Planning Trees for Your Climate and Location

Trees come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and climate needs. Australia has nearly any sort of climate you can imagine, depending on your altitude, nearness to the ocean, or distance inland. The same planning principles work in other parts of the world as well. Before you decide on trees for your home or business landscape, it is a good idea to look around at the trees that are successfully growing in your area.


Feature Trees in Your Landscape

Feature trees are trees that add a unique element to your landscape. They might be tall with a unique appearance, such as the Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton Rupestris) or they could be low, ground hugging vegetation such as the agaves or golden barrel cactus. Mid-level shrubs such as the Native Australian Finger Lime or slow growing yucca trees.

Feature trees can be a conversation piece, such as the dragon trees with their red sap and odd, snaky topknots of fleshy leaves. Sometimes trees can start out small, like the tree aloes, but then soar to immense heights.


Architecture Trees

Architecture trees are almost always tall trees with an attractive, sturdy shape. They provide shade, and sometimes act as a windbreak. They might be deciduous like the Queensland Bottle Trees or they might be evergreens, like flowering gum trees (corymbia ficifolia) or Wollemi Pine (Wollemia Nobilis). They are often also feature trees, or they might be a row of trees defining a drive or hedge row.


Selecting Trees for Your Location

When selecting trees for your location, your first consideration is size. You will want to think about the size of your yard/lawn or lot. Next, you will want to consider proximity to any buildings, sidewalks, water systems, or other architectural features. Trees are lovely, but their roots are intended to dig deep into the soil, bringing up moisture, minerals, and other nutrients from deep in the earth. When they drop leaves, petals, or needles (depending on the type of tree) these nutrients are shared with garden plants that have shallower root systems.

Unfortunately, those deep digging roots can find their way into sewer systems, irrigation systems, and even right through the smallest crack in a foundation. The best remedy for these habits is the think about how big the tree might become and, by extension, how extensive its root system might become.

As a generally rule, a tree’s roots extend slightly beyond the reach of their branches. Even if your tree is currently a baby, you are well advised to think about how big it will be in the future. Keep in mind that when you plant a garden, you plant for tomorrow; but when you plant a tree, you plant for the future. Planning for a happy, healthy tree that will not need to be moved or cut down ten or twenty years after you settle it into place takes some thought – and perhaps even a crystal ball. Just kidding. Prognostication devices are not usually gardening equipment.


Thinking About Your Climate

Climate change notwithstanding, if you visit your local library or consult the Internet, you can usually discover local weather patterns for your location. For example, if you intend to plant citrus trees, such as the Tahitian Lime in Florida, a look at the weather will tell you how often an area might get hurricanes, and how many devastating frosts have been in that area.

If you have purchased a piece of country property near Sydney, Australia, you might be aware that the summers are hot and dry. Large trees, such as the Queensland Bottle Tree, can help shade your home. But if you are not looking for something that big, you might turn to olive trees (Oleo Europaea) because they are known to grow well in the area without a lot of maintenance. However, you should keep in mind that they do grow fruit each year. Whether you plan to use the olives or not, you will probably need to plan for some clean-up maintenance to help prevent the birds from spreading the seeds far and wide.

Perhaps having fruit trees in your backyard is your goal, and you dearly love mangos. Mango trees do best in tropical or subtropical areas where there is plentiful rainfall, or at least a plentiful supply of water for irrigation.


Many Wonderful Decisions about Designer Trees

These are only a few of the many wonderful decisions you will need to make when planning your landscape with designer trees. Size, shape, location, compatibility, best trees for your climate, and your personal preference will all become a part of your eventual design.

Planning ahead will not fully guarantee success, but it will help prevent the most obvious difficulties, and will usually bring about positive results.


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