Planning Your Landscape

April 20th 2006
Planning Your Landscape

Choosing a Tree

Trees can serve numerous landscape functions including beautification, adding privacy, reducing traffic noise, providing shade and energy conservation. Early Spring is the best time of year to transplant trees and shrubs, while they are dormant.

Choosing the right tree should be a well thought out decision. An inappropriate tree can be a constant maintenance problem or even a hazard. Consider your tree location and select tree species native to your area. They will be more resilient of local weather and soil conditions, and be more beneficial to wildlife than many non-native trees. Avoid exotic trees that can be invasive, crowd out native plants and are more prone to disease.

What to consider when choosing trees
  1. -  What purpose will this tree serve? Shade, Privacy or Design.
  2. -  How big will it get? When planting a small tree, it's often difficult to picture that in 20 years it could be shading your entire yard. Unfortunately, many trees are planted and later removed when the tree gets too big for it's site.
  3. -  No serious insect or disease problems. Does it have any particular insect, disease, or other problem that may reduce its usefulness? Certain insects and diseases can be serious problems on some desirable species in some regions.
  4. -  What is the average life expectancy of the tree? Some trees can live for hundreds of years. Others may live for only 20 or 30 years. Many short-lived trees tend to be smaller ornamental species. Short-lived species should not necessarily be ruled out when considering planting, since they can compliment your existing landscape.
  5. -  Leaf color or flowers and fruits? Some species bloom for short periods in the spring or fall. Other may have foliage that is reddish adding color to your landscaping year round.
  6. -  Attractiveness and appropriateness in your neighborhood. Some species are over-planted, increasing the natural diversity provides habitat for wildlife and limits the opportunity for a single pest to destroy all plants.
  7. -  Evergreen or deciduous? Evergreen trees will provide year round cover and shade. They may also be more effective as a barrier for wind and noise. Deciduous trees will give you summer shade but allow the winter sun to shine in. This may be a consideration for where to place the tree in your yard.
  8. -  Low maintenance requirements.
  9. -  Local availability - Check with your nursery or arborist and discuss different options that are native to your area.

Placement of Trees

Proper placement of trees is critical for their long-term survival preventing any potential maintenance issues. Invasive roots can lead to cracked driveways and planting large trees too close to your home can shorten your roof's longevity, clog gutters with debris and damage the perimeter drains of your home.

Check with local authorities about restrictions or bylaws pertaining to placement of trees. In many cases they may be able to provide you with a list of recommended tree species.

Before planting your tree, consider the tree's full maturity height. When the tree nears maturity, will it be too near your house, driveways, other large trees or structures.

Consider your neighbors. An evergreen tree planted may block the winter sun from your next door neighbor. Will it provide too much shade or overhang? Most plants require considerable amounts of sun; consider how the placement of trees will affect other plants. Will it obstruct driveways or sidewalks?

Will the trees you plant today become tangled in a power line in the future? A tree that comes into contact with a power line can be energized, creating a hazard for people at ground level. To prevent these hazards, property owners are encouraged to plant trees that will not cause a problem down the road. For your project, consider low-growing shrubs that attract attention to your yard and away from overhead lines.

Call before you dig. Regardless of your landscaping project, always identify utility lines. To have your utilities marked, call your local utility company.

Saskatchewan: SaskEnergy - Sask 1st Call

Alberta: ATCO Energy Sense - Alberta 1-Call

British Columbia - BC One Call

Manitoba - Manitoba Call Before You Dig

Ontario - Ontario One Call

Once you have made the proper selection you can now begin the task of planting a tree that can provide you with years of enjoyment. It's Just That Easy.