Tree Choices

Choosing the Right Tree for the Right Place

Plan before you plant, there are many factors that enter in to choosing the right tree for the right place. Choosing wisely can prevent many problems as trees grow to maturity.

Environmental Factors to Consider

  • Minimum Temperature: Check a hardiness map for your area to determine the average annual minimum temperature. Low temperatures can kill living cells in trees. Maps are available in many garden books and online at the Arbor Day website.
  • Moisture: Each tree species tolerates whet or dry growing conditions to a different degree. Even trees identified as "draught tolerant" require water until their roots are established, usually two to three years after planting. Trees planted net to heat reflective surfaces such as pavement and concrete and trees planted in containers will need more water when conditions are dry.
  • Light: Trees have different light requirements. Some tolerate shade much better than others.
    Pests or Disease- Every part of the country has its specific problems with pests and diseases. However, many tree species are pest and disease resistant.
  • Soil: Soil depth, structure, and pH (alkaline or acid), and moisture are all factors in tree growth. Soil compaction adversely affects a tree's growth.
  • Air Pollution: The ability of a tree species to tolerate air pollution is becoming more important in urban environments.

Tree Factors to Consider

Consider what purpose do you want the tree to serve. Before planting a tree, think about what you are trying to accomplish and how much maintenance you are prepared to do:

  • Shade
  • Landscape accent-form or shape, size, color, flowers and or fruit, texture of foliage, trunk or branches
  • Deciduous or evergreen
  • Windbreaks and screens
  • Delineation of boundaries
  • Maintenance requirements - fertilizing, spraying, pruning, and clean-up of falling leaves and fruit

Determine Tree Size & Planting Location

Before planting a tree, know what it will look like at maturity. Take into consideration its height, crown spread (width of the tree at its widest point), and root space (how deep and how far horizontally roots will grow) to avoid the following problems:

City of Arlington Guidelines for Trees

The City of Arlington has developed guidelines for choosing appropriate trees for specific uses and locations. It is available online or as a section of the City of Arlington Public Works Construction Standards.