A Homeowner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Tree (part one)

Did you know that adding one large tree to your front yard can increase your property value by 10%? Yup, trees are a wonderful and vital part of your home landscape. In part one of this blog series, I will show you how to pick the appropriate species of tree for your property.

Step 1: Site Survey

Before you begin, ask yourself what purpose you’d like your tree to serve. Do you want a small flowering tree for ornamental value? An evergreen to serve as a screen? Or a large shade tree that will cool your house? Consider the following:

Height:  How tall will your tree eventually get?  All trees will be small when you first plant them, but some species can reach heights of 100 feet at maturity.

Canopy Width:  What is the overall spread of the tree you will plant?  If you have a large yard, you should consider a spreading tree, which can reduce your air conditioning bill by up to 30%.

Growth rate:  How long will it take your tree to reach its mature size? Some trees grow much quicker than others, but are also shorter lived and more prone to breakage.

Fruit: Do you want fruit for wildlife interest? Or are you avoiding fruit because of the potential messiness? Some trees have persistent fruits that stay attached over the winter.

Step 2: Environmental requirements

In addition to looks, you’ll want to select a tree that’s a good fit for the growing conditions at your home. Considerations include:

Hardiness Zone: What is your hardiness zone and what trees are able to thrive there?  Some trees cannot withstand harsh winters, others fare poorly in summer heat.

Shade/Sun: Some trees prefer light shade and some trees need full sun to grow. If placed in an unideal location, a tree may show signs of stress and have difficulty becoming established.

Moisture: Some species prefer wet sites and some prefer dry. Knowing this can help prevent “root rot,” which is as unpleasant as it sounds.

Soil: Some trees are salt tolerant, some prefer a high pH, and some are more tolerant of urban compacted soils than others.

Disease/Pest resistance:  Certain diseases and pests attack certain varieties of trees. For instance, an outbreak of bacterial leaf scorch is brutal for a red oak. Don’t fret though, many large universities have a cooperative extension office that can give you free guidance.

Step 3: A Trusted Resource

You know how you sometimes consult a friend before selecting a movie or buying an outfit? Let PHS be your BFF when it comes to choosing a tree.

For years PHS has appointed select trees as Gold Medal Plants. When a property owner acquires a Gold Medal winner, he or she can be assured the plant will exhibit standards of excellence and reliability. PHS Gold Medal Plants are also chosen for their beauty through many seasons.

Consider these factors when planting your tree and you will enjoy it for years to come. I’ll have more tips on Wednesday. Until then, remember what Warren Buffet once said: “Someone is sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.



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