To tree or not to tree, that is the question


Last weekend I stopped by a potential customer’s residence to provide some gardening consultation.  This visit was the inspiration of today’s blog topic.  The subsequent discussion is not meant to throw this individual under the gardening bus but to highlight problems with tree placement that I see every day.

Unfortunately many of us select and plant trees with little or no knowledge of the characteristics of the tree, ie: height, width, water and sun requirements.  We improperly plant trees too close to homes, sidewalks, potential gardening and play areas and we choose the wrong tree species for our intended purpose.  We also tend to plant trees with little to no knowledge regarding proper planting, feeding and watering requirements, thus neglecting the overall health requirements of the particular tree and the surrounding area.

This blog cannot cover all the necessary aspects of tree species selection, planting, pruning and care requirements but it is meant to be food for thought when you make that choice to purchase and plant a tree.

Most people plant trees with the general understanding the trees will take time to grow to maturity but people also tend to want to achieve the desired visual impact now so they ignore the grow tag which indicates the future growth expectations of the tree at maturity.  Thus, they commit the most common error of planting trees to closely together or too close to houses, sidewalks and curbing, etc.  I have learned to realize that when I plant a tree I expect to reap the aesthetic benefits years from now.  I read the tag and make conscious decisions about space requirements of the tree at maturity.  I won’t see the immediate visual benefits but I will not be facing a future of unexpected costs relating to damage to my home, sidewalks, sprinkling systems, curbing etc.   I also will not have a yard, years from now, that looks terrible and poorly planned.  Why spend so much money on a landscaping investment only to hate the after effects in later years.  A poorly designed landscape can also greatly diminish the value of your home if you intend to sell in the future.

When looking at your yard, also take into account the possible future uses of the yard space.  If you plan to have children, who you want to be able to play in the yard, don’t plant trees right in the middle of the open space.  If you plan to have a garden in the future don’t plant trees that will cause the area to be heavily shaded.  If you want to provide screening from the street or neighbors’ view, plant the right trees, shrubs or vines that will enhance the visual appeal of your yard, stay in their intended space and serve their intended purpose.  Never plant a tree right next to your house as the branches will hit and damage your siding and window screens and trees planted next to sidewalks will raise up the sidewalk and/or curbing which the city may require you to pay to replace.  You are also potentially liable for injuries that occur when someone gets poked in the eye with a branch or trips and falls on the uneven sidewalk for example.

Also, be realistic with yourself and your lifestyle when making landscaping decisions.  I see a lot of people who are either over optimistic about their gardening motivation and skills and overdo their yard,  and those who underestimate their interest and limit their future gardening opportunities with poor planting selections.

After making the correct purchase of the tree species that will serve your purpose, and after you have planted the tree in your carefully selected spot, make sure you water the tree, at least weekly for the first three to five years of life.  Additionally, any unprofessional pruning you do, or have done to your tree,  can alter the aesthetic form of the tree as well as negatively effect the overall health of the tree.

If this blog hits a nerve with you when you look at your yard, it is probably not too late to do something.  That something could be costly but it will be less costly to move (or permanently remove) improperly planted trees now then it will be in the future when they get larger and cause more damage.  I suggest you do research on your own as well as contact a professional to help you fix the mistakes now.  Years from now when you are looking out at all the yard investment you have made over the years, you can smile and take in all in rather than close your eyes and have to take it all out.

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About urbancompostsystems

I am a retired law enforcement officer who is an avid gardener. I have a compost bin business named Urban Compost Systems. I believe strongly in the concept of growing healthy food and I utilize chickens and redworms in my "compost system". The only ingredients that I need from outside my system are leaves in the fall and some supplemental grass clippings from neighbors. I make hundreds of gallons of compost in my four bin system. I thoroughly enjoy the summer bounty I get from my yard and I take great pride in knowing that I am using my yardwaste to make healthy compost for my yard.
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