We know what you’re thinking – “any tree is fine for a parking lot, so long as it provides some shade.” Right? Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case. While it’s probably one of the most common conclusions to jump to, not all trees are big, strong, and created equally, in fact, some trees are a lot tougher, sturdier, and versatile than others, and those elements can make a world of difference, especially when you’re seeking out the perfect tree for a parking lot or a concrete, paved area.
Why does this matter? Well, growing a tree – maintaining its health and keeping it strong for years – is no easy task, especially not in Florida. Think about it. Pavement and parking lots don’t provide a lot of ideal growing conditions. There’s heat. There’s drought. There’s compaction. There’s heat. There’s salt. Did we mention heat?
While there’s dozens upon dozens of benefits for having trees in parking lots or paved areas, there are very few trees that can stand up to the job. That being said, there are a few rough-and-tumble trees that are absolutely ideal for parking lot conditions. Having trees in your paved area or parking lot can break up a big expanse of pavement, making your paved area a little more aesthetically pleasing. More than that, it can provide you with shade, add oxygen to the environment, reduce storm water draining problems, buffer noise, and play an important role in soil erosion prevention. The benefits seem relatively endless. The only problem? The trees you choose have to be ridiculously tough.
Over the years, the Landcrafters folks have put together a list of tried-and-true trees that make the most sense in Florida pavement places, parking lots, and more, and today is your lucky day, because we’ve laid it all out for you here! Check out a few of our favorite reasons to plant trees in paved areas, what kind of trees you should look into, and more!
Our Top Five Florida Trees for Parking Lot Paradise
Before we dive into our list, let’s talk first about what makes a tree parking-lot friendly to begin with. You need a tree that can handle the salt and the heat that go hand-in-hand with parking lots and pavement. It has to be able to deal with drought and compaction without issue, and it probably shouldn’t be an over-flowering or over-fruiting tree – it’s not too big of a deal if it is but consider all the mess and smells that could go along with this. You could be picking up fallen fruit for an entire season or dealing with customer complaints about produce messes on their cars. That might narrow down the list a bit, but not entirely.
Let’s check out some of our favorite Florida parking lot trees.
A classic Florida favorite with a tropical feel, palm trees are surprisingly durable when it comes to parking lot planting. Though we do suggest using palm trees simply as accent trees among your other tree choices, it’s hard to deny the classic look of a Palm in a Florida parking lot. These trees are pretty tough, do well with drought once they’re established, and can typically withstand salty and hot conditions. Besides, nothing says “welcome to our beach town business” like a parking lot full o’ palms. Download our free E-book and learn about some of the best Florida-friendly palm trees you can introduce to your landscape.
With a narrow canopy and the uncanny ability to grow in limited soil space, this gorgeous, evergreen tree is ideal for parking lot islands and small landscapes. Reaching up to 20 feet tall, this slow-to-moderate-growth beauty will need some special attention when it’s first planted, but once it’s established in its new home, it will grow to be incredibly drought tolerant (a perfect pick for a dry, hot, and water-less spot in Florida).
The Florida Elm, though strong and mighty, surprisingly makes for a suitable parking lot or paved area tree. Elms are incredibly salt tolerant, making them a strong pick for a parking lot, and they also happen to be disease-resistant cultivars, another added bonus for parking lot growth. The Florida Elm is also surprisingly drought-resistant, which is great for those hot, Florida days when the rain can’t get to it.
Not only are these trees wonderful choices for their jaw-dropping beauty, they’re also surprisingly durable. We know, we know, with their droopy flower clusters and twisty vines, they look pretty fragile, but crape myrtles are heat-loving trees that do their best growing in paved areas where the sun reflects off the pavement. Once these gorgeous trees are established, they’re able to withstand drought and can live long lives free of diseases and insects.
You probably didn’t think that Red Maple could grow in Florida, when in fact, it’s a horticulture’s favorite for adding in pops of color! This is a common deciduous tree choice in eastern and central north America, but not so common in Florida. That being said, they can grow beautifully almost anywhere! These awesome trees can grow in swamps (sounds like Florida) in the poorest, dry soil (sounds like Florida) and in parking lot gardens (also sounds like Florida). These hardy trees are great pavement paradise choices.
Challenges Your Parking Lot Tree Must Face
There’s going to be growing issues for any kind of flora or fauna in urban areas, but it can be exceptionally difficult to try to maintain the health of a big, strong tree in your parking lot area. Consider for a second just what exactly pavement is. Parking lot construction typically starts with removing top-soil, so they can lay down crushed stone, asphalt, and concrete. After its spread and compacted, it’s pretty impossible for any of that topsoil or nutritious dirt to come back. This means that the soil mix that’s under the pavement is going to be lacking all kinds of oxygen and nutrients.
You’ll be dealing with excess heat, too. We already face a super-hot climate, but any Floridian knows that the hottest place on earth is a Florida parking lot in the summer time. Consider that time you forgot shoes and ran across the pavement to get to your car – we bet your toes didn’t feel normal for a week. That’s because the sun absolutely bakes the pavement, making it incredibly hot and hard to deal with – this dramatically affects the plants, flowers, and trees that are in the parking lot and paved areas.
More than that, you’ll be dealing with a severe lack of water. Because paved surfaces are professional engineered to shed water (which is great for parking lots, but bad for trees), you can guarantee that your poor tree is going to be feeling some kind of way about the parking lot drought life it’ll have to endure. This means that the pavement will likely shed water in directions that will deprive your trees of soil moisture and potentially leave their roots submerged in excess water.
Did you enjoy reading up on the best trees for your paved areas and parking lots? We hope you found our advice helpful. If you’re interested in reading up on more of our tried-and-true methods, experiences, or tips and tricks, check out our blog! Want to talk to us directly? We hope you do! Give us a call at (727)-201-3947. We can’t wait to chat with you!
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