Things to Know When You Buy a Tree

As you plan your landscaping, whether for a new or existing garden/lawn area, you might want to give careful consideration when you buy a tree to feature in your garden. Some things will be completely obvious to anyone familiar with growing plants, while others might be harder to figure out.

Broad Basics

When selecting your unique tree, the one that will be a perfect fit for your backyard, garden, lawn or drive perspective, there are several absolutely basic considerations. These include: Climate, soil type, yearly rainfall, and available sunlight.

  • Climate: When applying the concept of climate to growing trees average temperatures as well as probable highs and lows must be considered. Unless you plan to grow your tree in a container that can be moved in and out of a protective environment, your climate growing zone is a prime consideration. Do you live in an area where winters are extremely cold? Are your summers extremely hot? Is your climate more temperate, shifting between moderately cold and moderately warm months? Could your area be considered tropical, subtropical, or desert? Answering these questions will impact the kind of plants, especially trees, that you wish to grow in your landscape area.
  • Soil Type: Although soil can be amended from alkaline to acid, or coaxed into a gentle medium pH, it is a primary consideration when growing trees. Most trees that are planted in out-of-door soil have deep roots that will probably reach well beyond any spaces where you have applied soil amendments. In addition to pH, whether the soil is sand, clay, loam, or some combination, will impact the health and general growth of large plants such as trees.
  • Rain Fall: Each tree species you plant is a unique tree. It will respond differently to yearly rainfall or to irrigation arrangements. If you live in an area that tends toward being dry much of the year, this might limit your tree selection. Likewise, some trees do not do well in climates that remain damp much of the year. You can avoid disappointment by selecting a tree that fits your location.
  • Sunlight: In an era of increasingly tall buildings and general crowding of people, animals, and plants, fighting for a place in the sun takes on new meaning. This struggle occurs naturally in forest settings, the stronger trees being able to crowd out neighbors in their upward climb. Too little sun can encourage long, slender “leggy” stems. Conversely, some trees are designed to be understory trees, and will wilt or sunburn if they receive too much strong sunlight during the day.

Ecological Considerations

Every amazing tree in the world is a small ecology all on its own. Large trees often house birds, bees, and a variety of small animals and insects. Some trees need companion species for their best growth, including native pollinators. Certain species, if removed from their native habitat, will require hand pollination to produce seed. Others are amazingly adaptable, attracting pollinators of all sorts. It is handy to know, for example, if placing a beehive near your feature tree would increase its yield of fruit.

Trees have a below-ground ecology as well as above ground. For example, the glauca grass tree (Xanthorrhoea glauca) requires a symbiotic mycorrhiza to  help it extract nutrients from the soil. Without its below-ground buddy, it can slowly sicken and die, even if it was a healthy tree when transplanted into your landscaping area. One way to avoid this sad outcome is to research your architectural tree carefully before purchasing. If in doubt, be sure to ask your nurseryman about special considerations for your unique tree.

A third important consideration when it comes to tree ecology is how it fits into the overall ecology of a location. If your selected tree is a native to your area, you are probably home free. Imported species can be a serious consideration as some require extra attention to keep them from becoming invasive. For example, olive trees, even though they are a wonderful tree to have, can over run a local area in some parts of Australia. To keep from becoming part of a problem, you might need to be extra vigilant about cleaning up the fruit and policing your grounds for straying sprouts when growing olive trees.

A final, but extremely important consideration, is whether your preferred architectural tree is a protected species. Should this be the case, you can usually still grow one as part of your landscape. However, you should be extra certain that the nursery from which you buy your tree is licensed to handle that particular species. We are proud to note that, among other beautiful and unique trees, we are licensed to manage grass trees.

Size of the Tree

Trees come in all sorts of sizes. For example, Queensland bottle trees (Brachychiton rupestris) grow to be extremely large. This makes them an excellent area shade tree for park or pasture areas or as a feature tree to be grown along an avenue. However, they are not well suited to a small backyard where you might desire other vegetation.

For smaller venues, the Native Australian Finger Lime (Citrus australasica) might be a better choice. Not only will you have a smaller tree, growing perhaps six or seven feet tall, you also have the probability of being able to harvest tasty seasonal fruit that is nearly unique to Australia! Moreover, these smaller trees, although they do like to receive some sun, are essentially understory trees and can deal with partial shade.

Pets and Children

When selecting feature trees for your landscape environment, whether your garden will be accessed by pets or children should also be a consideration. Some supremely beautiful species are simply not pet or child friendly. Be sure to let your nurseryman know if your garden will be frequented by furry or human children. He or she will be more than happy to help you discover kinds of trees that will be friendly to both or to give directions for keeping your plant babies separate from your more mobile warm-blooded family.

Trees in Your Landscape

Regardless of species, size, or type, trees in your landscape should include serious consideration before making a selection. Trees grow slowly. When you plant a tree, you plant for the future.


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