A tree is a tree is a tree, right? Absolutely WRONG! If you’re thinking about adding a little green to your space, it’s critical to answer a few questions first:
Do you live in Phoenix or Minneapolis? Northern or Southern California? The options when selecting trees are extensive BUT limited to your geographic location. You must first decide your hardiness zone. Our nation is divided into ten of them, determined by climate and soil types. Once you determine your zone, you can contemplate a list of trees that will best meet your needs. A very helpful map is provided by the Arbor Foundation.
Once you determine your planting zone, there are other WHERE elements to consider. Make sure you explore the root system of each species and know whether there will be any sidewalks, pipes, or other foundations you must avoid. Roots don’t make cracks in these, but they certainly find them! A hairline fracture can become a root-bearing nightmare very quickly. Overhanging utility wires, neighboring trees, and property lines are also things to think about.
Do you want some shade along your patio? How about a splash of color in a front yard of everything green? Do you crave some privacy in your backyard but dread the idea of a privacy fence? Consider a beautiful hedge of greenery instead!
There are two key details to consider when preparing to plant trees. First, when is the best season to plant? The answer is simple…autumn. Whether autumn begins in August or October will depend on the region in which you live, but planting season is always autumn. The cooler temperatures and increased rain of this season allow a strong root system to become well-established before facing the rough summer months of heat potential drought.
Next, when considering WHEN to plant your tree(s), you need to determine when you want your tree to grow to maturity! If you’re hoping for a Red Maple to give you that perfect splash of shade and brilliant color, you will have to wait 25-30 years for all its brilliance to be fully mature! There’s a Greek proverb that says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” If you prefer this not to be the case, replace your dreams of a Red Mable with a River Birch or Tulip Poplar (which provides flowers in spring as well) and enjoy the glorious shade considerably more quickly.
Determining WHERE, WHY, and WHEN to plant trees right from the start can give you incredible joy and prevent potential years of frustration. If you give a tree what it needs, it will repay you for many generations to com. The Arbor Day Foundation provides an extremely helpful guide to help you choose the best tree for planting. Check out their quick list of recommendations!
When tackling a major urban landscape project, understanding the soil volume required for a given tree is probably the most critical single element in achieving long-term establishment. We invite you to download our “Tree Species Soil Volume Guide“. This quick reference shows recommended volume for the species under consideration.