canopy for urban heat island

landscape design thesis

fall 2022
combat climate injustice through tree canopy

   access the field guide here

    Urban heat island is a phenomenon in which areas are prone to higher temperatures due to a lack of effective landscaping nearby. These locations are historically redlined, low income, and minority neighborhoods, which is the reason that less investment in landscaping has been taken there. Wide roads, stretches of parking lots, and a lack of parks are some telltale indicator of an urban heat island.

    When planting in urban heat islands, there are many factors to consider. The trees must be able to tolerate urban conditions, such as poor soil quality, high rates of air pollution, and periods of both drought and flooding. In order to provide maximum relief, the trees should also be able to grow at a relatively fast rate without disease or infestation.

    While combatting the urban heat island effect through ecological influence is massively important in helping marginalized neighborhoods and reducing the local impacts of climate change, it is also important to be mindful of the role of landscaping and aesthetics. With this in mind, the visual interest of the trees in my field guide was another primary factor in selection. Visual interest ranges from trees with a variety of colors, flowers, unique leaf and canopy shape, seasonality, and shadows. It is important that these trees serve their community in as many ways as possible, one of them being providing aesthetic appearance and ample shade for relaxing.