NGA Articles: How to Buy and Plant Trees

How to Buy and Plant Trees

By: Lance Walheim

The list of benefits that trees provide is so long you might believe it's exaggerated. But it's not. Reduced pollution, erosion control, wildlife habitat, energy saving, and enhanced human comfort and well-being are all documented, long-term consequences of tree planting. But too often the focus is on the quantity of trees to plant rather than their individual quality and proper planting. It is important to know you are planting the right tree in the right place the right way. These are the issues that determine an individual tree's health and longevity, and so are the subjects of this article.

Choose a Tree Adapted to Your Site

Use all available resources to make a list of trees adapted to your area. Many books with general information about tree adaptation are available at libraries. Also, check with your cooperative extension agent, master gardener, or parks department for a list of locally adapted trees. Factors to consider include tree size as well as shape and growth rate; whether it is deciduous or evergreen; climate adaptation; soil and water requirements; pest problems; and the amount of litter produced. Naturally, a tree's ornamental characteristics -- flowers, fall color, foliage texture, and other features are also important.

Once you have a list of candidates, check it with advisors at local nurseries. Your list will narrow quickly, and you can use factors such as flowers, flowering time, or fall color to make the final selection. Finally, locate in your area a mature tree of the species you think you want and ask the owners what their opinions are about it.

If the tree you choose is not readily available, don't hesitate to place a special order for it, or to order it from a mail-order supplier. It is more important to get a healthy specimen of the right tree than to plant right away.

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