Tree species composition, growing space and management in Hong Kong's commercial sky gardens

Caroline M.Y. LAW, L.C. HUI, Chi Yung JIM, T.L. MA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Sky gardens, a type of above-ground urban green space, have been increasingly welcomed and installed in cities. However, few studies have assessed tree planting, management and health in high-rise greenery. This study investigated tree species composition, planting space design and management, and their relationships with tree health in sky gardens in 15 commercial sky gardens with 480 trees in Hong Kong. We assessed the differences between old and new sites regarding tree species, height, crown diameter, and health. We also evaluated selected planting and management factors, including planter type, distance to neighbor trees, root-growth obstacles, canopy barriers, canopy overlap and topping history. Tree species selection in commercial sky gardens was substantially different from public and private residential green spaces. Older sky gardens had more palm trees by species and tree counts. Newer gardens had increased adoption of broadleaf and conifer species with high ornamental value and compact form but fewer native tree species and lower species diversity. The widely planted Ficus spp. had created long-term management issues. Trees were often densely planted, particularly in newer sky gardens. The common practice of topping indicates poor species selection and mismanagement. Planter types with insufficient growing space had dampened tree health. Our findings reveal the trend of tree species adoption, narrower planting spaces and wider adoption of the sunken planter. Improvements in species selection, growing space design and management practices could promote healthy, stable and safe trees in sky gardens with contributions to biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier GmbH.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127267
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Early online dateJul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


Law, C. M. Y., Hui, L. C., Jim, C. Y., & Ma, T. L. (2021). Tree species composition, growing space and management in Hong Kong's commercial sky gardens. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 64. Retrieved from


  • Green roof
  • Sky garden
  • Tree composition
  • Tree planting space
  • Urban tree management
  • Urban tree health


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