Trees & Shrubs
Trees add beauty and so much more to the home landscape. Trees around your home can reduce your heating and cooling costs, help clean the air, provide shelter from the wind and sun and add lasting value to your home.
Selecting a Tree
Tree selection should be a carefully thought out decision. Tree planting can be a significant investment in money and time. The right trees can provide you with years of enjoyment as well as a substantial increase to the value of your property. An inappropriate tree for your site can be a constant maintenance problem or even a hazard. Before you buy, research your choices on the internet, through your city or county extension agency or with the help of a qualified landscape designer or nursery professional.
Some questions to consider in selecting a tree include:
- What purpose will this tree serve? Trees can serve many landscape functions including beautification, screening of sights and sounds, privacy, windbreaks, shade and energy conservation and wildlife habitat.
- Is the species appropriate for your area? Experienced nurserymen will direct you to plants that will do well in our climate. However some mass marketers may carry plants that are not winter hardy in our zone or that may not survive in our soils. Be aware of microclimates. Microclimates are very localized areas where weather conditions may vary from the norm. A very sheltered yard may support plants not normally considered hardy to your region. On the other hand an open, windy site may be lethal to plants which thrive in your neighbor’s fenced and shaded yard. Soil types also affect the success of plants. Soils in the Salt Lake valley can vary from almost pure sand to hard, compacted clay. Most Utah soils are high Ph (alkaline). Some trees are not suitable for all soil types.
- How big will it get? When planting a young tree, it is often difficult to imagine that in twenty years it may be covering your entire yard. Unfortunately, many trees are planted and later removed when the tree grows beyond the dimensions allowed for it. Conversely, very small trees will not give the shade or wind protection provided by larger trees.
- What is the average life expectancy of the tree? Some trees can live for hundreds of years. Others are considered short-lived and may live for only 20 years or less. Many short-lived trees tend to be smaller, ornamental species. Short-lived trees species should not always be ruled out when considering plantings. They may have other desirable characteristics, such as size, shape, tolerance of shade, or fruit, that would be useful in the landscape. Many fast growing trees have short life expectancies but may still be useful in the new landscape until better, more long-lived trees mature.
- Does it have any particular ornamental value such as leaf color or flowers and fruits? Some species provide beautiful displays of color for short periods in the spring or fall. Other species may have foliage that is red, gold or variegated and can add color to your landscape year round. Trees bearing fruits or nuts can provide an excellent source of food for many species of wildlife. However, some people consider some fruit and nut bearing trees to be “dirty”.
- Does it have any particular insect, disease or other problem that may reduce its usefulness? Certain insects and diseases can be serious problems on some desirable tree species in some regions. Depending on the pest, control of the pest may be difficult and the pest may significantly reduce the attractiveness, if not the life span, of the plant. Other species, such as the Silver Maple, are known to have weak wood that is prone to damage in ice storms or heavy winds.
- How common is this species in your neighborhood or town? Some species are over planted. Increasing the diversity of tree plantings will provide habitat for wildlife and help limit the opportunity for a single pest to destroy all plantings. An excellent example of over planting was the American Elm. This lovely tree was widely planted throughout the United States. With the introduction of Dutch elm disease, thousands of communities lost all their street trees in only a few years.
- Is the tree evergreen or deciduous? Evergreen trees will provide cover and shade year round. They may also be more effective as a barrier for wind and noise. Deciduous trees will give you summer shade but allow the winter sun to shine in. This may be a consideration as to where to place the tree in your yard.