Tree Selection

Tree species all have different strengths and weaknesses, and the selection of the “best” tree depends on the particular site and expectations that it will encounter. Things to consider when planting a tree:

  1. Why is the tree being planted? Do you want the tree to provide landscape interest, bear fruit, or provide seasonal color? Is it supposed to act as a windbreak, provide shade or screen something for view?
  2. What is the size and location of the planting site? Does the space lend itself to a large, medium or small tree? Are there overhead or below ground wires or utilities in the vicinity? Do you need to consider clearance for sidewalks, patios, or driveways? Are there other trees in the area? Are there barriers to future root growth such as building foundations and streets?
  3. Which kind of soil conditions exist? Is the soil deep, fertile and well drained, or is it shallow, compacted, and infertile?  Clayey and sandy soils pose special problems, and trees for such situations must be chosen carefully.
  4. Will road salt be a factor?  Some species—such as most maples—are sensitive to salt and will not survive.
  5. Which type of maintenance are you willing to provide? Do you have time to water, fertilize, and prune the newly planted tree until it is established, or will you be relying on your garden or tree service for assistance?

Asking and answering these and other questions before selecting a tree will help you choose the “right tree for the right place.”