Trees for Avenues

Tree planted to line an avenue, traditionally a straight path or road with trees running along each side, is a customary way to emphasize the coming to or arrival at a landscape or architectural feature. Avenues of trees are some of the most strikingly important structural plantings to be found in designed landscapes.

Lime Tree avenues have a long history in Britain, mentioned in written journals such as John Evelyn, who wrote “Discourse of Forest Trees”, noting in his 1662 journal that “Hampton Court is as noble and uniforme a pile …planted with sweete rows of limetrees, and the Canale for Water neere perfected“. When they were laid out, these avenues emphasised the hierarchical power of their owners.

Extract from: “The diary of John Evelyn”, edited by E S de Beer, Vol Ill, p324 (Oxford, 1955)

In most cases, the trees planted in an avenue will be all of the same species or cultivar, so as to give formal and uniform appearance along the full length of the avenue. They can be planted in double rows on each side of a road. The following is a suggested list of trees that are ideal for this form of landscaping due to their height and speed of growth. Other trees can work for this type of planting, if you are interested in other aesthetical features such as naturalistic, ornamental or shade trees, please ask just ask us.

Examples of Trees For Avenue

1. Carpinus betulus Fastigiate Hornbeam

Fastigiate Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) in summer
Carpinus betulus Fastigiata Hornbeam
Fastigiate Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

This popular deciduous tree starts out with a narrow pyramidal crown which eventually ends up as a wide ovoid. It has a very compact and closed crown with a strictly vertical trunk. The leaves are a fresh green colour in spring and turn golden yellow in the autumn. Carpinus can be planted in sun to shade on all soil types. Mature height,15-18 metres with a spread of 12-15m.

2. Liquidambar styraciflua / Sweet gum

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) 18-20 girth
Autumn leaf colours of Sweetgum (Liquidambar)

This medium size deciduuos tree has a slender conical crown which spread as the tree matures. The leaves are maple-like 5 or 7 lobed and are best known for their intense autumn colours which give a stunning display wine-red with yellow, orange and violet and all kinds of shades. If planted on a humid site the leaves turn more violet. Liquidambar requires a position in full sun on fresh to moist soil. Mature height 25-30 metres with a spread of 4-8m.

3. Platanus hispanica / London Plane

Platanus acerifolia
Platanus hispanica

Platanus acerifolia / Platanus hispanica is a magnificent, large deciduous tree with beautiful flaking grey and cream bark,  It has large leaves, starting green in the spring and turning to golden brown in autumn. The London Plane is long-lived and hardy, not demanding, it will thrive in most soils and  can be positioned in sun or light shade.  Mature  height 25-30ms with a spread of 15-25m.

4. Quercus palustris / Pin Oak / Swamp Oak

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) in autumn leaf
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) Box Head Tree

The Pin Oak is a large deciduous tree with a dense, pyramidal crown. The delicate leaves are characteristically Oak lobed. In the autumn time, the brilliant lime green turns a beautiful range of scarlet. Quercus palustris is relatively tough, withstanding a range of soil conditions, including some limited exposure to water logging, though best on free draining, slightly acidic soil. This tree takes well to pruning and is also available as a Box Head Tree. Mature height 20-25 metres with a spread of 10-15m.

5. Tilia / lime

Large-leaved Linden (Tilia platyphyllos)
Lime (Tilia cordata) small leaved lime
Silver Lime (Tilia tomentosa)
Crimean Lime (Tilia x euchlora)
Avenue of 50 cm Lime (Tilia cordata)

Tilia or lime trees are the ideal tree to create a classic avenue and we have several species that will be suitable:

• Tilia platyphyllos / broad or large leaved lime: A stately, large leaved Lime tree with luscious foliage, which gives the tree a healthy appearance all year round.

• Tilia cordata / small leaved lime: A  small-leaved Lime which produces fragrant white flowers in mid-summer and is a good tree for attracting bees, in addition to the yellow leaf colour in autumn.

• Tilia tomentosa / silver lime: Large dark green leaves have a silvery-white underside, which move attractively in a breeze.  Fragrant white flowers in mid-summer and glorious yellow leaf colour in autumn.

• Tilia euchlora / crimean linden: A conical crown and large dark green leaves with fragrant creamy yellow flowers in late spring followed by bright yellow/orange autumnal colour.

• Tilia x europaea ‘Pallida’ / common lime: Pyramidal habit with light green lush leaves, turning in golden yellow and orange in autumn with fragrant spring flowers.

6. Fagus sylvatica / Beech

Beech tree-lined road Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Orange-copper leaves in autumn

The beautiful Common Beech can make a majestic avenue tree.  Its fresh green spring leaves become a stunning orange-copper in autumn, browning through the winter where they often stay attached until spring. A large tree, maturing over 20m high.

7. Taxus baccata / English Yew

Clear-stemmed yew trees, Taxus baccata

Clear-stemmed yew trees, Taxus baccata

The English Yew is a classic tree with a conical shape and can make a gracefully, long-lived avenue. The leaves are small and dark green, needle-like in shape and grow out of spiralling branches.  Yew is happy to be clipped and shaped to keep it neat, or to create topiary.