The American Elm s graceful arching shape was a much-loved feature of many American landscapes. Apart from their natural beauty, elms are still unequaled as a shade tree. Plantings on the south or west side of your house can provide cooling in the summer. Elms lining a street or driveway cast a cooling shadow on hot summer pavement. The elm s strongest roots tend to go downward instead of laterally. Liberty elms are tolerant of salt conditions and soil compaction, making them a perfect tree for urban street planting. The minimum distance from the street or sidewalk should be 2 ft., 15 ft. from a house and 30 ft. from another tree.