Selecting, Planting & Caring for Trees

Tree Selection

Tree selection is one of the most important investment decisions a homeowner makes when landscaping a new home, or replacing a tree lost to damage or disease. Most trees can outlive the people who plant them; therefore, the impact of this decision is one that can last a lifetime. Matching the tree to the site is critical. The following site and tree demands should be considered before buying and planting a tree:

Site Considerations

  • Available space above and below ground
  • Water availability
  • Drainage
  • Soil texture and pH
  • Sunlight levels/exposure
  • Weather and other environmental factors

Tree Considerations

  • Growth rate of the species selected
  • Mature size
  • Form
  • Hardiness ability of a plant to survive low temperatures
  • Heat tolerance and drought tolerance
  • Pest resistance
  • Maintenance issues
  • Native versus nonnative species

Selecting Trees at the Nursery

When you buy a high-quality tree correctly, plant and properly treat it. Both you and your tree will benefit for many years. When you buy a low-quality tree, you and your tree will have many costly problems, even if you take great care in planting and maintenance.

Consider the following when selecting a tree at the nursery:

  1. Tree should appear healthy. No discolored bark, wilted leaves, etc.
  2. Branches should be evenly spaced around the trunk
  3. Trunk should taper from a solid base, gradually becoming more slender towards the top
  4. Tree foliage and branches should be distributed on upper 2/3 of tree
  5. Tree should contain a central, dominant leader
  6. Tree should be free from mechanical damage
  7. Tree should be free from insects and diseases
  8. Roots should not be girdling, circling or pot-bound