Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Street Trees: Parkway Dos and Don’ts

Parkway Tree Dos and Dont's - Don't plant under the tree, Do leave mulch and organic material. Don't let weeds choke the tree, Do clear a well and cultivate soil regularly
Parkway Tree Dos and Don’ts (from left to right) Don’t plant under the tree. Do clear a well and cultivate soil regularly. Don’t let weeds choke the tree. Do leave mulch and organic material.

It seems not an hour goes by there isn’t another story in the news about the drought facing the state and the need to remove our lawns or let them go brown. But what about that small section of grassy area between the sidewalk and the street know as the parkway?

Though the parkway is technically city property, homeowners are responsible for parkway trees. The parkway is the unifying section between the public street and the private front garden and requires special consideration as a result.  The parkways is also home to our precious neighborhood street trees that we want to make sure survive the drought.

Mulch is healther environment for trees and looks more stately.
Mulch is healther environment for trees and looks more stately.


Did you know that matching trees in a parkway increase the beauty and the value of a home?  If you don’t have a set of trees – consider planting them. The trees in our back yards, on our streets, and in our parks provide a cleaner, cooler environment. They also remove carbon dioxide from the air and produce life supporting oxygen, give us shade and help clean the air by trapping dust and pollen. Trees help reduce storm water run-off and help prevent soil erosion. They also help reduce urban noise pollution by acting as sound barriers, and provide homes for birds and wildlife. What’s not to like about trees?

Here are some quick tips drawn from the Buzz Street Tree series by Devon O’Brien with Scott Goldstein and the Windsor Square Association’s Tree Information Packet, which is a thorough guide to planting,  trimming, and caring for the trees in your parkway.



  • Keep the ground at the base of the tree clear of weeds and other plants and cultivate the soil regularly. This allows the trees to breathe and reduce the likelihood of rot and disease.
  • It’s always best to avoid underplanting  around the base of the tree especially if the plants require more water than the tree, you will be creating and ideal environment for root rot as well as wasting water.
  • Trees appear much more majestic in a simple base of mulch which also feeds the tree as the organic material decomposes. Remember you are trying to replicate the forest environment.
Avoid bedding plants at the base of trees.
Avoid bedding plants at the base of trees.


Next we’ll explore alternatives to grass in the parkway.

 Larchmont Buzz: Street Trees Part 1, A Brief History

Larchmont Buzz: Street Trees Part 2,The Oaks

Larchmont Buzz: Street Trees Part 3, the Sycamore

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. Parkways are critical to protecting polluted runoff (e.g. toxic fertilizers, auto petroleum products, etc.) from reaching our streets and getting into storm drains. Storm drains carry untreated water (usually from rain) directly to the ocean and impact the health of the ecosystems there. In urban environments, parkways are often the only outlet / inlet to the soil of the earth. When properly developed and managed, they provide some filtration of the above-mentioned and other human imposed pollutants before they run deeper into groundwater. Here’s more information from the City / Tree People:


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