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Archive date:  October 19, 2006

Choosing the Right Tree

Consider your situation before your choose

Shade trees create inviting resting areas on hot summer days, they shade homes from the summer heat, and they create a home for wildlife (the desirable and the not so desirable.) But where is the best location for a shade tree in your yard? Before you dig a hole consider the following:

1. Are there overhead power lines that would interfere with the growth of the tree? Large trees should be placed a distance of at least half the mature width of the tree away from overhead lines. For instance, red maples may reach 60 feet in width so they should be placed at least 30 feet away from power lines to prevent the branches from growing into the lines.

2. Do you want the tree to shade your home to help with your cooling bill? If so, the same distance rule applies. Either that or the tree will need to be pruned properly so the branches do not touch the walls or roof of the house. Any plant that physically touches a house is an invitation to all kinds of insects and pests to come on in.

3. Southwest sunshine will warm a house in the winter. Plant deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in winter) on the southwest side of your home and Mother Nature will cool your home in the summer and heat you home in the winter. Evergreen trees are best placed on the northeast side of a house, especially in areas that get strong winter winds. Evergreens will block the biting winds, keeping your home warmer on the northeast side.

4. How tall of a tree do you want, and when it gets close to mature height are you going to be tempted to top it? If you are absolutely certain that a 60 to 80 foot tree will fall on your home then please do not plant a tree that will get that tall near the house. Too many homeowners become fearful of their beautiful trees and top them in order to reduce height. Tree topping is the worst thing a human could possibly do to a tree. It weakens the tree, puts the root system into shock, creates a greater danger of falling limbs, and is just plain ugly. If you already have a tree that is too tall, hire a certified arborist that maintains a ‘no tree topping’ policy to properly prune the tree to reduce the height. It is possible to reduce the height of a tree without topping it.