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Gardening Guides » Trees and Windbreaks » Planting Your Shade Tree

Planting Your Shade Tree

Choosing The Right Tree
Choosing a new tree for your yard is an important decision. There are many factors that need to come into play. For example, if you're looking for spring blooms or fall color, then smaller ornamental trees like crabapple, pear and redbuds are good bets for blossoms. Although most large shade trees are not noted for their blooms, shade trees are well-known for their fall colors. Maple trees and Ash trees are most notable in this category.

Are you looking for shade and privacy? Shade trees are usually deciduous. In full foliage, they provide shade in summer. When leaves fall, they let in the winter sun. For privacy or a windbreak, evergreens are the trees of choice.

Planting Your Shade Tree
A shade tree is an investment in your home's future and in the environment. A misplaced tree will undergo undue stress and perhaps a short life. A shade tree that outgrows its space can damage and endanger nearby structures. No matter what type of shade tree you choose, you need to consider the following:

Soil - Do a soil test and follow the recommendations. Urban areas often have shallow or compacted topsoil that needs amending.
Sun - Consider the amount of sunlight the area gets. Most shade trees prefer full to partial sun.
Wind - Strong prevailing winds can dry out the tree and the soil. Trees with dense foliage are in danger of being toppled by severe storms.
Space - How much space do you have? Plan for the tree's size at maturity. Remember the space needed for proper root growth. A tree's roots can grow up to three times the diameter of the canopy. Don't plant a shade tree too close to other trees. They'll compete for water and nutrients and none of them will thrive.
Height - Varieties that grow taller than 50 feet are best located at least 30 feet from the street and the house. Larger varieties look best alone; smaller ones are more appealing planted in clusters of two or three.
Utilities - If you have wires overhead, your tree can only reach a maximum of 20' in height (maybe less) before interfering.

Shade Tree Maintenance
After planting, trunks can be wrapped to protect the bark from sun, wind, insects, rodents and deer. This is best done in fall and should be removed the following spring. Wrap the tree from the ground to the crotch of the first major branches. Most trees are pruned before shipment to avoid damage in transit. However, they many need some additional pruning. Prune out crossed limbs and remove broken or injured branches by trimming just outside the branch "collar" - the small, raised area around the branch where it grows from the main stem.


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