City Provides Parkway Planting Tips

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Friday, August 24, 2012, 9:17 pm
Alice Dreger

We thought it would be helpful to follow up our article on "Planting Your Parkway" with answers to common questions about parkways (the green strip commonly found in East Lansing between the sidewalk and the curb). For these, we turned to Todd Sneathen, Director of Public Works for the City of East Lansing.

Sneathen confirmed that the city has rights to the parkway but that property owners are responsible for basic upkeep of the parkways in front of their properties. Property owners can plant flowers in the parkway if they want, although they should keep in mind that occasionally somebody has to dig in the parkway for things like electrical, gas, or water lines.

Some of the trees you'll see in parkways have been planted by the city, and some have been planted by homeowners. In the spring and fall, when funding permits you may see City workers planting trees to replace removed trees. The city follows the "Right Tree, Right Place" philosophy of planting. The idea is not only to pick a tree that will thrive, but also to pick one whose thriving will not damage sidewalks and curbs and will not cause problems for utilities.

If you want to plant a tree in your parkway, you should contact the Department of Public Works (517-337-9459). DPW will arrange a site visit to talk about what tree type will work for your parkway.

Regardless of what they're planting, property owners should keep in mind that parkway plantings cannot obstruct drivers' views of roads. So, for example, if you live on a corner lot, you need to be careful to keep the parkway planting low enough that drivers can see traffic coming from around the corners.

Finally, it's best to be realistic about the soil in the parkway. It is likely to include sand, salt, and exhaust dust from the roads. Not to mention occasionally debris from canines. That's why zinnias, nasturtiums, and other tough annuals make the best choices if you want something other than grass. (Not a good idea to plant anything you plan to eat.)

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