Selecting A Tree

Tree expert John Haller wrote, “Few things are more satisfying spiritually than the setting out of a tree, and few things are more important practically.” Trees add value to the yard, they attract wildlife, they provide food, fuel, and shelter, and the list goes on and on. Trees are even enlisted as allies in our fight against air pollution. Some scientists have recommended that millions and millions of trees be planted around the world to help retard the effects of global warming, and such efforts are actually underway in some areas. To bring home this idea, Haller gives us a rule of thumb: “We need to plant 10 trees for every automobile and 50 trees for every large truck.”

But what about your yard right now? The right kind of tree, planted in the right place, can provide cooling shade in the summer and deflect the wind in the winter, thereby helping to reduce your air conditioning and heating costs. A line of a certain kind of tree can screen out noise and unsightly views. It is worth spending time in advance to think about what trees you want and where you want to plant them. This file discusses how to match the tree to your site, and how to evaluate trees at the nursery or garden center. It also suggests different kinds of trees for difficult situations such as excessive shade, wet soil, alkaline soil, privacy needs, and urban environments. Finally, you will find a list of some trees to avoid.

While you’re here visiting our web site, don’t forget to check our Yardener’s Helper database for information on many different kinds of trees and their care. Some of your favorite trees may already be listed.

Big Tree vs. Small Tree

You may have heard the catch phrase "fall is for planting." It is not just a marketing ploy by garden centers, it is true. September and October are the best months to plant grass seed, trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers. It is also the best time to transplant from one place to another.

It might surprise you to learn that planting larger, almost mature trees, or almost mature shrubs is in the long run often cheaper than planting those 6-footers from Home Depot. I'm talking about a tree that is more than 20 feet tall or a shrub that is more than 10-feet-tall. You might spend $500 for the larger tree and another $500 to have it transported to your home and planted by a landscaper.

Now do the math. A large tree will add $1,000 to $3,000 value to the selling price for your home. The small trees add nothing. A mature looking landscape can represent 10 to 25 percent of the value of your home. Mature-looking landscaping makes your home more valuable. Since the average stay in one house these days is about seven years, and it takes 20 years for that 6-foot tree to start adding value to your landscape, it makes more sense to go for the bigger plants.

Here is a strategy you might not have contemplated in finding large trees and shrubs for your landscape. Many nurseries that specialize in trees and shrubs will, from time-to-time will have a few trees and/or shrubs that for no reason have not sold for a number of years and just sit in their growing area getting bigger and bigger. As those plants get bigger, they are more difficult to sell. You can find some really fantastic bargains in large trees or shrubs if you are willing to pay for the digging, transport and planting of these trees.

I know someone who paid only $50 for a 22-foot-tall blue spruce that the nursery had been unable to sell. It cost about $1,000 to get it from the nursery and planted in the yard, but that tree offered instant landscape value probably more than $3,000; not a bad investment.

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