Knowing how to choose a tree or trees to plant in your backyard is a top priority. It is fairly easy to relocate a garden area or a shrub. However, moving a tree after 1-2 years can be very difficult and is not recommended.
There are many things to consider before you proceed with tree landscaping:
1. What is the purpose for planting a tree?
You must first determine the purpose for planting a tree in your backyard. Is it for privacy? Is it for shade? Is it for beauty? Is it to be used as a windbreak? Is it to be used as a boundary? Or is to be used for landscaping purposes?
Don’t get carried away in planting trees. Depending on the size of your yard, 1 or 2 trees may be all you need.
You may decide you need a large shade tree or an ornamental tree. You may want a tree that produces beautiful flowers. Or you may desire beautiful foliage in the fall.
2. Does the condition of the soil match the tree requirements?
This factor is many times overlooked in choosing trees. Different types of trees grow best in specific types of soil.
In general, trees do best in soil that is fertile, fairly moist, deep, and well drained. But this type of soil is generally not found in residential areas.
So matching a tree with your soil conditions will ensure a healthy and long living tree.
The best thing to do is consult with your local Extension office. Bring in samples of soil from various places of your yard where you intend to plant trees, shrubs, and gardens. Label each sample well so you know where the sample came from. The extension office will instruct you on the nutrients to add to your soil.
3. In tree landscaping, what is the height and width of the tree at maturity?
Consider the height and width of the tree when it reaches maturity. You probably don’t want the branches of the tree to spread over your neighbor’s property. That is, unless you just don’t like your neighbor.
In general, it is always best to not let your tree infringe upon your neighbor’s yard. This will prevent any disputes in the future.
You also don’t want the roots of your tree to cause problems with your house’s foundation or a patio or porch area. Roots can cause major damage to a sidewalk, driveway, or garden area. So plant your tree far enough away so it doesn’t cause this type of damage.
A tree’s roots can also cause major damage to sewer lines or a septic tank. It can block a traffic sign (although probably not in your backyard), or cause problems with utility lines.
After carefully considering your soil and location conditions, it’s now time to choose a tree. Look again at your purpose for planting a tree. Trees grown for a screen or privacy will be considerably different from those planted for beauty.
4. Trees have different shapes and sizes. They will be round, oval, pyramid, weeping, spreading, columnar or vase like. Consider the trees that meet your landscaping objectives.
5. How much sunlight does your tree need?
Some trees are shade intolerant and need full sun. Trees such as the yellow poplar, most pine trees, and cottonwoods fall into this category.
Others are shade tolerant and grow best in shade or partial shade. Maple and beech trees prefer partial shade.
Other trees are classified as intermediate in shade tolerance. These trees can grow in different light conditions. A white pine tree can grow in shade or sun.
Trees transplanted from forest conditions to a backyard with full sun don’t do well in most cases. For example, dogwoods trees moved from the woods to your sunny backyard are not well suited to the sunny conditions.
You are always better off buying this type of tree from your local nursery. Dogwood trees purchased from a nursery are better suited for full sun conditions in your yard.
6. Make sure that the tree you plant is best suited for your hardiness zone- Hardiness zone maps are available on the internet. Most of Tennessee and western North Carolina are in Zones 6 and 7.
Trees recommended for northern zones (lower numbers) may be able to better withstand freezing temperatures in your area. But they may really suffer during hot dry summers.
You can check out your local hardiness zone on this site: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html.
7. In tree landscaping, you need to know the undesirable traits of different trees?
Each tree probably has some trait that is considered undesirable. It’s important for the homeowners to decide if they can live with that trait.
a.The tree may be susceptible to insects and diseases – This is a very important consideration in choosing a tree.
Some of the most significant insect and disease problems are with the Dutch elm disease, Japanese beetles, gypsy moths, and the eastern tent caterpillar. There are many others.
A good source for information is your local nursery or garden center. Make sure you speak to an person who is well informed.
b. Seeds, nuts, and fruit – Many trees drop seeds, nuts, and fruits. This can be a major nuisance to some homeowners. To others, it may be a real asset if they want to attract birds and animals.
Fruit from Crabapple, Hackberry, and Blackgum trees can be very messy. Seeds from Maple, Yellow Poplar, and Redbud trees can sprout in homeowners’ yards and gardens.
Walnut and hickory trees produce nuts that can be very troublesome. I have never liked the prickly droppings of Sweetgum trees, even though that tree can be very beautiful.
The bottom line is that you must decide what you can live with and what you can’t. For me, Maple trees are one of my very favorites. The beauty and shade of that tree more than offset the nuisance of a few seeds sprouting in my garden.
On the other hand, I have had Wild Walnut and Hickory trees in my yard. I did not like picking up the messy walnuts before mowing.
c. What kind of maintenance does the tree require? – Most fast growing trees can be easily damaged. Following a bad storm, you will probably need to pick up fallen limbs and twigs in your yard. Slow growing trees generally don’t have that problem.
Some trees require a lot of pruning to keep the desired shape.
Also, consider that large shade trees require raking leaves in the fall. This can be a major task.
So you need to do each of these 7 steps as you go through the process of tree landscaping your backyard. Each step is very important.
Choosing the right tree and plant it in the right place will result in great benefits for years to come.
If you choose the wrong tree or put it in the wrong location, the tree may not survive and you will probably incur a significant loss of time and money.
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