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Sustainable Boulevards

Milwaukee's Strategic Boulevard Plan

The City of Milwaukee has 120 miles of irrigated and landscaped boulevards that represent a long-term investment in public infrastructure dating back to the 1920s with the construction of the first irrigated and landscaped boulevard at West McKinley Avenue.

The city's Forestry Section has been and continues to be the steward of the boulevard system. Forestry designed the system based on a customer service philosophy responsive to residents and adjacent property owners. The result is a visually striking boulevard system that adds value and quality of life for the citizens of Milwaukee. While of collective importance to the community, Milwaukee's boulevard system faces ever greater challenges in the face of growing fiscal constraints. 

To ensure its future, stewardship of the boulevard system requires thoughtful, deliberative planning. Forestry developed Sustainable Boulevards, Milwaukee's Strategic Boulevard Plan based in part on recommendations from community and landscape professionals. The plan provides for long-term management of the boulevard system based on sound design principles and the sustainability of resources. The plan recognizes tough choices are necessary in today's climate of competing priorities and tight resources. 

Sustainable Boulevards calls for: 

  • Removal of low impact flower and shrub beds to be replaced with grass and trees.
  • Installation of highly visual Signature Landscape Beds at historic/landmark gateways and major intersections throughout the city.
  • Planting of shade, ornamental and ever green trees to increase tree canopy in connecting boulevard segments; and
  • Conversion to an automated irrigation system to save operating costs.

Implementation of Sustainable Boulevards will require significant capital investment. This up-front investment will be offset by a reduction in seasonal city staffing with an expected payback period of less than 10 years. Forestry is also seeking funding assistance for Sustainable Boulevards through community partnerships such as the Milwaukee Gateway Signage Program.

Forestry officials are seeking public input on Milwaukee's Strategic Boulevard Plan. For additional information visit the City of Milwaukee website at or contact landscape architect Scott Baran at 286-3531.

This boulevard – located at N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Blvd. – includes grasses, plants and trees that require far less maintenance and care by city Forestry employees.


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