October 10, 2013

Choosing the Right Tree for your Home Landscape

There’s nothing like planting a tree to connect yourself to nature and make an investment in your home landscape. Trees offer the greatest benefits to the home landscape but can also be your biggest headache. It’s important to choose the right tree and plant it properly in the right location to prevent problems as the tree matures.

Too often the wrong tree is planted in the wrong place. For example, planting an olive tree that will overhang the sidewalk that leads to your front door is an invitation for crushed olives on the shoes of guests entering your home. Another problem to avoid is planting a tree with invasive roots near sidewalks. Tree roots can easily lift a sidewalk and create a tripping hazard.

  • Here are some tips in making the right choice when choosing a tree for your home:
  • Plan ahead: Decide on the size of the tree that best suits the site. If you have a large area and want lots of shade then a large tree would work well.
  • Think about the characteristics you want in your tree. Do you want flowers or fruit? Are coniferous or evergreen trees your favorite? Or do you prefer a deciduous tree that loses its leaves in the winter?
  • If you have limited space make sure you choose a small to medium tree that does not have invasive roots.
  • Be sure to look upward before deciding what tree to plant. If there are power lines overhead a tall tree that will impact the lines is a poor choice.
  • Consider your sun and shade requirements when choosing a tree. If you want to shade your home in the summer but get more light in the winter choose a deciduous tree and plant in on the southern side of your home. Planting an evergreen tree that shades your home year round would be a poor choice if you want winter sunshine.
  • Make sure you are familiar with local insect and disease problems for trees in your area. It’s not unusual to find trees available at nurseries that are ill suited to the climatic, disease or insect problems for your area. Check with local arborists or cooperative extensions for suitable trees.
  • Be familiar with soil and moisture conditions in your yard. Some trees tolerate rocky hard soils while others can tolerate wet clay soils. The more you know about your home’s soil the better choice you can make when choosing a tree.
  • Purchase a healthy tree with good structure. Look for trees that have bright green healthy leaves without yellowing or drooping foliage. It is preferable to purchase a tree with a central leader rather than a tree that has been tipped back to form a rounder canopy.
  • Inspect the roots of the trees before purchasing. Make sure that the roots are not circling around the trunk of the tree. These type of roots are known as girdling roots and can inhibit proper root development. Girdling roots choke off trees ability to form lateral roots that provide support for the tree. Trees with girdling roots are more likely to fail at the root crown as they mature.
  • Look for trees that have good trunk caliper. In other words, choose trees with thick trunks rather than skinny trunks that will not tolerate the wind.

The best way to make the right choice for your new tree is to take a walk around your home. Check your soil conditions, your shade requirements and your size preference. Then do some research on what the best choices for your area. Finally, check out the tree thoroughly at the nursery before purchasing to ensure you choose a high quality tree that will get off to a good start and provide you with years of enjoyment.


Ron Wallace
Certified Arborist WE 0979A