Trees for avenues and near buildings

trees next to buildings

There are many things to consider when planting trees next to buildings and along roads or avenues. This is a non-exhaustive list of tree species that I recommend for our region (Auroville, India) in the typical laterite or black cotton soil. This is an evolving list.

General species selection criteria:

  • Not prone to structural failure
  • Drought resistant
  • No dangerous fruit (falling risk-wise and also poisonous plants taken into account)
  • Ideally with interesting features (bark, leaves, flowers, shape, fruit etc…)
  • No buttress or superficial roots (surface roots that would disturb pavement, hinder traffic)
  • Little mess in terms of fruits, flowers, foliage (apart from fruit trees)
  • Important for local ecology

Large evergreen trees to be used as shade for houses or avenues

Medium evergreen trees to shade houses and smaller roads

Evergreen fruit trees and shrubs

  • Mango tree, Mangifera indica
  • Jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophylla
  • Jamun, Syzygium cumini
  • Pitanga Berry, Eugenia uniflora

More ornamental trees (deciduous)

Shrubs (evergreen)

Please add comments to this list directly or in the more exhaustive spreadsheet. I am especially looking for more recommendations as the more diversity, the better.

Link to spreadsheet

In essence, it is better to plant for the long term to avoid conflicts between trees and buildings.

Thank you,


Effects of Trees in Urban Spaces, Auroville, India

A presentation I gave providing a brief glimpse into the effects that trees have on our lives and surroundings in an urban setting.

Presentation starts at 3:30.

Recently, in urban settings, trees are being used more as green infrastructure providing ecosystem services rather than merely street furniture. This presentation illustrates some ways in which this applies.

This presentation uses examples from the U.S, the U.K. and from India, where I am based. It includes the positive and negative effects and ways to improve matters with existing trees as well as potential trees. It is based on experience and research from around the world.

This is relevant for architects, town planners, municipal corporations, engineers, landscapers and anybody interested in improving urban forests through arboriculture.


Trees need surveying for multiple reasons. Here are a few.

When tree surveys will/might be beneficial:
1: When buying a property that includes trees which might affect the initial or long-term price due to maintenance or removal of said tree(s).
2: Tree safety surveys (anywhere where many pedestrians or motorists visit often): in public areas such as schools, on private land or on commercial areas such as car parks. This serves to prove that the landowner is fulfilling their duty of care (not being negligent) and as such reducing the risk of damage to persons and property.
3: Development surveys compliant with BS:5837, 2012 Trees in relation to design, Demolition and Construction. To be included in planning applications where trees are present. This will also include trees that may be damaged by vehicular traffic on the site and will also include trees in neighbouring properties whose roots and/or branches may be affected.
4: A Condition report, to give a idea of the state of the trees on a site. This would possibly also include a management plan: what tree work is required or if other inspections (possibly aerial) are required down the line. This would include timescales for the work required or re-inspections.
5: Management plan: More often for older trees, veterans and ancient. If retrenchment is required to keep an old tree with a lapsed pollard from failing structurally, it may be beneficial to reduce the tree in stages and perhaps help it in other ways such as removing some competition (other trees), ameliorating the soil (perhaps with an airspade) etc… to enable reducing the tree without killing it a few years down the line.

Laetiporus sulphureus on willow
Fungus fruiting bodies on willow