Choosing the Right Tree for Your Yard

Now that the devastating tornado has forces us all to make a decision to plant a tree in your yard, where are you to put it? Here are some general suggestions for evaluating this important decision. It is a most important decision that will last a lifetime. A tree is a major investment and a semi-permanent one as most trees outlive your average human’s life span. And even those that are short lived, meaning 20 to 30 years, will be an eyesore and not the perfection it should be if it’s not in the right location.

The following must be carefully evaluated – First, how big is your yard? I have four acres with my house right smack dab in the center providing me with tons of room for very large trees, I’m talking 80-100 feet high. We planted these just far enough from the house that during a winter blast any branches thrown off would not reach my dwelling. There’s nothing scarier than a branch through a window during a hurricane, tornado or a nor’easter. Ask Dorothy Gail from Kansas, she’ll tell you.

So, let’s say your front yard is 100 feet by 100 feet. If you plant a tree on the edge of your property line you could have an 80-90 foot tall tree without it being in danger of hitting the home if the worst thing happens and it should fall entirely, not a likely thing to happen, by the way so don’t freak out. That was our general rule for planting around the house. But since there are so many wonderful trees under thirty feet tall there was no need to place the truly majestic tree anywhere near the house. Thirty feet tall is a very friendly size indeed for the average half or quarter of an acre plot.

So, what if you have a postage-stamp sized yard? Does that mean you cannot have a tree? Absolutely not! There are many trees for the small yard, those barely reaching twelve feet. This is where placement becomes crucial. Even a small tree will lose its welcome if it’s not placed where it can grow without causing you problems down the line.

For instance, if you like the view of your neighbor’s beautiful landscape and perennial gardens, then we don’t suggest you place a tree that will eventually block your view. We won’t want to plant a tree in the view shed of anything we don’t want blocked, like our neighbor’s rusty car in a thicket of brier roses, or our other neighbor who for whatever reason likes to stare at you as you work in the garden. A series of small ornamental trees, like Crabapple or Dogwood, to the rescue..

You should always remember that the tree should accentuate the house not detract from it. If you live in a tiny cottage you wouldn’t want to plant a huge, Locust or Green Ash tree, which would swallow it up making it virtually invisible. No, for the small dwelling we must choose a tree with similar proportions and placing it at a good distance from the house, say fifteen feet away if the tree chosen is of similar height. The Flowering Shadblow tree would be perfect next to a cottage-type house. For the imposing edifice an equally imposing tree keeps things in scale. Putting identical Sugar Maples on either side of such a home would bring the focus back to the house instead of detracting from it.

There are also driveways, sidewalks and the foundations of your house to consider. Planting trees away from these things will eliminate possible problems down the line. The tree you plant today may be small now but sooner than you think it will grow along with its root system and get into things you’d rather they didn’t.

Do you get a nasty blast of wind in winter causing your windows to rattle? A tree or row of trees planted just beyond the house will help block that cold blast keeping your heating costs down. Is your home too hot in summer? Again a tree planted beside the home can bring free air-conditioning.

Do you get the picture? You must first look at your house, your yard and its surroundings to best evaluate where the tree should go for optimal enjoyment, keeping in mind the size of the tree at maturity even if it will be many a year before it gets there. There is nothing worse than a tree, which needs to get lopped down to stay in an unreasonable size. The right tree for the right place keeps everyone happy.

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