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Selecting The Right Tree For You

A. F. Benvenuto Saturday, July 24, 2010 ,

Spring is nearly upon us and as you begin to get the urge to plant trees, first go through a mental checklist of which trees you want to plant followed by a list of how to pick the healthiest tree at the store.

To begin, when deciding upon which tree to place in your yard, ask yourself a few questions. Is the tree for shade, privacy, to block a view or for its fruit or flowers? Second, find out how much room you have for a tree, some trees grow to large sizes and can quickly skyrocket into unseen power lines or get to close to your house or even your neighbors house.

If you are looking for quick shade, you will want to do your homework in regards to what kinds of trees grow the quickest. Hardwood trees grow slower, but on the upside, they live longer. Fast growing trees often require a lot of water and are often brittle and break easy so make sure you have both the water and the room to plant these types of trees.

Next, determine if the tree you are looking at is a deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and are bare all winter, which allows sunlight into your home and yard. This can be positive if you live in a cold climate. Evergreens retain their foliage year-around. Examples of evergreens are trees such as pines or magnolias.

Once you have determined where to plant your tree and whether it should be an evergreen or deciduous, next find out if it is suitable for where you live, which is called your 'hardiness-zone'. Most home and garden centers can help you determine what type of zone you live in so that you can decide which trees to plant and when. Some trees are more cold-hardy than others. Also ask about the type of soil that the tree grows best in. Many trees do best in rich, moist, woodsy soil that is on the acid side. Others prefer more alkaline soil that tends to be dry because it's not as rich in moisture-holding organic matter. Some trees, like swamp red maples and bald cypress, can handle even truly wet soil.

Another question to ask is whether trees will have thorns or are weedy and messy. This can be a hassle if you have children or animals that could get into the thorns or drag messy leaves and seeds into the house. For instance, sycamores and relatives of the London plane tree drip fuzzy balls, bark, and twigs all over the place. The spiked balls from sweetgum trees and the runaway roots of willows present challenges as well. However, if you choose the right place for some of these less-desirable varieties, you often can overlook their faults and enjoy their virtues instead

When picking out the tree of your choice, be sure to choose a reputable nursery or garden center. There are many big box stores who have numerous choices but may not have the trained personnel to help you properly pick your plant. Second, pick a healthy tree that has leaves of normal size, shape and color. The tree should be uniformly shaped and be free of spots or broken limbs. Examine the trunk for cankers and split bark, especially after winter.

Examine the roots of the tree if you can. Are the roots growing out of the drainage holes of the container? Small roots can be cut off, but cutting larger roots in order to remove the tree from the container can hurt the tree. Slide the tree's root ball out of the container to determine if the plant has become pot-bound. The root ball should stay together but be somewhat pliable. If the root ball is very hard or many roots are circling the root ball it would be best to purchase a different plant. A mass of circling roots can act as a physical barrier to root growth into the soil after transplanting. The circled roots can also choke and kill the plant as it grows. Examine the root system for small white roots along the exterior of the root ball. Do not buy plant with black roots. These roots were probably damaged by heat, freezing temperatures, excessive fertilizer, or under or over watering.

Going through this simple process of decision making and will help you grow a healthy tree that will give you the most satisfaction.


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