Cultivating urban spaces

Cultivating urban spaces is a specialist area, and Arborgreen has some insights on nurturing street trees for vibrant communities.

As we stroll down the avenues of our neighbourhoods, the character of our streetscapes speaks volumes about our communities. Whether it’s the fresh greenery of newly planted street trees in a growing development or the comforting embrace of a mature, leafy canopy in an established suburb, the visual tapestry of our streets reflects careful planning and ongoing maintenance.

Research suggests the presence of green, leafy streets is visually appealing and synonymous with prosperity and a high quality of living. This sentiment is reinforced by those considering species selection, ongoing maintenance practices, and programs dedicated to the health of our street trees.

Support for good health

While we may have previously touched on the myriad benefits of tree canopies – from improving mental health and property values to mitigating the Urban Heat Island Effect – it’s crucial to note Australia has witnessed a concerning 20 per cent loss of tree cover since 2000. With this in mind, we must acknowledge the significance of canopy cover and cultivating urban spaces. Fortunately, in recent years, councils nationwide have implemented ambitious programs to increase greenery, with targets ranging from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. Examples include the City of Onkaparinga’s goal to plant 100,000 street trees by 2037, the City of Prospect’s draft mission to boost canopy cover by a minimum of 20 per cent by 2045, and the Yarra City Council’s plan to increase canopy coverage from 17.7 per cent to 21.25 per cent across the municipality by 2040.

It’s also crucial to consider the stark contrast between trees thriving in natural environments and those recently planted along urban thoroughfares. Street trees contend with narrow soil strips, low-quality soil, pollution from passing vehicles, and even root barriers to protect nearby structures – creating a challenging environment for growth. Recognising these challenges, offering urban trees ample support for optimal health and longevity, is imperative.

Let’s dive into best practices for planting, fertilising, and maintaining street trees to keep them in tip-top shape.


Choosing the right tree for the right spot is vital.

Consider the space available and whether the tree chosen might have a suitable mature height and spread. Does the form of the tree have a strong, single trunk, and is it free from dropping dangerous fruits or potentially slippery fruits and flowers? Consider the soil conditions and the need for soil ameliorants when planting. Potential obstructions might be present – plant trees with enough room for their roots to spread. Proper planting depth is crucial, and supporting the tree while the roots establish is critical. Regularly watering newly planted trees is essential for their establishment.


Street trees often face nutrient challenges in urban environments.

Fertilising can help compensate for nutrient deficiencies. Fertilising regimes can vary from location to location, but a balanced, slow-release fertiliser will provide a steady supply of nutrients. Be cautious not to over-fertilise, as this can harm the tree. Regular soil testing can guide the specific nutrient needs of your street trees. As trees age they may not need as much fertiliser, although this is speciesdependent, with some mature trees requiring fertilisation. For example, lagerstroemia and ulmus parvifolia can turn yellow in certain conditions if not fertilised.


Regular pruning is vital for street trees. Remove dead or damaged branches to encourage healthy growth. Light, frequent pruning to gently shape the tree is best, as it doesn’t encourage vigorous reshooting. Mulching around the base helps retain moisture and suppress weeds. Watering is crucial, especially during dry spells. Deep, infrequent watering encourages deep root growth, but water a few times a week during initial establishment. Look for signs of pests or diseases and take prompt action.

Arborgreen can help

By following these best practices we can ensure our street trees thrive, contributing to greener and healthier neighbourhoods for everyone to enjoy.

To learn more about how Arborgreen can help your urban planting and civil projects succeed, call 1300 760 642 or visit 

Image: Arborgreen


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