Principles of woody plant selection for landscape planning

The selection of proper plants for specific stand conditions is a very important task that affects success in the landscape planning and landscape design.

In Europe recent studies (Pauleit et al., 2002; S*bo et al., 2003; S*bo et al., 2005) documented poor diversity of tree genera and species planted in urban areas. A few genera of woody plants (Acer, Aesculus, Platanus and Tilia) are used as street trees. The number of species planted in parks, gardens and residential zones is high, however, an increase in the number of species used for urban forestry is essential. Higher diversity of species used in landscape planning and design would increase ornamental value and longevity of the plantings, and decrease costs of establishment and regular maintenance.

Spellenberg & Given (2008) reviewed the general criteria for selection of trees for urban environments. According to their worldwide knowledge, the most important criteria for selecting trees for urban environments are rather pragmatic: suitability of the taxa for local conditions, low maintenance and avoidance of structural problems. Criteria that contribute to landscape design appear to be next in importance. The authors documented a predominance of artificial mixes of woody plant species in urban areas, which possibly increases the detrimental effects of urbanization on nature and habitats.

However, there are many activities which aim at preservation and utilization of indigenous species in landscape planning and landscape design, including urban areas (Breuste, 2004; Dunnet & Hitchmough, 2004; Florgard, 2004). The new planning and design concept allows using parts of nature with specific beauty and amenity for urban spaces as well as using native species and their communities for urban plantings.

Utilization of indigenous species should support increased biodiversity in urban areas with ecologically better balanced plant communities.