Be a better neighbor. Sign up for EveryBlock to follow and discuss neighborhood news.

Sign up for free →

Added May 15 2018

I was trying to find information if it's Ok to plant in the front of my house. Mainly between the street and the sidewalk. A neighbor just recently planted a small tree there but I am hesitant to do anything since I thought that was city property.

If someone knows, please reply.


  • Keep in mind that if the city has to do work there they will destroy everything you planted so they can do the work so don't try to plant anything to extravagant

  • JBlade is right. You can do plantings there but the city will tear them up and not replace them if they need to do work in the parkway.

  • If you want a tree planted there you can request one from the city. Not sure how long it will take though.

  • Get this, the Parkway is the City's Property, but U as a home owner are responsible for it just like shoveling the City's sidewalk when it snows!!! Go Figure?!! Only in Chi-Town!!! They will allow U to Plant stuff in the Parkway, Legal Stuff anyway!!!

  • Kathy retired gardener

    You cannot plant evergreens in Parkway. I've planted many other things, including Magnolia tree, Hydrangea and Daylillies without any problems. It's beautiful.

  • I'd be certain the new gas lines have already gone in on your block before installing anything in the parkway (when the new gas lines go in, the work often decimates parkways). Other than stuff like that, the odds are in your favor that what you plant will last many years.
    And KUDOS to the City's Parkway Tree program. Property owners can call 3-1-1 to request trees be planted in the parkway of their property. If you have space for two, you can request two and they'll install a matched pair. Request Red Flame Maple -- they're native, don't drop whirly-gig litter; they grow fast and upright, and they LOOK fabulous!

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    This is a great thread! So glad you asked the question! I do hope you plant away! My 2 cents is to plant native also, and maybe think of plants that bees and butterflies like and or little bushes for birds to sleep?

  • Jen, your comment just reminded me of a EB Neighbor whose plantings that attracted pollinators were apparently ripped out by someone allergic to/afraid of bees. We're trying to add to our pollinator plants out of the public way.
    Common Serviceberry is a nice native shrub/tree that does well in full sun to partial shade; great for birds and butterflies.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Ah! Right NW-sider, I forget people are afraid and or allergic! I'll have to look into the Common Serviceberry! I discovered Catmint bushes last year, full of tiny white flowers and I had literally hundreds of bees all over them until late fall on my roof deck. Which, speaking of my roof deck, you might get a kick out of this article NW-Sider ;) Check it out

  • Jen - OMG on that story & your dedication to providing for and protecting them. Thank you for the mention of Catmint. I had no idea it flowered and attracted bees. LOVE bees! We're growing common milkweed to support Monarch Butterflies. Catmint would be a great full sun accent.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Lol! Fun times on my roof right now, thats for sure! Yes, Catmint is amazing!! I also plant milkweed and absolutely love bees. I have mason bee houses too on my decks. We need to do all we can for them especially here in the big city!

  • Great dna article, Dennis. One trick for hassle-free DYI parkway trees: select a "conforming" species (one the City would install). There's a long list of parkway-approved species available on the City's own listing (pgs 2-5):

  • Jen & anyone interested in helping restore Monarchs -- I've researched and found that not all milkweed offers full life-cycle Monarch support (not all naturalists know this):
    Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) bears sweet-scented shell pink flowers, and supports Monarchs as the necessary food source for caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly that feast on its leaves. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) have darker pink blossoms and will attract pollinators but doesn't fully support Monarchs.

  • Susan 10 year resident

    The city will plant a tree there for you. It is worth the sometimes very long wait! Other than that, I try to keep ours as somewhat of a butterfly/bee natural garden (there are also lilies from the previous owner). The city has already dug it up twice and I expect it will be dug up again for gas lines soon, so I don't put a tremendous effort into it. Mostly just a few tulips in spring and lots of milkweed in summer for the monarchs.

  • Gardener Portage Park

    The city owns the parkway but you maintain it. You can plant a tree but my understanding is that you need a city permit to do this. You don't need a permit to plant a garden there and a native plant bed would be great. Whatever you do, you can't obstruct access to people's parked cars, I.e., installing a raised bed that woukd keep people from opening their car doors. If you don't have a curbside courtesy walk, you'll have to be especially mindful of this. Keep in mind that people WILL walk through your planting, no matter how lovely, and as others have said, sooner or later the city/utility will dig it up.

  • I'm in the process of doing this right now, probably much to my neighbor's dismay since I need to kill all the grass first and that's a rather ugly process. We have a city tree planted there already but it was not planted deep enough and the roots are all over the place making it near impossible to mow. And why not have something that requires little to no maintenance? The other day some city workers came to futz with our streetlight and trampled over part of my grass-killing bonanza, but I figure once I plant perennials and natives they will pop back up or be able to be replanted pretty easily. Unless they have to tear up the whole thing, in which case get yourself on some neighborhood facebook groups or freecycle and there are always people giving away plants for free.

  • K Seasay, that parkway tree with the shallow root spread sounds typical of what happens when they are planted as saplings and don't get heavily watered for the first few weeks. For parkway saplings, if there's no treegator, just set a watering hose inside their mulch ring on a steady light flow for a couple hours every evening to develop a deep tap root system. At least for a few weeks. We did that and our trees developed twice as full and sturdy as others the City installed that didn't get watered.

12 neighbors are subscribed to this conversation.

Posted to Portage Park

This was posted to Portage Park

What's the news in your neighborhood? Search for your ZIP code:

e.g. 60615