I have a shapefile with overlapping polygons - network buffers around people's homes. I am trying to clip features such as tree canopy polygons and street polylines so that I can join the set of clipped features contained within each buffer to each network buffer polygon. Unfortunately I cannot get the Clip tool to clip the input feature polygons at the edge of the clip feature polygons if the latter overlaps with another clip feature polygon. How can I get the Clip tool to treat each of my clip features separately? Or is there another approach? I'm working in ArcGIS 10.

  • Eileen, could you please post a graphic/screenshot so I can better understand the situation?
    – Aaron
    Jun 30, 2012 at 4:23
  • I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to accomplish, but if your data are attributed appropriately, you could use definition queries before each Clip to segregate your polygons. Then, just merge all the clipped datasets together afterwards. This assumes you don't have a ton of unique classifications to query out.
    – Baltok
    Jan 31, 2013 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


Intersect will give you (a mess of) output polygons (for the tree canopy) and polylines (for the streets), and all the attributes of interest can be used in Dissolve to give you the 'clipped' sets of polygons or polylines.

Make sure that each of your layers has a unique ID field that can be used to group them back together; e.g. HomeBufferID.

A computationally faster alternative to Dissolve is Summary Statistics to collect all the attributes of interest along with a Count_FieldOfInterest, Sum_Area, Sum_Length, or other statistic, and then use the Join Field tool to permanently join in the fields of interest to the original buffer layer.

Note: If areas/lengths are of interest in your analyses then you may have to calculate this geometry into the intersect output before running the dissolve or summary/join.

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