Planting in Street Tree Pits

Teens planting a tree

  • Perennials, annuals and bulbs are beautiful additions to a tree pit, as long as you remember that the tree’s health comes first.
  • Choose plants that require little watering. Key words to look for are “drought tolerant” and “xeric conditions”.
  • Use small plants and bulbs – large plants require large planting holes, which damage tree roots. In addition plants with large root systems compete with the tree for water and nutrients.
  • Do not add more then 2” of soil to your tree pit. Raising the soil level will harm the tree.
  • Mulching a tree pit is always good for your tree and plants. Mulch keeps the soil moist and prevents weeds from sprouting in tree pits.
  • NEVER PLANT! Bamboo, Ivy, Vines, Woody Shrubs, Evergreens. They are all major competitors for water and nutrients and can stunt or kill a tree.


Bulbs are a nice addition to greenstreets and tree pits, and are great for fall planting activities. Many Bulbs will return each spring, bringing color to your neighborhood. They are both affordable and easy to plant.

  • Crocus
  • Chinodoxia
  • Daffodil
  • Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis
  • Snow Drops Galanthus nivalis
  • Spanish Bluebells Hyacinthoides hispanica (Best in shade)
  • Lily of-the-Valley Convallaria magilis
  • Grape Hyacinth Muscari
  • Tulips tulipia

Plants for the Sun, Good for newly planted trees

Annuals (plants that live only one year):

  • Sweet Alyssum (Mat forming, small yellow or white flowers)
  • Dusty Miller – Senecio cinerara (Beautiful snow white and shiny silver color)
  • Licorice Plant HelichrysumMarigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Portulaca-Rock Rose, Moss Rose (Good drought tolerant plant)
  • Verbena
  • Geranium (An old standby that requires little water)
  • Scented Geranium (For leaf form, color and small flowers)
  • Salvia
  • Snapdragon
  • Heliotrope (Beautiful scent)
  • Cosmos (Dwarf – height 24”)
  • Ageratum (Low growing with small purple flowers)
  • Blue Marguerite Daisy
  • Lantana (A variety of unique flowers)
  • New Guinea Impatiens

Perennials (plants that live for more than one year):

  • Ox-eye Daisy chrysanthnum leucanthemum (Beautiful white flowers)
  • Bugleweed Ajuga reptans
  • Snow in Summer Cerastium tomemtosum
  • Lilyturf Liriope muscari
  • Sedum Sedum albuonor acre (Only low growing)
  • Thyme Thymus serpiphylluur or pseudolanugipsus (Mat forming varieties)

Plants for the Shade, Good for newly established trees


  • Begonia (Elegant flowers that come in a large variety)
  • Coleus (Variegated foliage, purple flowers)
  • Lobelia (Small edging plant)
  • Pansy (Some are winter hardy)
  • Viola Torenia (Looks like a small pansy)
  • Impatiens (Popular colorful flowers that will do well in your tree pit, sun or shade)
  • Monkey Flower Mimulus(A variety of colorful flowers)
  • Browallia (Fabulous blue color)
  • Fuchsia (Variety of species, most annuals bear a red tubular flower)


  • Elephant’s ears Bergenia cordifolia (Holds good winter color)
  • Coral Bells Heuchera
  • Spotted Deadnettle Lamium maculatum (Excellent groundcover)
  • Lilyturf Liriope muscari(evergreen)
  • Foam Flower Tiarella cordifolia(Vigorous groundcover with white upright flowers)
  • Periwinkle Vinca minor (Will fill your tree pit with greenery and small purple flowers)

Planting in Greenstreets

Greenstreets are individually crafted by our landscape designers. The plants are often chosen to balance one another both in appearance and horticultural health. If you would like to plant annuals and perennials in or augment the design of a greenstreet, please call us so that we can work together and choose the best possible plants for your site.

Caring for Street Trees & Greenstreets

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