When choosing a tree to plant in your yard, first determine what purpose it will serve in your landscape. Ask yourself some simple questions before deciding on a particular type of tree. Will it attract birds to the area? Will it shade a patio or screen an unsightly view? Will it enhance the view of your home or identify an entrance/exit? After you’ve determined how the tree will function on your property, consider the following attributes:
• Hardiness (ability of the tree to survive winter cold and summer heat)
• Mature height and spread • Growth rate • Cleanliness • Type of root system
• Moisture and fertilizer requirements
• Maintenance requirements
• Ornamental effects, such as branching habits, texture and color of bark, flowers, fruit and foliage
Hire a professional tree care company to help you determine which tree species will perform well in your local area and is best suited for your desired planting site.
Finding space to plant
To reduce future maintenance costs, compare your site’s available space with the size of the mature tree. Don’t plant trees that will grow 25 feet or taller underneath overhead power lines. Also, it’s important to consider underground utilities—just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they won’t eventually have to be serviced. Permanent plantings should be spaced to allow for utility service. A minimum of 10 feet of clearance after the tree has grown to maturity will help avoid possible electrical hazards.
Choosing a transplant tree
Transplant trees can be purchased in three common forms: bare-root, balled and burlapped, and container-grown. All are perfectly acceptable for residential planting, but you should be aware of the limitations of each before making a final decision.
Bare-root. Bare-root trees are normally transplanted in October or early November and again in March to mid-May. These trees are either sold with the roots tightly packed in a moisture-retaining medium that’s wrapped with paper or plastic or with the roots loosely covered by a moist packing medium. If you can’t plant a bare-root tree soon after it’s purchased, you can temporarily plant it by removing the packing materials, covering the roots with soil or organic matter, and watering regularly to prevent the root system from drying.
Balled and burlapped. Many transplant trees are moved with a ball of soil that protects their root systems. Soil balls are heavy (approximately 100 pounds per cubic foot), so if your transplant tree is large, it’s important to hire a professional tree care company with proper equipment. Carrying a balled tree by the stem or branches can result in a seriously damaged root system.
Container-grown. Trees grown in containers have root systems that are undisturbed at the time of planting, which allows them to be planted throughout spring, summer and fall. If you can’t plant a container-grown tree at the time of purchase, you can place it in a sheltered location and water it to keep the soil moist. The tree can be transplanted anytime the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
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