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What Kind of Tree Do I Want?

Trees can make or break a yard. In the right place, they can accent your other landscaping and features of your home, such as bay or picture windows. Flowering trees are beautiful, but some of them can make quite a mess, and planting the wrong kind of tree in the wrong place can even damage your property. This guide is meant to help you avoid any missteps and to choose the right tree and the right site on your property.


One of the first considerations you should make when deciding on the type of tree you're going to install is the size it will reach when full grown. Many a homeowner has purchased a tree with the expectation that it would reach 15'-20' (4.5m - 6m), only to have to tower over their lawn and shade the rest of their landscape. Different cultivars of trees will grow to different heights. For example, some varieties of Japanese Maples (such as the "Bloodgood" cultivar) are shrub-like trees that reach 20 feet (4.5m) tall when full grown and some Japanese Maples can reach 30 feet (9m) tall when full grown. Another consideration is [i]how quickly it will reach full size[/i]. If you want to enjoy a 20 foot tree and don't plan on staying in your home for ten years or so, you'll want to pick a tree that's closer to its maximum size.


Before we talk about where to put the tree I want to put a myth to rest. [b]Tree roots do not damage your concrete or your foundation.[/b] The damage is actually caused by the roots causing soil to shift, which puts stress on concrete and cement structures. Tree roots grow very deeply and they tend to spread as the tree grows. This is something you don't have to worry about with young trees, so for these purposes damage isn't a concern. If this is something you're worried about, you can choose a slower- growing species like Oak or Sugar Maple and stay away from types like Silver Maple, Birch, or Willow. The main concern with placing new trees is shade and design. Trees can be used to provide shade to a lawn, but when that casts a shadow on an existing landscape the shade can cause the plants and grass to die if they're not shade-tolerant plants. This is easily corrected by adding some shade-tolerant grass seed to lawns and shade-tolerant annuals and perennials.

When you're choosing your own trees and design, most people like to try to "break up" the architecture of the home. See an example below:


The tree on the left side of the house complements the slope of the roof. In this way, trees are incorporated into the design of the house itself.

Trees are a very valuable way to drastically alter the look of your landscape without needing as much maintenance as most perennials and other ornamental plants. They add curb appeal and shade can even lower your energy costs! Trees are a great investment so matter which you choose.