I’m in the process of agonizing over plant lists to select the right tree for our front yard and boulevard. You’d think this would be a fun and easy home improvement task for me, but for some reason I’m finding it overwhelming. So let’s put things into perspective for all of us. Here are the first things to consider when whittling down your list of woody landscape plant options.
Size and Growth Habits
What is the maximum height and width that you are looking for? People often forget about the width, or spread, of the tree canopy and end up unknowingly choosing a tree that spans the entire width of their front yard and blocks the view out their new windows. Another size-related feature is the growth rate of a tree. Some species are very fast growing while others are quite slow. Often the quicker growing trees have a shorter lifespan.
Certain trees require regular pruning and maintenance or they shed branches and fruit, which require a lot of cleanup. Some species are prone to fungus, insects and diseases. If you aren’t up for extra landscaping commitments, be sure you select low maintenance trees that are pest and disease resistant. Also consider the tree’s proximity to your deck, porch or patio as you probably don’t want a bunch of fruit falling and staining your brand new patio stones or furniture.
You need to determine the types of features you’re looking for and the purpose for which you’re planting the tree. Do you need a large shade tree or a series of shrubs to create a privacy hedge or living fence? Do you want to add interesting features to your yard through the fall and winter months? Are you looking for showy flowers for color or scent? Are you trying to attract wildlife? Are you trying to stick to species that are native to your region? Have you had new windows installed and want to improve the view with a showy tree?
Once you’ve thought through all of these characteristics, you should be able to walk into your local greenhouse and get the help you need to narrow down your search. If you prefer to walk in with a couple of main choices already made, many greenhouses and nurseries have excellent online tools such as plant finder search pages to help you determine exactly what you’re looking for.
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