Choosing the Right Tree

Three Leaves of Different Sizes and ShapesThe decision about what type of tree to plant is an important one. Most trees will outlive the people who plant them, and trees can require a steady investment of time and expense over their lifespan.

When choosing a tree, several essential steps will help you select the proper tree. Considering site conditions and constraints, the appropriate maintenance needs for the tree, and your overall expectations for the tree will help you make the right choice. Taking these steps will help focus your search to a list of candidate trees that will grow successfully on your property and meet your needs.

For more information, read our "Choosing the Right Tree" Brochure (PDF).

Questions To Ask When Buying a Tree

  • Does the tree need full sun, partial shade, or complete shade?
  • Will the tree withstand cold and hot weather?
  • Is the tree especially susceptible to diseases or to damage by insects?
  • Deciduous or evergreen?
  • Does it need a dry area or a wet area?
  • How big will the tree grow and how fast? (Most Important!)
  • Should it be planted close to a building or to other trees, or does it need open space?
  • Can I plant flowers under the tree? (No!)
  • Does it need special care the first few years?
  • Will it produce nuts, fruit, cones, or colorful leaves or flowers that I can use?
  • Will it give good shade in summer and winter?
  • Is the tree more smog resistant than other trees?
  • How far should I plant it from a sewer or drain line, sidewalk or driveway?
  • Can it serve as a windbreak, noise barrier, or visual screen?
  • Will it encourage wildlife and birds to live in the area?
  • Will it drop many seeds in the area, causing a crop of sprouts come Spring?
  • Is it noted for shedding leaves year round?
  • Will it fit in well with the area’s landscaping?
  • Is it a fire-adapted plant?
  • How sensitive is it to fire?