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Saturday, October 1, 2022
Growing Together: Now is an ideal time to plant a new tree
White Oak Tree Joanne Young
Ginko Tree Joanne Young

But do your research so you make the right choice for type and location

They say that the best time to plant a tree is 50 years ago, the next best time to plant a tree is now.

After going through another hot summer, the importance of planting trees is even greater – because trees are just not pretty to look at.

They improve soil and water conservation, store carbon, moderate local climate by providing shade, regulate temperature extremes, increase wildlife habitat and improve the land’s capacity to adapt to climate change.

Did you know trees can help lower your energy bills? During those chilly winter months, trees do us a great service by blocking strong win​ds from reaching our home, leading to reduced heating costs to the tune of 25 per cent.

And in the summertime, they offer shade that keeps your house cool. Properly placed trees also add value to your property. It is well proven that spending time near trees will reduce your stress levels and improve your overall health.

I don’t think anyone could argue with the benefits of having trees on your property or surrounding you. A properly placed tree is the key – choosing the appropriate tree for your space.  Here are some considerations when choosing the best tree for your garden.

Consider a native variety: Native trees are well-suited to our climate and soil types and, once established, require much less water and fertilizer than non-native species.

Native species of trees also play a vital role in attracting pollinators and songbirds. Some larger growing native trees include red oak, pin oak, white oak, sugar maple, red maple, black gum, Kentucky coffee tree and tulip tree.

Smaller-growing native species include sassafras, pawpaw, pagoda dogwood, blue beech, serviceberry and striped maple.

What’s your goal for the tree?: Do you want a tree for ornamental reasons such as providing flowers, fruit or beautiful fall colour? Do you want one that will provide shade?

If so, make sure you think about the tree’s placement ahead of time. If morning shade is your goal, you need to have space to plant the tree on the east to south/east side of a sitting area.

If you are wanting the tree to provide afternoon shade to a sitting area, you need to plant it on the south to west side of that same area.

Maybe you want trees to offer privacy from neighbours or unwanted views? How close to the fence do you want the tree? Keep in mind that some trees can have at least a 20-foot spread.

Planting a wide-growing tree too close to the fence would mean a large part of the canopy will be growing over the fence into your neighbour’s yard.

In that case, you may want to consider planting a narrow columnar-type such as pyramidal English oak, Dawyck beech, Armstrong red maple, or slender silhouette sweetgum.

What space do you have?:  Some of the most common issues I come across have to do with not choosing the appropriate tree for your space.

Most of the time, the overall height of the tree is not too much of an issue, but the width of the mature tree is.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “Well, it won’t get that size in my lifetime,” I would be well taken care of.

The truth is that they will grow faster than you think. So, do a little research prior to purchasing your tree. If possible, look at more mature trees to get an idea of the canopy size and shape, or look at pictures online to give you a better visual of what they will grow to be.

Your local garden centre should be able to help narrow down your choices. Just because a tree may be more columnar in form does not mean that you can plant it three to four feet out from the house.

By taking some time to do your homework, you will be better informed when you are ready to make your purchase and end up with a tree that will be able to live in its new home for many years to come

Fall is a great time to be planting new trees in your garden. With the soil still warm from the summer heat and the air temperatures cooling, these are the best conditions for optimal root growth.

Happy tree shopping.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.