Video | How to Plant a Tree: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Pick Up a Shovel

Watch to learn how our Treecologists determine if they have the right tree for the right place.

So you are thinking about planting a tree? That’s awesome! They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I think that is especially true when it comes to choosing what tree to plant.

I’m Basil with Leaf & Limb and I love planting trees. But before I do I always take time to make sure I have the right tree for the right spot. What makes a tree a great fit? Well, there are five major factors to consider.

First, what’s the goal of the tree? For example, does it need to serve as a privacy screen? If yes, you might want to consider something with evergreen features.

Second, how much sunlight is available? For this you can either use observation or an app like sunseeker. We will link to this below.

Third, how much space is there for the tree to grow up? In other words, how big will it be at maturity? Are there power lines above or houses nearby?

Fourth, is there space for the roots to grow? The bigger the tree the more soil volume it needs. At a minimum you should allow roots to grow out at least as far as the edge of the canopy at maturity.

Finally is the tree providing benefits for local wildlife? After all, your yard is part of local ecology. So we recommend planting native species. I will give you one quick example, our native oaks, like this incredible white oak right here, will feed 500 different species of caterpillars. In comparison, a Japanese maple might only feed a small fraction of that. This makes a huge difference for our local birds and bees.

Once you have all of this figured out, now it’s time for the fun stuff! You get to pick a tree! For this we recommend a book or an easy to use website like native plant finder from the national wildlife foundation. We will link to this and a few other recommendations below.

Get the right native tree in the right spot and you are well on your way to having the perfect tree for generations to come.

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