Even though summer is winding down and fall is upon us, now is a good time to visualize and plan for any yard or landscaping projects you may want to do next spring. We get a lot of calls in the spring from people wanting to know what types of trees they should buy and where they should be planted. This weeks blog post covers some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to selecting trees. Hopefully this helps you make some decisions when you are planning next springs projects.

Planting a diversity of trees is a way to protect your investment. After the American Elm trees started to succumb to Dutch elm disease in the 70’s, cities and homeowners alike replaced the majority of them with Ash trees. Now Emerald Ash Borer is here in Minnesota and it is killing the ash trees and costing cities throughout Minnesota a large sum of money to remove and replace the ash tree population. There is no way to predict what or when the next disease or insect is coming. Therefore, it is very important to plant multiple species of trees.  In the event something does come along and kill the trees at least it will only affect the specific species that the disease or insect attacks. It has been my observation that Maple trees have been the latest planting craze. Be cautions of exclusivity and remember to plant a variety of trees! A few suggestions based on my favorites; Kentucky Coffee Tree, Pagoda Dogwood (low growing tree) Norway Spruce, Eastern Red Cedar, Hybrid Elm, Kentucky Yellowwood, Eastern Red Bud, Swamp White Oak, River Birch. Sugar Maple. Each of these trees is unique in size and shape.

I have been working in the tree industry for nearly 20 years and one thing I have noticed is that the science of trees is much like the science of human health care. Trees are living growing things and therefore have many similarities to we humans. Human adults are very much shaped by their childhood upbringing including the foods we eat, the care given us, and the air we breathe. Trees are the same way. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves when planting trees and forget about what a tree is going to look like in 20 years. We forget to look up and around and see if there are obstacles around that may impede trees in the future. So, step one in planting is to choose the right tree for the right location. Step two is proper planting of tree. This gets a bit more detailed than digging a hole and plopping the tree in. A good rule of thumb is digging the hole 3 times the diameter of the root ball to ensure an adequate space for roots growth. The biggest mistakes I see when removing dying trees 15 years after someone has planted are:

  1.  The tree was planted too deep and mulch was mounded up against the trunk causing root and/or trunk rot.
  2. Circling roots were not removed causing the root system to girdle the tree-essentially cutting off the transportation of water and minerals to the crown of the tree.
  3. The wrong tree was chosen and planted in the wrong location.