The climate is a good reason to take good care to plant the proper tree in your yard. Desired effect, space provided, watering restrictions, soil properties and maintenance cost are among others. Planting the proper type of tree in the proper site reduces the possibility of a hazardous situation down the road all while raising the value of your home.

It is good practice to formulate a checklist about the considerations needed to sustain a long-living healthy tree. The first part of this list is tree function. A large shade tree, if properly placed, can reduce summer cooling costs. Though, if it’s the proper shade tree, it could also allow sunshine through in the winter reducing heating cost. Fruit trees for food, flowering trees for beauty, dense evergreens for wind-breaks and privacy and street trees to reduce glare from pavement, reduce pollutants and improve the overall quality of life in your neighborhood are other functions of trees.

Form and size of a tree is another consideration to address in selecting the proper tree for a site. Selecting the right form (shape) to compliment the desired function can significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase the tree’s value in the landscape. When making a selection about form it is also good to consider mature tree size.

Selecting a tree that will thrive in a given set of site conditions is the key to long- term tree survival. The following is a list of the major site conditions to consider before selecting a tree for planting:

  • Hardiness zone – 10 for Coastal Souther California (for a good reference of trees that will grow in this zone check out Hardiness Zone Map.   Also your local department of agriculture, nursery, and certified arborist could give good recommendations.
  • Soil conditions
  • Exposure (sun and wind)
  • Human activity
  • Utility lines (over-head and under-ground)
  • Drainage
  • Space constraints

Pest problems are a major consideration when selecting a tree for your landscape. Insect and disease organisms affect almost every tree and shrub species. Every plant has its particular pest problems and the severity varies geographically. These may or may not be life threatening to the plant. You should try to select plants resistant to pest problems for the area. Your local ISA certified arborist (like at Continental Tree Care), nursery, or cooperative extension office/agent can direct you to information relevant to problem species for this area.

Species selection – personal preferences play a major role in the selection process. After doing a thorough site analyses, you are ready to select a species for the site you have selected. You should make sure you utilize the information you have gathered about your sight conditions and balance them with the aesthetic decisions you make related to your personal preferences. If your site conditions tell you that the species you selected won’t do well under those conditions, don’t be disappointed when the tree doesn’t perform the way it was intended to. If you are having difficulty answering any of these questions on you own, contact your local ISA certified arborist, tree care professional, garden center or county extension agent for assistance. Their assistance will help you to plant the “right tree in the right place.” IT is better to get them involved early and make the right decision so to avoid having to call them later to ask if you made the wrong decision.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a world wide professional organization dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation for trees and to promoting research, technology and the professional practice of arboriculture.

For more information contact Continental Tree & Land Care (949) 842-8827