Street Trees

The initiative Street Trees relates to the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) Initiative 4, Creating Attractive and Desirable Places. According to the MAP, improving the quality of place throughout the city is an essential task in moving forward, including improving infrastructure quality. Specifically, this initiative relates to the MAP Action 2, Develop and implement a sidewalk and recreational paths plan. This action involves an improvement program for sidewalks and the adoption of a Complete Streets Policy. While tree lawns and street trees may not have anything directly to do with sidewalks, they are very much a part of complete streets. Complete streets are streets that are designed to allow for safe travel by those walking, bicycling, riding public transportation, or driving automobiles. The presence of tree lawns and street trees improves pedestrian safety, which is a vital part of any complete streets design.

Why this is important

This initiative was formed at the first Industry Neighborhood Association meeting. Street trees were thought to be of importance to Industry because of the many benefits that they can provide to a neighborhood, including pedestrian safety and stormwater management. Many of the streets in the neighborhood already have existing tree lawns that are suitable for street tree plantings. See the Street Tree Suitability Map for more details about existing suitable tree lawns in the neighborhood.

This initiative was given a medium priority level by the residents and students. Street trees are important for Industry because street trees benefit neighborhoods in more ways than just aesthetics. Street trees also manage stormwater, reduce traffic noise, improve air quality, provide shade and relief from the heat, improve pedestrian safety, and increase nearby property values. Overall, street trees serve to complete the streetscape and beautify the neighborhood.

An illustration of a street tree and tree lawn. Source: Brock Goodwin

An illustration of a street tree and tree lawn. Source: Brock Goodwin

What this will involve

Trees can be planted in two primary spaces: the tree lawns and private properties. Tree lawns are the areas of grass and soil between the street and sidewalk that are sometimes present. These areas are considered part of the public right-of-way and property of the City. Private property are the private yards and parcels of land belonging to residents and typically extend up to the sidewalks.

Before planting any new trees in either of these areas, community members should contact the Muncie Urban Forestry Office for assistance. Trees can be planted in the tree lawns (if deemed suitable) or on private property at minimum of four feet from the sidewalk. Refer to the street tree planting options and Street Tree Suitability map below to see what category of trees can be planted in each recorded tree lawn in the neighborhood.

For private property, any size tree can be planted adjacent to the sidewalk as long as there is not a power line overhead and enough room is around the tree to allow for proper growth. If a power line is present, then only small trees can be planted underneath. Trees cannot be planted less than 50 feet away from street corners, 15 feet away from fire hydrants, or 5 feet from underground utility lines, and must maintain a certain distance between each tree (15 feet for small trees, 25 feet for medium trees, and 35 feet for large trees). These minimum distances ensure that the trees have enough room for their roots and canopies to grow without interfering with any utilities, streets, or other trees.

A diagram for neighborhood tree placement. Source: Muncie Urban Forestry Office

This diagram shows the placements and uses of the three different sizes of street trees. Image Source: Muncie Urban Forestry Office

Listed below are recommendations from the Muncie Urban Forestry Office of tree types for three different widths of tree lawns.

Tree lawns 4 – 6 feet wide, and any areas underneath power lines

Small trees < 25 feet tall
Recommended: Autumn Brilliance and Trazam Serviceberry; Flowering Crabapple; Japanese Tree Lilac; Winter King, lavelle, Cuzam, and Thornless Hawthorn

Tree lawns 6 – 8 feet wide

Medium trees < 50 feet tall
Recommended: Heritage® and Dura-Heat™ Riverbirch; Aristocrat, Chanticleer, and Autumn Blaze Ornamental Pear; Red Sunset®, Pacific Sunset®, and October Glory® Red Maple; Imperial® and Shademaster® Thornless Honeylocust

Tree lawns 8+ feet wide

Large trees 50+ feet tall
Recommended: Autumn Gold and Princeton Sentry® Ginko; Green Mountain®, Freeman, Autumn Blaze®, and Legacy Sugar Maple; Greenspire and Glenleven Littleleaf Linden; Northern Red, English, Skymaster™, and Westminster Globe™ Oak; Redmond and Wandell Basswood

Extended list of trees native to Indiana:

