Is your Kentucky parking lot is lacking nice, shaded spaces—the spots drivers seek out? Creating shaded areas in your parking lot will please the people who leave cars on your commercial property, plus the right trees will bring important environmental benefits to your commercial property. Trees can work to counteract the urban heat island effect that parking lots create because they help regulate higher temperatures from asphalt.
But, not all trees are parking lot material.
When selecting trees for your parking lot, there are several important characteristics to consider.
- Is the tree self-pruning? We’re talking about trees that naturally drop branches—and they’re not an ideal pick for parking lot settings.
- Does the tree produce fruit? No one wants to find stains on their vehicle, and facility managers won’t want to clean up a parking lot full of messy fruit.
- Does the tree have shallow roots? Shallow, surface roots can cause asphalt and pavement to heave and crack. You’ll wind up with costly parking lot maintenance if you plant a tree that breaks up the surface.
- Will the tree tolerate drought conditions? Parking lot conditions are so stressful on plants that some trees will start their fall color as much as one month earlier than their counterparts planted in open, grassy areas. Parking lots tend to be 5 to 10 degrees hotter than other areas on your commercial property. So, choose trees that can stand the heat. Avoid species like red maple, tulip poplar and honey locust. (Unfortunately, we do see a lot of these tree species planted near parking lots, and this is not a setting where they’ll thrive.)
- The good news is, there are several trees that grow strong in Kentucky and thrive in parking lot settings. These trees provide important shade benefits, while enhancing the beauty of your parking lot and contributing in a positive way to the environment. Here are three trees to plant near your parking lot.
#1 Kentucky Coffeetree
There’s a reason why this was the state tree at one time. The Kentucky Coffeetree grows strong here. It is deep-rooted, drought-tolerant and fast-growing so you’ll achieve full coverage quickly after planting. You won’t have to worry about asphalt and pavement heaving/cracks because Kentucky Coffeetree grows deep. It can also stand the heat and pollutants from parking lots and vehicles. The Kentucky Coffeetree has interesting bark, making it a visually appealing ornamental that functions as a strong-growing shade tree for parking areas. (We usually suggest the fruitless variety to avoid messy pods.) It will grow 50 to 70 feet tall with a spread of about 40 to 50 feet.
#2 Ginkgo Tree
The fan-shaped leaves of Ginkgo trees turn gold in fall, and this ancient tree is a die-hard as a drought-tolerant selection for your Kentucky parking lot. It also resists pests, including gypsy moth. Ginkgo will grow 50 to 80 feet tall, and spread 30 to 40 feet wide. So you’ll get nice coverage from this resilient tree, and a sunny kick of color come autumn.
#3 White Oak Tree
We generally choose white oaks trees rather than red oaks for parking lots. White oaks are more heat-tolerant, which is important for growing a healthy tree by asphalt and pavement. The white oak is named for its ash-colored bark, and it develops deep roots and strong, widespread branches that provide shade. The white oak is a native tree of Kentucky. You can expect it to grow 50 to 80 feet with a spread of 50 to 80 feet once mature.
Right Plant, Right Place: Selecting Hardy Trees For Your Kentucky Landscape
Planting trees is an investment, so you want to choose trees that will grow strong on your Kentucky property so they’ll last beyond a lifetime. Every property has “microclimates”—areas that are hotter, drier, windier, wetter. When selecting any plant, it’s important to consider the immediate environment and how those conditions will impact its growth and health. Parking lots require trees that can withstand heat and pollution. They should grow deep and “keep it clean” in terms of shedding branches or fruit.
Let’s talk more about selecting the right trees for your Kentucky commercial property, including your parking lot areas. Contact us any time at 859-254-0762, or fill out this simple form and we’ll get in touch with you.