Tree Selection Tips
A shade tree is a big investment in your yard. And you’ll want to make a choice as to whether you want an evergreen or a deciduous tree. The difference between those is that evergreen are generally more dense, but they also stay green all year long. And, deciduous trees have a lot of variety in leaf shape and bark texture, along with a lot of other interesting aspects. But, they do lose their leaves in the winter. You can usually find most of that information on a plant tag, and it will tell you if it’s suited for our environment, if it can handle the cold, and the cold hardiness zone that it’s in. Generally you’ll want one that can survive a zone 5 for Kansas. And, it will list the kind of soil requirements it needs.
It’s really important when you’re picking out a tree to consider where you want it to go. Look around your yard and see what sort of environmental aspects there are. Do you have an area that holds water? You might need a plant that can handle that, rather than one that needs to be really dry. Do you have power lines going through the middle of your back yard? If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure that you choose a tree that has a mature height below those power lines.
You can also choose according to the type of form of plant that you want. Do you want one that’s very columnar and narrow, or do you want one that’s very full? Do you have a large back yard and want something that’s going to be around a hundred years? For instance, an oak can get very large and shady. There are lots of considerations for what you may want in a tree. We have a K-State publication that recommends a list for a variety of trees. They’re listed from small trees, medium trees, large trees, and extra large trees.
This feature story prepared with Cheryl Boyer, Kansas State University Research and Extension, Nursery Crop Production. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.