Help trees, shrubs and people co-exist
Trees and shrubs provide tremendous benefits to people who walk. But if they’re located too close to sidewalks, they also create problems.
Ask people to locate trees and plants where they belong — and to choose the right kind.
If your neighbors are about to plant trees or shrubs near a sidewalk, please ask them to consider how big they’ll be decades later. If you live in Atlanta, you’re familiar with bulging tree roots and uplifted sidewalks. Setting trees further back from the sidewalk will keep this problem from getting even worse. Doing so also promotes healthy tree growth.
Wonder what trees should be planted where? Athens-Clark County’s Technical Guide to Tree Conservation provides great recommendations. For example:
The best trees for road frontage areas include crape myrtles, dogwoods, maples, redbuds and serviceberries Trees to avoid include fruit and nut trees, mulberries, and oaks.
Trim the shrubs. Prune the trees. And ask others to do the same.
Few things are more annoying to people who walk than overgrown shrubs that force them to walk in the street.
If you encounter overgrown shrubs, especially prickly ones–ask neighbors to trim them. A newly-planted bush may seem fine during its first few years. But later, it may force people to walk single file or avoid the sidewalk altogether.
The Americans with Disability Act — and common courtesy –call for at least 7 feet of vertical clear space above sidewalks. Anything below that puts people at risk of whacking their head. In addition to the area above the entire sidewalk, people need 6 inches of elbow room.
If needed, do it yourself.
On your part, tactical urbanism – a buzzword for cheap, temporary changes that improve our streets and communities — is a great way to make a difference.
We checked with Atlanta’s Public Works officials. Anything intruding into sidewalk space is considered public property.
Organize a neighborhood volunteer day focused on trimming shrubs and pruning trees. Notify neighbors in two weeks at advance to give people the m the option of trimming shrubs and pruning trees. At locations where problems remain, have at it.