The Right Tree, The Right Place:
A Guide to Placing, Planting and Caring for your Tree

May 13 , 2004

Where to Plant?
Planning ahead is the most important step you can take to ensure that the time and money you invest in planting a new tree is well spent. The key to successful landscaping is to plant the right tree in the right place. To help you choose the right tree and the right site, here are several questions you should answer before you get started.

Sample residential landscape: A large tree is planted to shade the air conditioner and other trees are carefully located to shade windows from the morning and afternoon sun. Shrubs planted on all sides of the house help reduce the temperatures of the soil and walls. Be sure to prune shrubs under windows so they don't block cooling trade winds.

  1. What function will the tree serve? Along with providing shade, trees can be selected for their ability to provide a windbreak or privacy. You might also choose a tree for its ornamental or aesthetic value, for its ability to prevent soil erosion, or for the fruit it provides.
  2. What will the tree look like when it is mature? Find out how tall and what shape your tree will be when it is fully grown to make sure that it fits the space and purpose you have for it.
  3. How will the tree fit into its surroundings? When choosing your tree and planting area, keep in mind possible interference with overhead power lines and underground cable and sewers. Also, is the location far enough away from sidewalks, driveways, and neighboring properties? Will the tree block your view or drop leaves into a swimming pool?
  4. Will the tree grow well in your neighborhood? One easy way to answer this question is to take a look around your neighborhood. See how others have used trees in their landscaping design and find out what kinds of trees are growing well. Your local plant nursery can also suggest appropriate trees for your climate and soil conditions.
  5. What other positive or negative traits does the tree have? A plant professional or books about trees can provide information about the characteristics of specific trees. You may want to find out about the maintenance required. Some trees need very little attention while others may drop messy fruit or seed pods that result in more yard work than you want.
  6. Are there power lines nearby? If you are planting near power distribution lines that run through residential areas, the most important thing to remember is the 20 foot rule: trees and plants within 30 feet of power lines should not be higher than 20 feet tall when fully grown. Consult your nursery or landscape professional for trees whose mature height does not exceed 20 feet. (Planting around higher voltage transmission lines may require greater distance for clearance.) Select trees and plants within 20 feet of power lines that grow lower than 20 feet. You don't want your shade trees to interfere with safe, reliable electrical service.
  7. Proximity to fixed structures? Check the size of the tree before planting. Most large trees have even larger root systems and are water seekers. Swimming pools, hot tubs, house foundations, driveways, and sidewalks often are destroyed by the roots. Some root systems are 3 times the size of the above ground structure. Be safe. Get this information from experienced tree companies who have a successful history of planting trees.


Santa Ynez Valley Tree Care
P.O. Box 1147, Santa Ynez, California 93460

(805) 688-5580

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