these practices are in place before you buy.

Be aware of the work required with purchasing smaller trees over advanced specimens. Smaller stock will need seasonal pruning to ensure longevity - at least two formative pruning seasons for the smaller stock. If the quality and frequency of post-planting maintenance in the landscape is an issue, the advanced specimens greater than 50 litres will be more cost effective in the long run due to less work being required once established, the formative pruning has already been done for you.

Forget the notion that anyone with secateurs can maintain trees. It is about good pruning practices that train the tree to grow in the right way. This is highly skilled work and needs to be done properly with well trained and qualified staff, not the lowest priced contractor. Train your people and /or bring them into the nursery environment for a first-hand demonstration.

Plant selection is vital. There has been a huge amount of work done over the years in selecting smaller trees for planting in urban environments and these can be utilised under power lines. There are trees that remain under 6 metres that can be easily pruned to accommodate wires.  Growing trees true to type is essential if planting in restricted growth zones.

For more information on any of these trees or others you are considering, please contact the sales team on 03 9796 8308 or by email sales@specialitytrees.com.au.

Here are some suggestions that we know will perform well for this purpose.

And a  VIDEO of 40cm/50cm stock ready to plant now!

Grows 8m x 7m. A new grafted selection. Small to medium-sized tree, grafted for compactness. Great for urban situations including streetscapes. Makes a reliable shade tree. 30cm/14L 40cm/27L 200L
Grows 8m x 7m. A new grafted selection with a bloated trunk and stunning flowers in summer. This is another tree that would make a good street tree and distinctive signature statement. It is a reliable selection for shade. 40cm/27L
Grows 4m x 2m. This native small tree is very hardy and adaptable to a wide range of locations and soils. A highly versatile tree for many situations with distinctive red bottle brush flowers, it is generally trouble-free. 30cm/14L 40cm/27L 50cm/52L
Grows 7m x 3m. This fantastic selection has fine leaves, grows to 7 metres in 20 years, remains fully ‘dressed’ with little to no limb drop and has the most magnificent salmon-pink bark. Grafted onto C. maculata this tree will appeal for street tree and general amenity plantings. 40cm/27L
Grows 6m x 3m. This is a compact growing, spreading tree to 3 metres. A nice selection for streetscapes and performs best in full sun. Easy to prune and maintain. 40cm/27L
Grows 8m x 4m approx. This is our selection and new to the range. It has a more dense and upright habit compared to straight Lophostemon confertus. It is not overly tall but has an impressive structure perfect for streetscapes. 40cm/27L
Grows 7m x 3m. This is a small, tough tree with glossy foliage. Tristaniopsis has been used extensively in Melbourne as a street tree. However, this newer variety with its smaller, more compact form is far more suitable for under power lines. We have found it requires a little effort to establish but it copes with pruning well and provides excellent specimen when mature. 40cm/27L 50cm/52L 100L
All Lagerstroemia Selections apply. Trees grow between 3-8m x 3-4m depending on variety. All varieties perform well with minimal maintenance and respond well to regular pruning. They cope well with a variety of soil types. There are a number of varieties to choose from based on flower colour. We prefer Sioux, Natchez or Zuni as they are more compact trees. 30cm/14L 40cm/27L 50cm/52L 100L 200L
Grows 6m x 4m. In the same vein as Lagerstroemia but with more a weeping habit, this deciduous ornamental offers flower and form to 6m which makes it a fabulous small feature tree in streetscapes where height and space is limited. 40cm/27L

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