By Al Wegener, Landscape Consultant
Is it legal for a municipality to plant street trees beyond the right-of-way (ROW)—that is, on private property?
It’s a question I’ve run into a lot when planning street trees with towns and villages. That’s in part because with the widening of our roads over the years and the construction of sidewalks, there is often insufficient soil volume in the ROW to support street trees. Furthermore, some highway superintendents want a ROW free of trees so they can do street maintenance operations more easily. Also, trees in the ROW may conflict with utility lines, a battle neither “wins.” So it’s really tempting to plant just a few feet beyond the ROW, on what might be an open and inviting lawn. But is it legal to do so?