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QUESTION: The entry to our neighborhood has a median strip about 3 to 4 feet wide (I'm not sure how long but long). The builder had planted flowering trees, all but one has died and I think that one is on its way out. I'm guessing the space is too small for the trees and/or their roots.  Right now there is one tree and some tulips and that is it. What plant or plants can be put in there that will work and enhance the curb appeal of the entry to the neighborhood? Since it's a median strip, nothing too high. The trees were fine since they were spaced far enough apart to see through them. Probably need low maintenance plants and possibly drought resistance. We are in zone 7.

ANSWER: Hello,

Use a visibility triangle. The apex is typically 50 feet from the intersection and then the sides of the triangle extend out about 50 to 200 feet. Any low plants in this area should not exceed a height of 2 feet 6 inches. High branched street trees may be used in the area if not too closely spaced. Keep the spacing about 10 to 12 feet apart.

Consider planting a low shrub mass and/or ornamental grass in combination with street trees. Consult with someone knowledgeable about trees and the soil conditions there. The spacing sounds adequate for street trees. There could be many reasons why the trees died. Examples of drought resistant street trees would include:

green ash

hedge maple

golden rain tree

callery pear

amur maple

Juniper and yew are examples of drought resistant shrubs. Good luck.

Mark Harshman

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: With the triangle idea, just to clarify, the median strip is long and skinny (3 to 4 feet across or wide), so I'm not sure what you mean about the triangle idea. This strip separates the road coming into the neighborhood with the outgoing road and it not very wide.  I LOVE the golden rain tree idea. I think that might work.

Visibility Triangle
Visibility Triangle  

The visibility triangle applies to intersections.  Perhaps I misunderstood and there is no intersection but you mentioned not wanting the plants too high and mention another road involved. If there is no intersection then I see no reason for height restrictions. You cant have plants too high at the corners of intersections because they will block the view of oncoming traffic from drivers who are turning from one road to the other. A certain distance measured down one side of the corner makes the first leg of the triangle and then a certain distanced measured down the other side makes the second leg. The third line is the hypotenuse. This is similarly done on the other corner and the lines of the two hypotenuse when extended until they meet will determine an area of clear visibility for drivers in the intersection. For the type of divided road you have mentioned,the triangle may have to extend out 250 feet on the drivers side of the intersection.

All plants and objects exceeding a height of 2 feet 6 inches must be kept out of the area defined by the triangle.

Mark Harshman  

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Design of landscape structures and design of planting arrangements in the landscape. I usually do not answer questions of a horticultural nature or about growing plants or gardening unless they are related to design. I will answer these questions at my discretion. I will answer maintenance questions at my discretion,usually when they are related to design. I am a landscape designer. I am not a contractor or a gardener. Although I will describe how something is built I do not provide detailed installation or construction instructions. Here are example categories of problems I can help you with: Design of residential walks,low walls,low retaining walls,fences,drainage systems,arbors,plant selection,xeriscapes (low water use landscapes),rain garden design,rain water harvesting,permeable paving,sustainable drainage. No advise on an architectural or engineering level. I DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DESIGN WORK THROUGH THIS SITE. I only provide suggestions and advice. For more comprehensive help check out my website at:


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