Urban forestry is an essential piece to NMRWA’s mission. We make positive impacts to the watershed’s urban forest through annual tree plantings and care for sustainability in the long term, community education and volunteer opportunities to connect residents with watershed trees, and borough collaboration and education for policies that improve management.
Native Trees vs. Non-Native Trees
Native trees and shrubs should be favored in planting when possible, but the urban landscape presents some very unnatural growing conditions. Along with some native trees, non-native trees are often planted along streets because of the unique challenges presented such as limited root space, polluted soils, and limited water supply while our region’s native species are incorporated in restoration sites or rain gardens.
There are 133 species and subspecies of deciduous and evergreen trees native to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Planting native species provides many ecological benefits which introduced plants may not provide. Native trees are also often more adaptable to natural environments, and can have greater resistance to droughts, insects, and diseases once they are established on site.
Some examples of native trees are below. Consider planting a sweetgum for beautiful fall color. Tulip poplar trees are beautiful flowering trees, but they grow to 75-90 feet, so be sure that you have enough space before planting one. If you’re looking for a smaller option, witch hazel and Eastern redbud are small species that do well in this area.
Innovative Sidewalk Solutions
One of the biggest concerns property owners have when considering a street tree is how the tree will affect their sidewalk. All the trees we plant in the watershed are either given at least 30 square feet surface area or are planted to the rear of the sidewalk. These trees not only has more space for roots and resources, but it also avoids sidewalk lift to the degree currently seen or all together.
But, what about mature trees that are already outgrowing their tree pits and lifting up sidewalks? Since these large trees represent huge boons to the management of stormwater in the watershed, Nine Mile Run is concerned with their continued health, especially when the sidewalks around them need to be repaired to ensure the safety of watershed residents.
NMRWA has recently installed three demonstration projects in Wilkinsburg representing options for tree root friendly sidewalk repair. They are listed in more detail below. If you’re interested in checking out these three projects and discussing the feasibility of them at your site, feel free to contact our Urban Forestry Manager, Jared Manzo, at 412.371.8779 x 116 or .
Available locally through Bryan Materials Group
Demonstration site: the intersection of S Trenton Ave and Biddle Ave (across from Biddle’s Escape)
Modeled after work completed at multiple sites in Pottstown, PA
Demonstration site: Rebecca Ave near West St
Removing impervious surfaces from around a tree provides it with more space from which to gain nutrients and promotes root growth without lifting or damaging sidewalks.
Demonstration site: Wood St between Franklin Ave and South Ave