Matching The Tree To The Site

Location, Location, Location

The familiar Realtor’s mantra holds true in landscaping, too. It’s always fun to think about which trees you’d really like to have in your yard. But first, be sure to take a long hard look at where you want to plant them. To ensure success, find out about these aspects of your site before you visit the nursery:

· Climate zone. This information tells you how cold it gets during the winter. A tree’s ability to withstand a given range of minimum temperatures is called its hardiness. For example, a tree that is listed as hardy to Zone 5 can be expected to survive temperatures above minus 20° F. Check your local nursery or Cooperative Extension office for information about trees that are hardy in your area.

Soil conditions. Is your soil acid or alkaline, poorly drained or too dry, sandy or full of sticky clay, deep or shallow? A soil test will reveal such “hidden” problems and provide remedial recommendations.

Exposure. Is the site shaded or in full sun? Many trees do best in full sun, others in partial shade. A west-facing wall reflects afternoon sun and will be a much warmer spot than a north wall, which is shadier and therefore colder. Is the site protected from prevailing winds? Harsh winds can dry out soil and damage young trees.

· Growing space. A tree should have room to grow to mature size without crowding its neighbors, obscuring other landscape features, butting against the side of the house, or buckling the driveway with roots. You don’t want to have to try pruning a new tree back to keep it from outgrowing its site.

· Proximity to utility lines. With trees, it is especially important to know where buried electrical, water, sewer, and gas lines run through your yard, and where overhead cable TV, electricity and telephone lines intrude, too. The right size tree in the right spot can avoid immediate and long-term safety and liability problems. Check with your local utility companies to make sure your planting site is safe. They may have an 800-number to call for this information.

Where To Plant Tall Trees

The International Society of Arboriculture recommends that large trees 60 feet or more tall should be planted 35 feet away from the house to allow proper root development and minimize the risk of damaging nearby structures.

Examples of tall, broad-spreading trees include:
Common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea)
Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora)
Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana)
Thornless honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis)
Yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea)

Examples of tall, upright-growing trees include:
Black alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara)
Norway spruce (Picea abies)
Pin oak (Quercus palustris)
Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Where To Plant Medium Trees

The International Society of Arboriculture recommends that medium-sized trees be planted anywhere in your yard where the above and belowground growing space allows for reaching a mature height of 30 to 40 feet. The planting area should be at least 8 feet square.

Examples of medium-sized broad-spreading trees include:
American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
Chinese flame tree (Koelreuteria bipinnata)
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
Silk tree (Albizzia julibrissin)
Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Examples of medium-sized upright-growing trees include:
American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
Common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
Primrose tree (Lagunaria patersonii)
Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis)
Sweetshade (Hymenosporum flavum)
Washington thorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum)

Where To Plant Small Trees

The International Society of Arboriculture recommends that small trees, which reach a mature height of up to 20 feet, can safely be planted under most utility lines. They will grow in a space at least 4 feet square. They can also be planted in large containers or other places where the underground space for roots will not accommodate tall or medium sized trees.

Some small trees include:

Small trees with upright growth habits:
Crabapples (Malus species)
Hedge maple (Acer campestre)
Lilac (Syringa amurensis)
Ornamental plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’)
Redbud (Cercis species)
Silver Bell (Halesia species)
Snowbell (Styrax species)
Vine maple (Acer circinatum)

Small trees with spreading growth habits:
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstromia indica)
Dogwood (Cornus species)
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)
Sargent crabapple (Malus sargentii)
Saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana)
Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium)

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