Trees in street median strip
Photo: E2 Design Lab

To help prioritise trees in our urban landscape, the Victorian Government has developed Trees for Cooler and Greener Streetscapes - Guidelines for Streetscape Planning and Design.

The guidelines contain technical advice and design solutions to prioritise and maintain healthy trees across all types of urban streetscapes and road corridors.

Download the guidelines

Data and mapping produced by the Victorian Government indicates that on average, Melbourne’s urban areas are over 8˚C hotter than non-urban areas.

Streets are typically ‘hardscapes’ (paved environments with limited greenery) that exacerbate the urban heat island effect, create excess stormwater runoff, and negatively impact human and ecological health due to a lack of trees and other vegetation.

Because urban streets have many different uses it can be challenging to plan and design streetscapes that prioritise trees. Trees compete for space with overhead powerlines, underground infrastructure, street furniture, and movement pathways and sightlines for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and public transport. Ensuring adequate irrigation can also be difficult without the right designs in place.

Despite these challenges, it is vital we maintain our urban trees and grow more to provide shade, cool the city and enable us to cope better in extreme heat.

Streetscapes represent a significant opportunity to increase tree canopy cover and cool our city.

Trees for Cooler and Greener Streetscapes – Guidelines for Streetscape Planning and Design will help councils, road project managers, and streetscape designers overcome the challenges associated with prioritising trees in streetscapes.

The guidelines include:

  • Guidance on strategic planning to prioritise trees in streets, create healthy growing conditions, and tailor design solutions to site conditions;
  • Solutions for common streetscapes including pedestrian zones, urban streets, neighbourhood zones, suburban and activity streets, boulevards, major thoroughfares and freeways; and
  • A design component catalogue to guide implementation.

The guidelines will help increase Melbourne’s tree canopy cover by enabling trees to be prioritised on urban streets and encouraging adequate growing conditions for tree health and longevity.

Five design principles for healthy growing conditions

Supporting places for trees

Good design adds to the character of the street and enhances its function and liveability.

Creating room to grow

Good design caters for the horticultural needs of the tree to allow it to reach full maturity and size.

Providing water

Good design provides water to a tree to support healthy growth, evapotranspiration for cooling, and can lead to improved stormwater outcomes.

Integrating urban infrastructure

Good design uses innovative thinking to integrate urban infrastructure that provides space for trees and enhances the functional role provided by trees.

Ensuring longevity

Good design anticipates the long-term outcomes and future needs of the street.

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Page last updated: 25/11/19