Selecting a tree for your home or workspace is like buying a pair of shoes; you want to make sure it fits and has the desired shape. Other factors include leaf type, fall color and whether or not you want flowers.
Trees are grouped into small, medium and large categories and knowing the mature height and spread when it’s fully-grown are critical to making the best selection. Note that a tree’s feeder roots always extend at least ten feet past the drip line of the tree, the furthest tips of the tree branches, so use this information to determine the best variety for your spot.
When creating a tree-planting plan it is much better to plant five-, ten-, or 15-gallon trees because with proper care the roots will become established in two seasons. Smaller, younger trees are like small children; they have lots of juvenile hormones and are more vigorous than trees grown in 30-, 45- or 65-gallon containers. Larger, older trees do not establish quickly and can take several years to root-in, turning the homeowner into a nursemaid hand-watering the trees until they become established. Smaller trees are easier to handle, more economical and respond faster to the environment.
In selecting your trees from the nursery make sure they are healthy, strong and straight. Inspect the trunks and branches ensure there are no cankers on the bark or the trunk — similar to the ones we get in the mouth — as these are an indication of a sick tree. Also inspect the trunk for unnatural cracks or loosened bark. Without bark there will be no flow of water and nutrients to the top of the tree; that side of the tree won’t be able to thrive and will eventually die.
Reasons to Plant Trees
There are many reasons for planting trees. For shade in the summer but sun in the winter, select a deciduous tree that will lose its leaves during the wintertime: Shumard Red Oak and black gum are excellent choices. Houston is one of the 16 cloudiest cities during the winter months and we want to enjoy the sun when it chooses to come out. Planting for summer shade normally will be in the western exposure, but morning sun in the east can be just as brutal.
Trees also work well as privacy screens; the best choice here would be a group of trees that are evergreen and grow more slowly than deciduous trees. Another good choice would be a large evergreen shrub that provides ten- to 15-feet of height for privacy and where the shrubs are branched to the ground. It’s important to note that shrubs are faster growers than evergreen trees. For shady spots select viburnum Awabuki or Japanese yew; for sunny areas choose pineapple guava or olive tree.
When deciding on a flowering tree, first determine whether it’s a sunny spot (receives six or more hours of direct sunlight) or a shady spot (fewer than six hours of sun). For shade select a Japanese magnolia and for sun choose a Chinese fringe tree.
The Dos and Don’ts of Planting
There are so many ways that a tree planting can go wrong. From the difficulty of Houston’s clay soil to placement, mulch types and pruning, this is an area where even those with the greenest of thumbs can get in trouble. Refer to our handy ten-step guide for best practices.
The Tree is Planted. Now What?
Do not depend on irrigation systems to water in a newly planted tree. Hand watering with a hose at least three to four times a week will help your fertilizer, soil, and shale “marry” to create the perfect growing environment for your new tree.
So come out to The Arbor Gate and let us help you select just the right tree for your landscape.
The Arbor Gate
15635 FM 2920, Tomball
Ten-Step Guide to Tree Planting