Plant the right tree in the right place

When planning your spring plantings, you may want to add some trees and shrubs to your yard. Trees and shrubs can transform a boring landscape into a place of year-round beauty, and they can be a landscaping investment that pays dividends for many years…if you plant the right tree or shrub in the right place.

Here are some key things to consider before you plant:

  • Climate and hardiness. All plants do best in a climate like that of their native habitat. A palm tree won’t survive in chilly Minnesota, for example, but a spruce that’s native to Scandanavia can thrive in St. Paul. Just be sure to choose trees and shrubs suited to your USDA Hardiness Zone.
  • Sunlight and shade. When planting trees, consider not only how much sun they will receive in a particular location, but also how much shade they will cast on plants behind them. Most flowering trees and shrubs need plenty of sunlight to bloom abundantly.
  • Water and drainage. Some trees and shrubs are more sensitive than others to the availability of moisture, so you may want to plant those where they are easily reached with a garden hose or irrigation system. Because some, such as willows, naturally do well in moist soil, while others don’t like wet feet, be aware of the drainage in areas where you will be planting.
  • Soil. Like other plants, trees and shrubs generally grow best in loamy soil containing plenty of organic matter. If the native soil in your planting area is poor, you can improve it with soil amendments such as sphagnum peat moss and organic humus or with a premixed product.
  • Proximity to buildings, walls, fences. Larger trees particularly need to be positioned with consideration of their surroundings. Strategically placed trees can provide an effective windbreak for protection from winter winds – or shade to help keep the house cooler in summer – but you also do nopt want them brushing against the walls and roof when they mature.
  • Ultimate height and width. Proximity to surrounding structures is one reason to consider the height and width that trees and shrubs will reach, but it is also important to consider their potential size in relation to the other plants in your landscape. Attractive landscaping incorporates variety and balance in plants of different sizes and shapes.
  • Blooms and foliage colors. We generally think of trees and shrubs as green, but many have colorful blooms as well as foliage that may be purple, red, or bronze, depending on the season. Flowering trees and those with colored foliage should be selected to be compatible with the colors of other plants in your yard.

Armed with this information, your local nursery or garden center can easily help you choose the right trees and shrubs to meet your needs and provide long-lasting beauty in your yard.