American Beech; American Basswood; American Chestnut; American Hornbeam; American Plum; American Sycamore; Bald Cypress; Biternut, Pignut, Shagbark, and Shellbark Hickory; Black, Burr, Chestnut, Chinquapin, Pin, Northern Red, Swamp White, Shingle, Shumard, Overcup, Northern Pin, Scarlet, and White Oak; Black and Pin Cherry; Black and White Walnut; Black Willow; Cucumber and Umbrella Magnolia; Downy Hawthorn; Downy Serviceberry; Eastern and Swamp Cottonwood; Eastern Hemlock; Eastern Redbud; Eastern Red Cedar; Flowering Dogwood; Hackberry; Honey or Black Locust; Ironwood; Jack, Virginia, Eastern, and White Pine; Kentucky Coffeetree; Large Tooth and Quaking Aspen; Northern Catalpa; Ohio and Yellow Buckeye; Paw Paw; Pecan; Persimmon; River, Paper, and Yellow Birch; Red Mulberry; Red, Silver, Black, and Sugar Maple; Sassafras; Slippery, American, Rock, and Winged Elm; Sweetgum; Tuliptree; Yellowwood

Prohibited street trees in Muncie:

Arborvitae, Ash, Aspen, Boxelder Maple, Bradford Pear, Buckthorn, Cottonwood, Siberian (Chinese) Elm, Fir, Juniper, Mulberry, Osage Orange, Pine, Poplar, Russian Olive, Silver Maple, Tree of Heaven, Weeping Willow

For more information about any of these tree species, contact the Muncie Urban Forestry Office.

Contact information for funding/assistance sources

Muncie Urban Forestry Office
Muncie Parks Department
1800 South Grant Street
Muncie, Indiana  47302
Phone:     (765) 747-4858
Contact:   Kellie McClellan, Urban Forester

Department of Community Development
Muncie City Hall
300 North High Street
Muncie, Indiana  47305
Phone:     (765) 747-4825
Contact:   Terry Whitt Bailey, Director

Suitability analysis

The Street Tree Suitability Map shows what tree lawns in the Industry neighborhood are suitable for street trees. The width of the tree lawn (as described above) determines what size of street tree can be planted. Most of the streets in the neighborhood have existing tree lawns, but not many of these tree lawns are wide enough for street trees (at least 4 feet). The map indicates which of these tree lawns are suitable for small, medium, and large street trees and which tree lawns are not suitable for any trees. Most of the suitable tree lawns are wide enough for small trees, and a few are even wide enough for medium and large trees. Trees can also be planted on private property, such as a homeowner’s front yard. Trees planted on private property must be at least 4 feet from the sidewalk. Tree size is dependent upon the nearby surroundings, such as the presence of overhead powerlines. Suitable private property is not indicated on the Street Tree Suitability Map.

Suitability analysis for street trees in the Industry neighborhood. Image Source: Brock Goodwin

Case study

Providence Neighborhood Planting Program
Providence, Rhode Island

The Providence Neighborhood Planting Program was established in 1988 as a partnership between the City of Providence, Rhode Island and a local endowment for street trees. In order to have trees planted along a street, an application must be submitted, in which at least five properties are requesting at least one tree each. Permission must be obtained from each property owner to plant the tree, and each property owner must take care of the tree. The program provides funding for tree, soil, sidewalk preparation, and tree delivery at no cost to residents. Individuals are responsible for submitting applications, planting trees, and maintaining the trees. The program also leads Planting Days. The events are organized by citizens, but utilize the resources of the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program, such as training, preparation, and trees. Over 25 years, the program has planting over 10,000 trees in Providence.


Volunteers plant trees as part of the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program.

Volunteers plant trees as part of the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program. Image Source

Additional websites of interest

Muncie Urban Forestry Office
City of Muncie

Trees in the City: A Homeowner’s Guide to Planning, Planting, and Pruning Trees
Muncie Urban Forestry Office

City of Muncie Tree Ordinance
City of Muncie

Tree Benefit Calculator
The Arbor Day Foundation

Benefits of Trees
International Society of Arboriculture

Benefits of Trees and Urban Forests

Tree Research Archive


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