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Robin Friedman: Diverse, native trees add value to your landscape
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Trees in our landscapes provide numerous functions, including beauty to the yard, habitats for wildlife and sound buffers. Trees also provide privacy as well as offer shade to homeowners.

Therefore when choosing trees to plant, it pays to have a well thought-out plan since they are a significant investment in money and time.

Proper selection can provide a homeowner with many years of aesthetic enjoyment, as well as increase the value of the property. So ask yourself these questions when considering 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 function. When selecting trees for a specific purpose, 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?

When planting a young tree, it is difficult to imagine in 20 years the shade a tree will cast. Or it may crowd out other trees. Unfortunately this does happen, and the homeowner is faced with a costly removal.

* 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 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 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 chosen tree is a hardy, desirable species. Some trees have weak wood, such as a silver maple, and are susceptible to ice and wind damage.

More importantly, purchase a tree from a reputable nursery.

* Is the tree an evergreen or deciduous?

Deciduous trees will give you summer shade, but will allow the winter sun to shine through. And 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 native to the area?

Try to increase the natural diversity of the area by planting different native trees, which will provide habitat for wildlife and limit a single pest from destroying a large group of the same trees. Did you know that trees are social beings? Native trees enjoy living among other natives.

Native trees are also more tolerant of local weather, more disease- and pest-resistant, tolerate poor soil conditions and enhance natural biodiversity. Nonnative exotic trees can invade areas and crowd out native plants, which harms natural ecosystems. Hall County Extension can provide you a list of trees native to the area.

Lastly, healthy soil and proper planting are key to a tree’s longevity.

My next article will be Happy Soil, Happy People!

Robin Lynn Friedman is the Master Gardener coordinator for the Hall County Extension Office. She can be reached at or 770-535-8293.