Trees in our landscapes provide numerous functions. They provide beauty, screening of sight and sounds, privacy, shade and wildlife habitats.
When choosing trees, it pays to have a well thought-out plan. Trees can be a significant investment in money and time. But proper selection can provide a homeowner with many years of aesthetic enjoyment, as well as increase the value of the property the trees surround.
Some questions to consider when choosing the right tree for the right place:
What is the purpose of the tree? Most people plant trees with a thought in mind, whether it is for beautification or a specific practical function. Select trees for the specific purpose in mind and take into account their mature size and root spread. Is the species appropriate for the area you have in mind? Reliable nurseries and garden centers will recommend what types of trees would be suitable for specific areas.
How big will the tree get? Very important question. When planting an immature tree, it is difficult to imagine that in 20 years a certain tree might be shading your entire yard. Unfortunately this does happen and the homeowners will be faced with removing trees too close to their home or dimensions of their property.
Does the tree have a particular ornamental property to it? Remember trees bearing fruit or nuts can be a great source of food for wildlife, but many bearing trees can be considered “messy” and will become a nuisance if planted too close to a driveway or path.
What is the life expectancy of the tree? Some trees can live for hundreds of years while others are considered short-lived. Short-lived species can fill a void in a young landscape and are planted usually for their desirable characteristics such as size, shape, color and tolerance of sun or shade.
Is the tree resistant to insect and disease problems? Insect and disease problems can be serious threats to some species. Do your homework and make sure the tree chosen is a hardy, desirable species. Some trees also have weak wood, such as a silver maple, and are known to be susceptible to ice and wind damage.
Is the tree an evergreen or deciduous? This is an important question to consider when placement is important in your landscape. Deciduous trees will give you summer shade, but will allow the winter sun to shine through. These trees are bare in the winter so wind and noise might be a problem. An evergreen tree provides color year-round and will act as a hedge or privacy row if planted in the right place.
Is the tree species common for the area? Try to increase the natural diversity of the area by planting different native trees selective to the area. Increasing the diversity of trees will provide habitat for wildlife and helps limit a single pest from destroying a large group of the same trees.
Native trees are more tolerant of local weather, more disease- and pest-resistant, tolerate poor soil conditions and enhance natural biodiversity in neighborhoods. Nonnative exotic trees can invade areas and crowd out native plants, which harms natural ecosystems in our area.
Planting trees in your landscape can also reduce your heating and cooling costs. They help clean the air and they add beauty and interest with color and provide shelter from the wind and the sun.
Give us a call at the extension office for additional tips if needed and we can also offer you a wide range of native trees to be planted in this area.
Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.