Choosing a pet can be a difficult task. You have to take a number of items into consideration, the size of the pet, the amount of time different pets may need for care versus how much time you have available, and what needs the pet may have compared to your home. And of course, all of this has to also work with finding a pet that you connect with personally.
Well, all of these are true of choosing a tree for your yard or business property. This makes sense, because a tree, as a living plant, is essentially a very old and hopefully very resilient pet. Purchasing a new tree can represent a significant financial investment, and it’s important to choose carefully. We’re going to review some of the questions you’ll want to consider before making your choice.
Hardiness Zone- The first thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the “hardiness zone” you are located in, essentially taking note of the general weather pattern of your are. You’ll then refer to what trees grow best in that zone. Some trees may not be able to handle the harsher winter of your area, or conversely you may accidentally plant a tree that needs a winter season to properly seed and may struggle in a warmer climate. You can easily check the hardiness zone for your area with the Arbor Day Foundation here.
Soil Type and Condition- Besides the weather, you’ll also want to consider the soil type and condition you’ll be planting in. If your soil has a high percentage of clay it will welcome a different type of tree than a sandy soil. You’ll also want to consider the acidity level of your soil, which can similarly limit which trees can be planted. These conditions can be mitigated with fertilizer, compost, and adding new topsoil, but when planting a tree this kind of mitigation can be far more expensive and time consuming than it would be for a smaller flower bed, so you want to be cautious before choosing a plant that requires a lot of work. Get a soil test to identify your property’s specific soil profile. Northern Kentucky residents can have their soil tested for free by reaching out to their University of Kentucky county extension office, which Cincinnati residents can get similar services by reaching out to local campuses of the Ohio State University.
Avoid Invasive Species- Some ornamental plants that can be purchased at the local nursery or home supply store are invasive species that should not be planted on your property. These are plants that are not native to your area but will spread and kill off plants that are. Trees that fit this category include the Black Locust and White poplar trees. Be a responsible neighbor and avoid these species when choosing plants for your property. For more information on invasive species, visit www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov
Tree Size and Growth- You’ll want to take careful measurements of the space you’re looking to plant a tree in. Identify how much space you have, not only now, but also down the road. Remember that a tree is a long term investment. To refer back to our earlier metaphor, don’t be like the person who brings home a puppy, then regrets it a year later when that small puppy has grown into a dog far too large for their small one bedroom apartment. Also consider the growing speed of the tree you’re choosing. Some trees will sprout quickly, giving you a far faster impact on your home’s curb appeal. However, faster growing trees are usually softwoods that are less hardy and dependable, and may require more maintenance. A slower growing tree may be more resilient, but you may have to wait years before it’s making the kind of difference you’re wanting.
Finally, these are factors that will help you narrow down your choices, but much like choosing a pet, you’ll still need to find the tree that resonates with you. Look through the different trees, visiting a local arboretum or nursery to see them in person. Get a feel for what you like about the different trees. Consider options like a flowering or nut tree for added fun of being able to snack on your yard produce! For more help with choosing a tree, try this wizard from the Arbor Day Foundation for additional suggestions. And no matter what tree you choose, we’re eager to help you with keeping the rest of your lawn looking just as beautiful.