How to Select Shade Trees
The single biggest point to consider
when deciding on how to select a shade
tree is the amount of room you have available for the tree to grow
The next point to consider is
rate of growth. The other important points are - height, spread, soil type,
moisture requirements, mature form, growth rate, sun requirements, fall color,
Foliage Color then Deciduas or
evergreen and finally growth zones for winter
point is discussed briefly below.
Here are all the normal criteria to
consider when considering How to select shade
Height - how tall will it get. This is seldom a large concern unless you
are planting the tree below power lines. If you are then why not select a tree
that will not have to be toped later in maturity thus ruining it shape. Select a
medium tree that will not reach the level of the power lines when full
Spread - how wide will the tree spread. The single largest concern. We
have all seen trees planted to close to a house or structure, the tree ether
contacts the structure causing damage or the tree leans out and away in an un
natural fashion. Sad sight indeed as the right tree could have avoided the
Type - does the tree require soil that is the same as yours or different.
If your soil has a high clay content often you will need to amend the soil or
select a tree that will accept what is considered a poor soil (clay). If your
soil is not the best do not worry as there are many trees that are great and
will grow in your yard.
- Moisture - Is the desired tree a tender or
tropical variety that needs more moisture and wind protection and you live in
Arizona? In such cases you can create a micro climate and successfully grow even
tender types of trees such as Japanese Maples but it will be much more work. You
tree will not be a "plant it and forget it tree".
Form - Trees are ether a triangle shape or inverted triangle. Example -
Pines are usually a triangle shape with the narrow point at the top and the
wider section at the bottom like a Christmas tree. Some pines when mature will
form an inverted triangle shape. Most deciduous trees will attain a rounded
shape when older but will often have a triangle shape when
Rate - will you be retired or.. gasp - dead? by the time the tree gets
large enough to actually provide shade? One thing is sad but true for the most
part - we plant trees for the next generation to enjoy. If you see a beautiful
tree stop and consider the person who planted it and give a nod and a kind
thought as you now enjoy their deed so many years
Exposure - will the tree like the light level where you want to plant it?
This is not too large a concern unless you have a forest and wish to plant a
tree that will be stunted in the undershadow of your forest. Why not plant
something that will in fact need the protection the larger trees are providing
such as a tender variety of Japanese maple?
Color - This is not a worry unless you are looking specifically for fall
color. If other trees in your area show great fall color then let these trees be
your guide on what could grow in your yard.
Color - most trees are green so this is not too big an issue. There are
however literally hundreds of variations of green and leaf shapes and sizes
available so make your tree selection an enjoyable journey of
- Deciduous or
evergreen? Evergreens are usually slow growing but are often considered
desirable as they can be disease and pest free and most importantly quite
drought tolerant. Deciduous trees can be long lived and pest free also but you
will usually have to settle for a lower grade of tree if you desire fast growth.
Research is the key. It is best to do your research and find out what grows well in your city and
state then look to these varieties when you plant your trees. Your digital camera
is your friend here. Drive around and photograph mature and healthy trees in your area that you
like. Then visit a real plant nursery and speak
to an expert. Show them your photos and they will advise about your best choice
for your yard and your soil type etc. Remember a tree is an investment in your
property, treat it as such and make a wise choice. You will be rewarded many
times over with not only added value but the satisfaction of seeing your tree
grow to maturity and provide the shade you seek. I have owned five homes in my life time. Each time I visit an
area of the country where I once lived I visit each house to see how the
trees I planted so many years ago are doing. It is a very satisfying experience to look
at those large trees and remember the day they where
- Will the tree survive the winters where you live? This is where zones play a
role. Trees will be rated for a range of hardiness zones. Find your growth zone in
our zone map on the menu at left.
In future additions to this article we
will expand into each subject and include list of trees suitable for each
criteria. For now this How to select shade trees article will help when considering your choices on selecting your shade trees.