How to plant a tree on the streets of Merida

The right placement and the correct species are important considerations

The wrong tree can overcrowd Merida's narrow streets. Photo: Sipse
The wrong tree can overcrowd Merida’s narrow streets. Photo: Sipse

Merida, Yucatan — Restoring the concrete jungle to one that’s leafy and green takes some strategy.

The cooling properties of a shady trees seem particularly attractive now that we’ve endured days and days of extremely high temperatures.

But planting a tree along the Merida’s sidewalks requires some thought. The first is education. Which trees are appropriate for public spaces, where roots can damage the city’s infrastructure?

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The Yucatan Scientific Research Center’s Lilia Carrillo, Veronica Franco and Roger Orellana have created a list of recommended trees that are safe and don’t crowd out pedestrians. The species are native or have adapted to the climate.

Among them are ciricote, guaya, guarumbo, k’atalox, k’itam, maculís, mora, pimienta gorda, pucté, ramón, roble, tsalam, balché, capulín and chacah. (Their books in Spanish are available here. Their Arboles Recomendables is the most relevant to this topic.)

But before planting, citizens are asked to consider if the sidewalk is wide enough for both people and even the smallest shrub. Merida’s sidewalks are mostly very narrow, constructed on streets that originally anticipated no sidewalks at all.

To stay in compliance with city laws, a permit is also required to plant a tree on a public right-of-way, such as a sidewalk. Read more about the city’s regulations here.

Also, consider if the tree will eventually collide with electricity or telephone cables. If wires are overhead, select a tree that does not grow past 4 meters high, or be prepared to prune.

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