Springtime is a popular time to plant trees, but before you go to your nearest lawn and garden section and choose the prettiest tree in the lot, make sure you know what you’re doing. Careful planning and strategic selection of trees can maximize the amount of benefits derived from planting them. On the other hand, if a tree is not properly matched to a landscape, the tree can become more of a liability than an asset. Selecting the correct tree for a specific site is one of the most important decisions to ensure long-term benefits, appearance, and satisfaction. 

Which type of tree is best for my yard?

It depends! Each species of tree has specific environmental requirements for light, water, soil, and space conditions. The environment of a specific site determines which trees will thrive, and it is important to consider what your personal priorities are for your tree. Trees provide many functions and benefits, and there are various reasons why someone may choose to plant a new tree in their yard:

  • Provide more shade
  • Increase privacy from neighbors
  • Protect landscape from erosion
  • Limit noise and wind into the property
  • Filter pollutants from the air
  • Reduce rain runoff

Choosing a tree due to one of the reasons listed above is not as simple as it may seem. For example, If privacy is desired, evergreens are the best choice. Evergreens or conifer trees provide year-round screening because their needles stay on the tree year-round. However, if you want to plant a tree in a shaded area, evergreens are not desirable because needled evergreens don’t grow well in shade. So if your primary reason for planting is to increase privacy, but the spot you intend to plant does not meet ideal conditions for an evergreen, you may need to consider other options.

Environmental Factors for Selecting a Tree to Plant

Growing Space

Trees may be hindered by growing space, so the tree you select must be compatible with the amount of space you have on the planting site. The area above and below ground must be large enough to let a tree reach its full mature height and root width. Trees can grow to be very tall. Also, a tree’s roots can sometimes spread as wide as it’s branches. If large trees have enough room to mature they can provide incredible shade. However, tall growing trees should never be planted near areas with large amounts of power lines. Likewise, trees planted near sidewalks and curbs can not only negatively affect the growth of the tree, but can do damage to the concrete. 

Water Availability and Drainage

Trees planted in a site that is too wet or too dry will often die within the first year. 

Soil Quality & pH 

If the soil is compacted, tree growth may be greatly reduced because of insufficient oxygen in the root zone. Trees planted too close to the road in Iowa can be damaged because of the road salt applied during winter storms. 

Light Levels

Light levels are very important to tree survival. Many trees cannot survive in a heavily shaded area. 

Iowa Tree Planting Service

If the process of selecting a tree feels overwhelming, do not fret. The Tree Doctor is here to help you when it comes to selecting a tree, knowing where to plant it, and doing the work of planting the tree. Contact our team today!