Terran's Tips

Right Tree Right Place

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago…the second best time is today. That being said there are many things to consider when planting trees as they are to be considered a long term investment. Trees are one of our most important landscape features. They beautify and enrich our lives throughout the year with their variety of forms, flowers, fruits, seasonal leaf colors, and bark interest. They provide oxygen and cooling shade, and they filter out some pollutants from the air. Trees deflect noise and wind, block unwanted views and protect the soil from erosion. They can also reduce rain runoff by capturing and holding rainwater before it reaches the ground.

Too often, however, we take trees for granted, not stopping to think that the benefits trees provide can be the result of careful planning and selection. In fact, if a tree is not properly matched to the landscape site, the tree can become more of a liability that an asset. Choosing the right tree for a particular site is one of the most important decisions to ensure long-term benefits, beauty, and satisfaction.

A healthy community forest begins with careful planning. With a little research and a simple layout, you can produce a landscape that will cool your home in summer and tame the winter winds. Your well-planned yard will contain trees that grow well in the soil and moisture of your neighborhood. Your trees will be properly placed to avoid collisions with power lines and buildings, and the aesthetics will increase your property value.

A proper landscape plan takes each tree into consideration:

  • Height. Will the tree bump into anything when it is fully grown?
  • Canopy spread. How wide will the tree grow?
  • Is the tree deciduous or coniferous? (Will it lose its leaves in the winter?)
  • Form or shape. A columnar tree will grow in less space. Round and V-Shaped species provide the most shade.
  • Growth rate. How long will it take for your tree to reach its full height? Slow growing species typically live longer than fast growing species.
  • Soil, sun, and moisture requirements.
  • Fruit. No one wants messy droppings on busy sidewalks.
  • Hardiness zone indicates the temperature extremes in which a tree can be expected to grow. The mid-south has recently been reclassified from a Zone 7 to a Zone 8. This may be evidence of global warming.
  • Pest and disease resistance Dutch Elm disease or leaf scorch.

For a tree to be a success when transplanted into a landscape, it is important to begin with a healthy plant. Nursery-grown plants are usually superior to trees collected from the woods or from unmanaged fields because more of the roots are contained in the root ball. Look for a vigorous plant with good twig extension growth. Trees with good branch spacing and trunk taper are more desirable than those that have been headed back. Foliage should be evenly distributed on the upper two-thirds of the tree and not concentrated at the top. Avoid trees with many upright branches. Except for small-growing, multi-stemmed ornamentals, select trees with a single trunk or leader and with spreading branches. Check the plant for mechanical damage and do not purchase a plant that has an injury to the trunk.

Basic Spacing Guide for Trees

Tree Size


Minimum spacing
from wall
of 1-story building

Minimum spacing
from corner
of 1-story building

(30' or less)








(70' or more)




Healthy plants establish quickly in the landscape. Plants in poor health attract pests and require more maintenance. Examine the leaves and shoots. Chose trees with an abundance of healthy, green leaves. Check for the presence of insect or disease. Examine the root ball of the tree. Balled and burlapped plants should have a solid ball that has been kept moist and protected from drying. If all the plant is in a container, check the root system. Roots that are brown or black indicate a health problem. Avoid trees with circling of kinked roots.

Selection of the particular tree from the nursery can be as important as selection of an appropriate tree species. Selecting a healthy plant with good form can help ensure that the tree will be an asset in the landscape.

People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people.—Bryce Nelson

Please email joanna@woodlandtree.com or call us at (901) 309-6779 for any of your tree servicing needs.

Posted by Mark Allen at 14:18