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Tree Gardening – Choosing and Planting The Right Tree For Your Yard

Tree Gardening - Choosing And Planting The Right Tree For Your Yard

Trees may be the most expensive initial investment you make in your garden. There is definitely more labor involved in planting a tree than with any other single plant. Trees, however, are the longest lived additions you will make to your garden and, when appropriate thought and planning is given as to type and placement, trees can add more to your landscape and garden than any other plant.

Trees can provide you with fruit and flowers. Trees will provide shade for your house and for selected areas of your garden and yard. They will protect your landscape from excessive sun exposure and help keep your home cool. Trees can aid in the creation of a micro-climate in your yard, helping your soil to retain water and keeping the air cooler, allowing you to grow plants that are not well-suited for the region in which you live. Trees will do all this and, at the same time, add their own grandeur and beauty to your landscape.

1. Decide Where You Want To Plant Your Tree

Before you can make your final choice on the variety of tree you want to plant, you must decide where to plant the tree. There are several variables to take into consideration.

  • How much space is there for the tree to develop? For example, the root systems of trees planted too close to a house may eventually interfere with the foundation of the house. You must take into consideration the mature size of the tree.
  • Where will the shade from the mature tree land? Will it shade the windows in the house where you like to start your seedlings in the early spring? Will it shade a greenhouse. Or will the afternoon shade from the tree fall on your neighbor’s house instead of yours?
  • Have all your drains, gas lines and underground cables located before deciding on a location for your tree. Remember, tree roots can often interfere with water and sewer lines.
  • Will your mature tree interfere with overhead power lines?
  • What exactly do you want to derive from the tree? Do you want a fruit tree? Do you want a flowering tree or are you primarily interested in a shade tree?
  • How many trees would you like to have?

How Far Should You Plant A Tree From Your House?

It’s best to plant trees at a certain distance from your home to avoid potential problems in the future when they start reaching maturity.

  • Trees planted too close to the house can cause damage to the foundation and interfere with water, gas and sewer lines as well as overhead power lines.
  • Tree roots can dry the soil out too much in regions experiencing severe droughts and weaken the foundation of your house.
  • Tree branches can cause damage to the walls or the roof of the house by rubbing against them.
  • If the tree is too close to the house, it may tend to lean to one side rather than grow straight up.
  • If the branches cover the top of the house, the debris from fallen leaves and dead branches can clog the gutters.

Distance guidelines

Generally speaking, depending on the root system of the tree and its size at maturity, you can use the following guidelines regarding how far you should plant the tree from your house:

  • Large trees reaching a height of 70 feet or more should be planted at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Medium-sized trees up to 70 feet in height should be planted at least 15 feet from the house.
  • Small trees 30 feet tall or less should be planted about 10 feet from the house.

Best Trees To Plant Near A House

Trees planted near your house can increase its appeal and provide screening for more privacy. Here is a list of beautiful trees that you can plant near your house:

  • American Holly
  • American Hornbeam
  • Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
  • Crabapple
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Japanese Maple
  • Saucer Magnolias

Trees To Avoid Planting Near A House

Some trees have roots that grow so aggressively that they can cause foundational damage. So these types of trees shouldn’t be planted close to your house. These trees include:

  • American Elm
  • Aspens
  • Black Adler
  • Black Locust.
  • Cottonwoods
  • Norway Maple
  • Oak
  • Poplars
  • Silver Maple
  • Weeping Willow
  • White Ash
  • Willows

2. Choosing The Right Tree For Your Yard

Once you have chosen a location that is far enough away from buildings, underground facilities and overhead power lines, and when you have decided between fruit, flowering and shade trees, you must then decide on the trees that are suitable for your needs.

A good garden center will have a variety of trees suitable for the climate in your area. If you have decided on fruit trees, it is especially important to do your research as to which fruit trees will grow best in your area. Citrus trees, for example, will not put on fruit in areas that experience freezing temperatures.

You will also need to learn the size and height the mature tree will be expected to reach. This is important not only in determining whether or not the tree branches will interfere with buildings and overhead power lines. The roots of the tree will spread out from two to four times the diameter of the tree’s crown. Since the majority of a tree’s root system in located from 6 to 24 inches below ground, the tree roots can interfere with other garden planting.

Best Trees For The Front Yard

Your front yard is the place where you can make a good first impression on your guests and neighbors. A nice front yard that is beautifully landscaped can also raise the market value of your home. Here are some popular trees that you can plant in your front yard that will make a statement all year round:

  • American Holly
  • Bloodgood Japanese Maple
  • Blue Spruce
  • Chaste Tree
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • ‘Fastigiata’ Spruce
  • ‘Kwanzan’ Flowering Cherry
  • Little Volunteer Tulip Tree
  • Magnolia
  • Persimmon
  • Pineapple Guava
  • Pink Azaleas Mollis Hybrid
  • Red Leaf Japanese Maple
  • River Birch
  • Smoke Tree
  • Sun Valley Maple
  • Weeping Cherry

Best Trees For The Backyard

Trees add much-needed shade, color, privacy and charm to your backyard. Here is a list of popular trees that will completely transform the appearance of your backyard and impress your neighbors and guests:

  • American Holly
  • Brandywine Maple
  • Crabapple
  • Dogwood
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Fringe Tree
  • Green Giant’ arborvitae i
  • Paper Birch
  • Red Oak
  • Royal Empress Tree
  • Saucer Magnolia
  • Serviceberry
  • Shumard Oak
  • Silver Maple
  • Sugar Maple
  • Tulip Tree
  • Washington Hawthorn
  • Weeping Cherry

3. Planting Your Tree

Planting your tree correctly will allow it to establish more quickly and develop a larger root system in a shorter period of time. The larger the root mass, the faster the tree will grow and the better prepared it will be to survive diseases and drought. Given that trees do grow slowly under any circumstances, it is to your advantage to give your tree every opportunity to grow faster and healthier.

Begin by digging a hole twice as wide as the size of the root ball. Make sure that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the soil. It is important that the entire root ball be below the surface to prevent the root ball from drying out.

New research has shown that adding amendments, even organic amendments such as compost, to the soil around the roots of a new tree gives no benefit to the tree and, when the soil is heavily clay-based, can actually damage the tree by trapping moisture and contributing to root rot. So, back fill the entire hole only with native soil, tamping it firmly but gently to prevent the formation of air bubbles.

Water your new tree thoroughly but slowly. One preferred method is to turn the garden hose on to the merest trickle and leave the water on for one to three hours the day the tree is planted. Check the water frequently to make sure the tree is not over watered. Apply organic mulch around the base of the tree after watering.

Your new tree will need a minimum of eight gallons of water per week, applied directly around the root ball, for the first season. Do not fertilize your tree for at least the first year.

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