published Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Several factors go into tree selection

Pat Lea
  • photo
    Japanese maple tree.
    Photo by Patrick Smith.
    enlarge photo

Q I am planning for a new tree. What is the best way to go about choosing one, and when should I have it planted?

A Like with all landscape choices, you should start with your location and all those variables first. Note the soil conditions, the wind or exposure conditions and the surroundings before you even visit your nursery center.

Make a list of your own preferences as well. For example, do you want a small or large growing tree? What about texture -- big leaves or small, evergreen or deciduous, fruiting or flowering? Sort out your ideas.

Take a photo of the area if you are unsure about a choice. Nursery staff may notice details that you have missed.

Early fall is the best time to narrow down the possibilities. Drive through your own neighborhood and note, maybe photograph, trees that appeal to you. If you are not sure of the name of the tree, pick up a fallen leaf and keep it in your notebook. Notice the current size and shape (round, oval, narrow, spreading, umbrella) and where the tree is growing. Does its fall color suit your plan?

Remember that a tree with beautiful fall color on the very sunny west side of a house may not produce the same color on a deeply shaded north wall.

You have several weeks to create your notes. Visit Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center if you need to see well-grown specimens of a great variety of trees. Take your notes with you to the nursery, and the staff can help you to choose a tree that will fulfill all your requirements.

In our area, you can plant most trees from fall through the winter into early March.

Email Pat Lea at lea.pat@gmail.com.

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