Commercial Curtain

Reduce drainage fees, manage dust, and enhance the identity of your commercial corridor with this colorful and fragrant edge-maker.

SunPart Shade










Sun, Part Shade

The Commercial Curtain is a good option for property owners looking to stop dust from blowing through and across their lot and onto adjacent properties. This design features fragrant and flowering trees and shrubs to bring life and color to lot edges.

Similar to a traditional windbreak, this lot design provides a landscaped barrier to alleys, side roads and adjacent properties, creating a visual screen and helping to prevent illegal dumping while improving the stormwater performance of a commercial lot.

This lot design can extend across multiple properties and be part of an effort to enhance the visual identity of a commercial corridor.

Ideal Location: Commercial lot in full sun to part sun.


The Commercial Curtain is a moderately priced lot design and is based on the cost of planting 1.5-inch diameter trees and utilizing volunteer labor. The larger the tree, the more expensive it is.

The exact level of investment required depends on the number and length of lot edges you choose to buffer. Buying smaller trees and shrubs can reduce the cost even further—however, using younger trees and shrubs will delay the accrual of benefits this lot design offers. Although it is possible to hire someone to plant your trees at any size, installing the Commercial Curtain makes for a great weekend group or family event. Please note that the soil quality on commercial lots varies greatly in Detroit—the Field Guide recommends trying to test dig a few holes on your lot prior to purchasing any trees and shrubs. The quality of your soil may necessitate the use of special equipment or additional (new) soil to house your hedge.

Green Infrastructure

Trees provide multiple benefits to every neighborhood, including their ability to soak up water during storm events. With time, the benefits of planting a tree only increase. The benefits of the Commercial Curtain are twice as nice on a commercial lot due to DWSD’s current drainage charge practices.

Vegetation and Visibility

This lot design creates a visual buffer between commercial corridors and residential neighborhoods, enhancing privacy.

Falling Hazard

If you follow the design specifications, the tree and shrubs are located to ensure that basement root intrusion and potential falling hazards do not occur, and that the City’s plan review requirements are followed. Unmaintained trees create a hazard to neighboring structures; we recommend working with a certified arborist as your trees mature. Please note the trees on the plan are shown at a mature spread.


Installing the Commercial Curtain will make for a fun and rewarding weekend with your friends, family or neighbors. The installation of this lot design should not require professional assistance if you, with the help and support of others, would like to build this design. Please refer to the Step-By-Step section for guidance. The installation process does not require any special, mechanized equipment. The most strenuous physical tasks are transporting your trees and digging the holes to plant your trees and shrubs. The Field Guide recommends having access to a car or vehicle for transporting your plants. Always hire a professional (or barter with one of your more energetic neighbors) if you are not up for the challenge, but remember, this will increase your costs. The Commercial Curtain works well on multiple lots—all the more reason to include your friends and neighbors in this project. Your group may also decide to build the Commercial Curtain over a series of weekends or seasons, completing one lot at a time through a phased or incremental approach.

The older and larger the trees you plant, the more the Field Guide recommends speaking with a professional or an educational group to ensure a safe transition from their previous home to your lot. In some ways, trees are like people – the older they are, the longer it can take to adjust to a big change, like moving across town.

Build Time Estimate

Ten hands or less! With the help of friends, family or neighbors, this project could be completed in a weekend. The Field Guide assumes the lot is ‘construction ready,’ and all equipment and materials required for the lot design have been acquired and are ready to use.

Build Difficulty

Number of People Needed

Neighbor Labor

Time Taken to Build

Build Season

Transportation Intensity

Permit Requirements


The Commercial Curtain is a low maintenance lot design. Maintenance includes watering newly planted trees, particularly during times of drought and excess heat. Trees must be watered regularly during the first year. Plan to water weekly or as needed.

Plan ahead and remember to think about where and how you will access water for the next month!

The Field Guide recommends connecting with an arborist or taking a workshop on tree health and maintenance. The Greening of Detroit offers a great Citizen Forester program to interested residents.

Seasonal Upkeep Levels

  • Spring: Low
  • Summer: Low
  • Fall: Low
  • Winter: Medium

Upkeep Frequency

Upkeep Skill Levels

Professional Assistance

Special Tools

Other Upkeep Considerations