Homeowners Guide to Buying Trees

Sadly, in our line of work, we’re often called upon to remove trees. But our greatest joy is in planting trees and helping them thrive.  If you are planning to add trees to your landscape, this guide will help you select the best trees for your property.
If you would like professional assistance, we source trees from fantastic local nurseries that will thrive in the soil and sun conditions at your home.  Contact us for Landscape Design or Tree Planting Services.

How to Select the Right Tree for Your Home

Planning Your Tree Landscape Design

Landscaping Design
There are quite a few factors to take into consideration when planning tree planting.  The first question to ask yourself is, do you want shade, fruit, flowers, nuts, or an ornamental look? Some combination of those factors? Once you’ve identified your goal, you can narrow down breeds by size, soil, and sun requirements.

Selecting a Tree to Match Your Soil Type

All trees have different soil tolerances. Some prefer sandy or clay soil like Gingko Biloba. Some prefer acidic soil like the American Dogwood, others prefer very wet soil like the Hazel Alder. Understanding the acidity, consistency, and level of moisture in your soil will help you determine which trees will best thrive on your property. A good nursery will be able to guide you to the options that fit your soil conditions as well.

Site Conditions

In addition to your soil conditions, it’s important to understand placement.  Knowing where your sewer or septic lines are is important as you want to avoid root invasion. You want to know how tall and wide your tree will be at maturity and be sure that it won’t loom dangerously over your home or drop excessive debris into your gutters.  It’s also important to be aware of any power lines above or below the ground that your tree may interfere with as well as gas lines. If your gas line has to be dug up and your tree’s main roots have to be dug up with it, that can be disastrous for your tree long-term.  Also, keep in mind that trees that love water should never be placed near a pool.

Selecting for Your Hardiness Zone

In NJ, we are primarily in zones 6a-7 a hardiness map should show you which zone your home is in and can guide you to plants that fit your zone.  A good local nursery should have plenty of options for your zone as they expect the trees to be planted locally, however, it’s important to double-check as some people buy ornamental trees in local nurseries that aren’t an ideal fit for the zone because they’re willing to give extra care and attention to the tree to help it thrive.  Make sure you’re aware of any additional needs your tree may have.

Sun and Wind Conditions

Some trees prefer shade, others partial shade, and still others, full sun. Depending on how much sunlight your yard gets each day, you will want to gear your tree selection to those that will thrive on your property. Wind conditions are also important to consider. If you live in an area that is prone to high winds, certain trees are not likely to last.

Selecting Your Tree From the Nursery

Nursery Trees 2
Once you’ve narrowed down what species of tree you would like that will grow to the right size and the right soil and sun and hardiness conditions that match your desired aesthetic and landscape design goals, it’s important to pick out a sturdy, healthy tree from the nursery. You want to look for a tree that has well-spaced branches and a straight trunk, no damage to the bark of the tree, as well as roots that grow straight from the trunk.  You may be tempted to look for the largest tree at the nursery, but it’s better to get a smaller one that will have more opportunity to take root and thrive. Beware of girdled roots. If the roots are wrapping around each other or around the root ball, that is a bad sign.
Once you’ve selected the right tree for your home and property, be sure to follow proper planting and care procedures to ensure your tree lives a long time.