Tree Selection

Tree Selection

It is important to understand issues in selecting your tree for planting, these include the tree’s intended function, location, pests and locality.

The selection and placement of trees are two of the most important decisions a homeowner makes when planting a new tree or replacing a tree. Many trees may be around long after the person who plants them, so the implications of this decision can last lifetimes. Matching the tree to the area benefits both the tree and the people nearby.

At Greenwood Tree Care we find that one of the most common questions is: “Which kind of tree should I plant?” When asking this question a number of factors need to be considered:

Why are you planting the tree?

What do you hope to achieve ?

What size tree do you require and what is most appropriate from the planting area?

Are there any underground or overhead utility connections, driveways, structures or roads which must be considered?

What are the soil conditions in the area you intend to plant your tree? Is the solid of sufficient quality to support the tree to maturity?

How will you maintain the tree? Who will prune and fertilise your tree?

These are the kinds of questions that can help you choose the species and placement that will be right for you.

Tree Function

Trees that are large and healthy can increase property values and make your environment more pleasant. A deciduous tree that loses leaves in the autumn offers cooling relief from summer’s heat while allowing the sun in the winter to warm your home, making for more comfortable and less expensive year round living. An ornamental tree brings the beauty of flowers, leaves, and fruit. Evergreens with dense foliage can make an excellent windbreak or a screen for extra privacy. A tree that produces fruit provides food for you or your favourite wildlife. Street trees decrease glare from the pavement on hot sunny days, reduce rainwater runoff, filter and add oxygen to the air we breathe and improve quality of life in a community.

Size, Shape and Funtion

When choosing your tree, check it for structural abnormalities, damage, and poor health. Selecting the right shape and size tree to complement the desired function can reduce maintenance costs and increase the tree’s value in its surroundings. Larger mature trees generally offer the best economic and environmental returns. You can literally choose from hundreds of size and shape combinations depending on the restrictions of the planting area. A low, spreading tree may be planted under overhead wires or a narrow tall evergreen may provide privacy between two buildings.

Site Conditions

Selecting a tree that will thrive in a given set of site conditions is the key to long-term tree survival and reduced maintenance. Consider the following when selecting a tree:

soil conditions
exposure to sun and wind
space constraints
human activity
susceptibility to insects and disease

Soil Conditions

In recently built up areas the soil is often disturbed, shallow, and susceptible to drought through excessive drainage. Most trees will not prosper in these conditions without extra work and care. Soil samples can be taken from your garden to test for texture, salinity, and pH levels. The results of these tests can be used to determine which trees are suitable for your property and if possible, what to do to improve poor soil conditions.


The available sunlight will affect tree species selection for a given location. Most trees need full sunlight for proper growth, flowering and maturation. Certain species do well in, or even prefer, light shade but few species can prosper in a heavily shaded area. Exposure to wind is also an important consideration. Wind can dry out soil, damage the branches in tree crowns, and uproot trees which are shallow rooted or freshly planted. Extra maintenance, such as more frequent watering or staking may be necessary to allow young trees to establish on windy sites.

Space Constraints

There are many different issues that can limit the space available to the tree such as overhead or underground cables, buildings, roads, other trees etc. Make sure there is appropriate space for the tree you select, both above and below ground, in order to let it mature.


Trees need their roots to have access to oxygen in order to successfully develop. Poor drainage can limit the available oxygen and may kill the tree. If drainage is a problem on your property we can suggest possible solutions.

Susceptibility to insects and disease

Every tree has its own pest problems, and the seriousness can vary geographically. Pests may be life threatening to the tree and may be not, but selecting trees resistant to pests in your specific region is by far the best choice.

Human Activity

The effect that people have on trees is responsible for more problems that from any other source. These include soil compaction, underwatering, overwatering, vandalism, and planting the wrong tree These mistakes account for more tree deaths than any others combined.

Your personal preference as well as appropriate site considerations are both important when selecting the species of tree that is right for you. If this is done properly you can be responsible for adding a beautiful, and in time, mature tree to your surroundings to be enjoyed by people for generations to come.