How To Plant
Street trees provide many benefits beyond beautification of our neighborhoods and city. They can reduce cooling costs in summer, improve property values, attract residents and businesses, and revitalize communities. Contact the Delaware Center for Horticulture to learn more about the many benefits of urban trees and to get involved with your own neighborhood street tree project, for further recommendations.
There are several things to remember before planting:
- The approval of a Wilmington Street Tree Permit is required before planting any tree in the public right-of-way (generally determined as between the sidewalk and the curb, in a tree lawn, grass strip or tree pit in sidewalk). According to the Wilmington City Code, Chapter 46 (Vegetation), street tree maintenance is the responsibility of the respective property owner. Contact the Delaware Center for Horticulture or the Wilmington Department of Parks & Recreation for more information.
- The selection of an appropriate street tree is essential to its success. Criteria such as soil space, underground or overhead utilities, sidewalk and curbing considerations, ultimate size, tolerance of urban conditions, and general species information must be considered before selecting a street tree for planting. Proper care during establishment of a young tree is also crucial and can reduce the need for costly maintenance in the future.
- Consult DCH’s list of Recommended Urban Trees. Many popular trees do not appear on this list for a variety of reasons. The Delaware Center for Horticulture does NOT recommend nor approve the planting of Callery pear cultivars (Pyrus calleryana, e.g. Bradford) due to overuse, fruit litter, and structural problems. Other popular trees do not appear on this list due to the propensity for insect and disease problems (purple-leaf plum, Prunus cerasifera), or due to intolerance of urban conditions (Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, and flowering dogwood, Cornus florida). Some recommendations of this list are based on information specific to the City of Wilmington based on a street tree inventory completed in 2002.
- DCH receives many complaints about tree roots damaging sidewalks. By planting an appropriate tree for a given space, this can be greatly reduced. No tree is guaranteed to avoid conflicts with surrounding areas; in fact, the roots of most trees grow solely within the top 12-18” of surface soil. Watering deeply and maximizing soil space can discourage surface roots.