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Colusa County Master Gardener’s: Tree Selection


Published: December 9, 2015 • By: UCCE Colusa County Master Gardeners

It’s that time of the year, tree planting time. Fall/winter is the best time to plant because the roots have more time to develop before warm summer temperatures arrive.

It is very important to select tree species that are suitable for the site and intended purpose of the planting. Well-chosen trees can produce many benefits, such as increased property values and energy savings, while poorly-chosen trees can be costly.

First determine the real function of the tree. Is it for shade, wind protection, privacy, aesthetics, or architectural elements?

Decide between a deciduous or evergreen tree. Deciduous trees drop their leaves in winter, while evergreen species retain leaves throughout the year.

Evaluate the best location for planting. The site should have enough space for the mature height and width.

Choose a tree based on its size at maturity. Large, fast-growing trees may not fit many residential yards, so consider small to medium size trees. Don’t plant large trees under power lines or next to walkways, patios and foundations since their roots are wide spreading.

Trees can be selected for interesting leaf/flower color and shape, bark patterns and branching characteristics.

Select trees that are tolerant of local insect and disease problems and avoid those that are commonly susceptible.

A large deciduous shade tree on a west or south side of the house can provide shade and reduce utility costs by up to 15%. Large trees should be placed at least 15 feet away from permanent structures.

Trees provide a habitat for wildlife by giving shelter and providing food. Selection of a fruit or nut tree can provide spring flowers, autumn leaf color and a harvest for wildlife and humans.

When choosing a tree, research local recommendations. Mature trees located in parks and private plantings provide a realistic vision of a tree species and its characteristics.

Visit the UC Master Gardener Program of Colusa County website for a list of recommended trees for our area: www.cecolusa.ucanr.edu