How do I pick the right tree for the right place?
Special to the Whig
We love our trees, and for many reasons. Trees are a symbol of strength and beauty, and help connect us to Nature. Our trees, even in homeowner and urban settings, provide bed and breakfast for some other living organisms.
Trees are part of the solution to many of our environmental problems, because they sequester carbon and release oxygen. One large tree can provide enough oxygen supply for four people for one day, so you can see how important our forests are to sustainable living. (An interesting fact: The Amazon rainforest provides the Earth with 20 percent of its oxygen supply.)
So you want to plant a tree? There are some things to consider before you run out and purchase one. Checklist: Hardiness zone for your perfect pick. Types of trees: shade, evergreen, fruit, ornamentals, flowering and nuts. Type of soil you have: moist, dry, rich, sandy loam or clay. Trees usually grow the majority of their roots in the top 30 inches of soil, called the living layer, where soil nutrients, water and microorganisms can be found. Sun exposure: Full sun, part sun or total shade. Most importantly, available space. Will the mature size of your choice tree fit in the space underground. Will it fit in the space above ground, free from obstruction of buildings and power lines? The subject of space will be a factor to consider right after you choose the type of tree you desire. Large canopy trees are lovely and are extremely important to our ecosystem, but they require quite a lot of space.
Maryland’s state tree, the quercus alba (white oak), is on the top of the list for species support, but not every homeowner lot has the space for these large beauties.
In mature trees, the root systems will extend 1.5 times the height of the tree, or two to three times the width of the drip line (width of the crown). An oak tree at maturity can reach heights of 75 to 100 feet and a canopy of equal width.
Another very popular species, the acer rubrum (red maple), grows to heights of 40 to 100 feet, and has a crown spread of 30 to 75 feet. These are certainly not small yard trees.
There are, however, more compact trees to consider. These are known as sub-story trees — those that grow under 25 feet in height and have a smaller spread. Among these are popular fruit and flowering tree choices.
Planting trees at your residence will add years of added performance in several areas. Trees provide shade, a privacy screen and windbreak to help better maintain the temperature of your home. Trees also work to slow and filter storm water, assisting in your contribution to water conservation and Chesapeake Bay watershed health. Not to mention that trees can add aesthetic value to the value of your real estate.
And by choosing a native, you can help sustain the area’s wildlife. Once established, these trees require less care. Helpful websites: arbordayfoundation.org ISA-Arbor.com treebenefits.com Each week, a Cecil County Master Gardener will write in to share their gardening experiences or answer a gardening question. To submit questions to the Master Gardener, send them to email@example.com.
The (white oak) is a large-canopy tree that can reach heights of 75 to 100 feet when fully mature.