Can you imagine what the tree you just planted will look like in thirty, forty or fifty years from now? Will it block a view, grow into wires, break in a storm or interfere with a sidewalk? These are questions best asked before a tree is planted. Look around your neighborhood and take a critical look at the trees you see and how they may have been planted haphazardly. Evaluating your planting site before you plant will save time, money and headaches in the future. Consider the following questions as you do some homework and plant the right tree.
Is the tree hardy enough? Most of Charlotte County is in hardiness zones 9B and 10A, so only trees recommended for these areas will be dependably hardy. “Microclimates” near buildings, other structures or bodies of water, may exist that provide warmer than normal spots. What is the light exposure at this site? Check the site out for full sun versus part shade to full shade. Determine if the proposed planting site has six or more hours of sun, two to five hours or less than two hours. How is the soil? The pH, nutrient level and visual analysis is very beneficial to know. A soil test is definitely in order especially in our residential-fill soils. In the same vein, check out the drainage situation and the water table. Many trees cannot tolerate standing water. What other “hardscapes” are in the vicinity? Keep in mind nearby structural considerations such as sidewalks, driveways, and walls. Is there a swimming pool, septic tank or drain field within fifty feet? Are there street lights and overhead wires close to the planting area? Keeping branches pruned away from lights and wires must be considered. Do you really want to plant trees that drop messy fruit, leaves or twigs? Are the trees that you are planning to plant susceptible to breakage? Some trees are just more hurricane-tolerant than others.
Other considerations may include determining salt levels regarding salt-tolerance, and the presence of underground utilities – always call 811 before you dig. There are many more questions to ask yourself. Our UF/IFAS publication entitled, “Site Evaluation Form for Selecting the Right Tree” – https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/site-evaluation.shtml – will lead you through twenty-seven considerations to help analysis your site. The more analysis you do before you plant, the better off trees in your landscape will do in respect to long term health, ease of maintenance and future safety issues. For more information on all types of tree issues, you can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS Extension – Charlotte County. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Connect with us on social media. Like us on Facebook @CharlotteCountyExtension and follow us on Instagram @ifascharco.
Resource: Gilman, E. F. Gilman, E. F. (2020) Site evaluation form for selecting the right tree. University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.