Plant with a Purpose: Trees

Landscaping trees are key part of any outdoor space.  When utilized correctly, your tree plantings can be one of your landscape’s biggest assets.  The value of a well thought out tree planting can go beyond simply looking nice.  As a landscape designer, I first determine the purpose of the tree before picking which specific tree to use.  The three most common purposes that homeowners approach me about are aesthetics, shade, and screening.

Aesthetics:

Choosing a tree based on aesthetics is simply personal preference, but make sure the tree fits the area it is being planted in.  One of the most common mistakes I see homeowner make is planting a tree or shrub that fits an area at the time of planting, but then grows so much that it engulfs the house at maturity.  If you want to add extra height to a tight area, consider a columnar shaped tree such as a ‘Taylor’ Juniper or ‘Slender Silhouette’ Sweetgum.  Filling the vertical space in your small garden helps add layers to an area where there isn’t much horizontal space to use.

When thinking about aesthetics, remember to pick trees that add a lot of interest.  ‘Ruby Falls’ Redbud is a great specimen tree with a spread of only 6 feet, and it has beautiful spring blooms and a burgundy foliage.  Japanese Maples are a great shade loving tree that are prized for their unique structure and branching patterns.  If you have a lot of deciduous plantings around your house currently, mix in an evergreen tree for some winter interest.  Bonsai ‘Thunderhead’ Pines are a unique tree that you can be sure you won’t see in everyone’s landscape.

Shade:

Shade trees are a great way to make and outdoor space more comfortable, and they can reduce your monthly energy bills.  For this application, picking the right tree is important, but it is even more important to pick the right location.  Plant your tree in a spot so that it will shade the southwest sun to get the most out of your plantings.  By casting shade over your air conditioner units or windows you can make your home more efficient.  Your patio and outdoor living spaces will become more usable during the hottest part of the day with a well-placed tree.  ‘Autumn Fantasy’ Maples are a popular shade tree because of their brilliant red fall colors.  Planting these trees out in the yard will also add a sense of scale to your property.

Screening:

Trees can also help hide unsightly views or create privacy.  Plantings masses of evergreens will make it so those views are hidden year-round.  ‘Green Giant’ Arborvitae is a great fast-growing screening evergreen.  I recommend staggering your screening trees and mixing in a couple varieties of trees to help keep it looking natural.  Your screening trees can even help reduce noise and wind.

When thinking about your next landscape project, remember to consider your purpose when choosing your trees.  Talking to the staff at Superior Garden Center or hiring a qualified designer, is a great way to get some guidance in picking the perfect tree.

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Rost, Inc. began in 1985 with a vision of creating stunning and unique landscapes for central Missouri. Founders Tim and Toby Rost began landscaping while attending the University of Missouri.