Last week I talked about the fact that fall is typically the best time to plant trees in your landscape. When making the decision to add trees, take the time to plan where they should go and what type should be planted. Trees can provide shade, and create a windbreak as well as a screen if planned properly. Some trees are fast growing while others take what seems like an eternity before they are capable of providing shade. Many things about the tree should be considered before making your decision. We’ll cover some of the basics over the next couple of weeks to help you make informed decisions.

First let’s talk about what type, how many and where trees should be planted. The type of soil you have, the level of acidity, what other trees are already there, how much space do you have, and what is the purpose of the tree…all of these things should influence what type of tree you choose. For the most part, the garden centers in your area should only carry trees that will do well for your area. This should eliminate the worry about soil type and acidity, but don’t hesitate to ask if you’re not sure, and shop where you know you will get reliable information as well as quality product. Research the available trees before you start shopping to narrow down your choices so that you don’t feel overwhelmed when you do go to purchase your trees. It is important to take a good look at your existing yard when deciding to add trees. If there are no existing trees then the planning starts with watching the sun exposure in your yard from sun up to dusk. Study how the sun moves across your yard so that you can determine where a tree would need to be placed in order to create the shade that you need. Is the yard large enough to hold two or more mature trees? Don’t get carried away and plant so many trees that you create such a dense canopy of trees that very little will grow under it. It can be challenging to plant young trees far apart and then wait for years or them to achieve your goal, but remember what they say, patience is a virtue, and when it comes to trees, more is usually not better. Take into consideration the mature size of the tree…do you want the canopy to extend over your roof? How far do the trees need to be apart? Don’t forget to consider your neighbor’s yard during your planning. If a neighboring yard has a tree, what effect if any does it have on your yard. Take a look also at what type of lawn grass you have. How much shade will it tolerate? If you have Bermuda, it usually requires at least 6 hours of sun a day to stay thick and healthy. Less than that will cause it to start thinning and gradually die out. How much room do you have? Properly placed, one large tree can sometimes take care of your needs. If you want a yard filled with Azaleas, Hydrangeas and other shade loving plants, then go for more shade to create the best environment for your landscape. The size of the tree that you purchase is something else to consider. If you limit how many trees you plant, then perhaps a larger specimen can fit into your finances. A young tree with a small root system can easily spend the first 2 -3 years establishing enough root to sustain upper growth, so again consider how much patience you have and how soon do you want the tree to accomplish the goals you have in mind. A larger tree with its more mature root system will start growing more quickly and satisfy your needs sooner. Trees should be planted at least 15 feet from the foundation of your home. Some trees have a tendency to put out shallow roots that can cause problems for foundations, walkways and driveways. Typically, this problem is associated with the faster growing shade trees such as Silver Maple and some of the Ash varieties, so if your space is limited, go with a deep-rooted tree starting with a larger specimen to achieve the growth you want in the time frame you have.

Provide the garden center you are buying from with as much information as possible so that they can assist you in making an informed decision about the tree you buy. Trees are a wonderful addition to a landscape when done properly, so study your yard, decide on your goals and do your homework before you purchase.