Tree Selection

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Are you looking for a tree to add long term beauty to the landscape? Trees often live for decades providing shade, a habitat and food for birds and animals as well as absorbing carbon dioxide. There are many, many trees to choose from but a wise choice matches the tree to the site condition.  Successfully growing trees includes planning, selection and execution.

The first step is to evaluate the potential site both above and below ground. What are the environmental conditions present? Will the plant be in full sun or is there shade? Is there sunlight reflecting from glass that may increase heat load?  Is there sufficient room for a root system to develop? What is the pH of the soil and how is the drainage? Are there overhead wires or street lights? Are there buildings or adjacent structures that might cause issues? Are there potential site modifications that would allow a tree to grow more successfully? What resources are needed or available to preform maintenance on the tree?

Step two is to make appropriate changes in the site to favorably impact plant growth. Follow soil test reports to improve the nutrient availability and soil acidity or replace soil if necessary. Make plans to provide needed irrigation when rain is not sufficient. Design a strategy to avoid soil compaction if construction, grading or site modification will take place.  Determine resources for an effective pruning program and budget cleanup and fertilization needs.

Step three is to choose the desirable tree attributes like flower color, crown shape, size, root flare, fruit production, fall color, and select appropriate trees for the site. The chosen characteristics can be matched with the extensive information available on tree species known to withstand environmental conditions in a growing zone. It is important to plant and maintain a diverse mixture of tree species throughout a community. Species diversity helps a landscape withstand devastation by insects, diseases and storms.

The benefits of having healthy trees on your property are numerous. Avoid costly disappointments and take time to evaluate the site and gain understanding of different potential trees before planting.

Look for this publication by the University of Florida on Choosing Suitable Trees for Urban and Suburban sites http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/documents/EP310.pdf.

Written By

Photo of Peg GodwinPeg GodwinExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (252) 527-2191 peg_godwin@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Aug 15, 2016
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