What is the culture of your space?
“What’s the culture of your space?” is not something you hear very often, but it’s a great question to ask yourself if you plan to plant a tree. We’re blessed to live near the Nursery capital of America, meaning that we’ve got a huge variety of trees from which to choose. If you want to make life easier for yourself though, you should start the planting process with a little bit of observation.
When you match the plant to the growing conditions you have in your space, you are well on your way to achieving the objective: right tree, right place. If you match the scale of the tree and its growing needs to your space, you will be both protecting your sidewalks, driveways, and other hardscaping and providing for your tree(s) to not just survive but thrive.
You should even consider how easy or not it would be to water your new tree given it will need 10-15 gallons of water once a week. Remember: trees and shrubs prefer 2-3 summers of deep and infrequent watering to establish deeper roots, as opposed to the more frequent and shallow needs of grass, veggies, and flowers. Also, water weighs just over 8 lbs per gallon, so if your tree is planted beyond hose range you may need to carry a 5-gallon bucket (that weighs 40 lbs) 2-3 times one day a week to get your tree(s) what’s needed. Keep in mind that some trees – such a dogwoods – are generally understory trees in nature and might prefer partial shade. That means that when planted in full sun they often need supplemental watering to look their best.
So, do yourself the favor of taking time this summer to watch how the sun hits your yard. If you’ve got shade from buildings, houses, or other trees, make note of how that might affect a tree. Keep in mind that “full sun” is generally defined as at least eight hours of direct sunlight throughout the course of a day. Do you have a view that you might hope to block? An evergreen tree would do that year-round, whereas a deciduous tree would do that during the summer months at least. Do you have a favorite window with a view you look frequently? If so, “paint a picture” with your landscape and plant a nice tree with spring flowers or fall color outside so you can add a little beauty to your life.
As you’re around town this coming summer, pay attention to what trees catch your eye. By next fall when planting starts, you’ll already be ahead of the game!
by Andrew Land, Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist