Street trees and nature strips in Strathfield

Strathfield is known for its distinctive streetscapes of street trees and wide grassed nature strips. Strathfield is easily identifable in aerial maps of Sydney by its streetscape and many parks.

The street tree program is over 100 years old.  In 1889 Strathfield Council received a government grant of over 800 pounds towards the cost of tree planting in the Municipal area for the NSW Government.  Ratepayers were notified that if they met one third of the cost the Council would plant trees in front of their property.  By 1890, eight kilometres of streets had been planted at a cost of about 5,000 pounds.  The first street planted was apparently The Boulevarde.  The street trees on The Boulevarde are distinctive as they are double planted on both sides of the footpath. Most early street trees are of the brush box variety.

The government subsidy ceased in 1893, but the Council continued its planting policy.  The value of this on-going program is still clearly evident today.

From the late 1880s, Council initiated a program of ‘boulevarding’ which included street tree planting, road widening, gas lighting in streets, public open spaces, building of footpaths, development of nature strips etc. The objective of early planning was to create pedestrian friendly streets, integrating footpaths and roads with accessibility to parks and facilities. Much of the distinctive character of the Strathfield district developed as a result of these early programs.

The postcard of Albert Road Strathfield illustrates the tree planting programs in early 20th century.

2 comments

  1. Often trees get blamed for damaging infrastructure. While it’s true that we should always aim to have the right tree in the right place it can be difficult to accommodate the needs of existing mature trees with adjoining infrastructure upgrades or housing developments. This may mean a turnover in the street tree population every 40 years or so rather than the 100 years or more along The Boulevarde. It may mean a large turnover of the street tree population in the next 10 – 20 years too. We may need to get used to the idea of planting next to existing trees with the thought that the existing tree will be gone in five years by which time the new tree will be established.

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    1. Also need to plan for replacement as trees have finite lifespans. It is amazing the survival of the trees as many were planted in a pre-car environment and have survived significant environmental impacts. They are truly the green lungs of Strathfield and add significantly to air quality, temperature cooling as well as aesthetics.

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