Abundant shade trees can transform parking lots into leafy groves


Most developed areas have an abundance of parking lots. Parking lots are not only land consumptive, they’re ugly, and they’re bad for the environment. They bake in the summer, raising ambient temperatures, and block rain water from seeping into the ground all year long.



Whether parking lots are empty...



...or whether they are full of cars...they can become great places to plant trees. Parking lots can be transformed into green spaces that cool our towns and absorb rainwater.  Simple geometry makes this possible:  The footprint of even a humungous tree seldom exceeds five square feet, but its trunk can rise up five stories and unfurl a canopy the breadth of a house.  If necessary, shade trees can be distributed throughout a parking lot without sacrificing a single parking space.


A park for people...

Consider urban parks. Most urban parks, like Grant Park in Chicago, consist mostly of a surface for walking, benches and tables, and trees.


... can become a park for trees

Remove the benches and tables, and we can turn parks for people into parks for cars. Tree trunks don't take up much space, and they can help define parking spaces. Their canopies, which cool us and absorb rainwater, are far above people and cars at ground level.


Keeneland Racetrack, Lexington, Kentucky

The Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky, has one of the few parking lots in America with a complete tree canopy.

Click here for ordinances to encourage the planting of trees in parking lots.