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Tree Selection Tips


All trees are not created equal

While any tree can contribute greatly to the overall look of your home, you still need to select the right variety and make sure it is planted in the proper location. Trees are a long-term investment; you or your landscape designer must take time to carefully plan a tree’s place within the landscape before planting. For example, you might want to avoid planting any large fruited trees close to pools, spas and decks, as they can potentially stain or damage water features and hardscapes.

Any new tree plantings should be made at a distance from any pool or spa. Exactly how close you can plant the tree depends on its variety and growth habits. Any holes dug for planting should be at least two to three times the width of the root ball. The top of the root flare (level of the soil around the base of tree) should be at the same height as the surrounding soil. This will set the tree a minimum distance from the pool or spa under ideal conditions.

To avoid future problems, learning as much as possible about the tree species’ characteristics before planting is very important. Ask about the tree you are interested in and research it carefully. The following tips will help you narrow down your options.

Plan for the future

Before picking a tree, investigate the size it will be when it is fully grown. Ensure the height and width of the mature tree will not overpower or become lost amidst other landscape elements (e.g. pools, spas, gazebos, etc.).

Pick your spots

As previously mentioned, avoid planting trees with fruit near pools, decks and paving. Also steer clear of planting trees too close to your house. In these cases, consider using smaller trees or shrubs. Examine the sunlight and shade the site receives and choose varieties based on their tolerance to those conditions.

Location, location, location

Find out if the selected tree variety is well suited to your landscape’s geographic location. Although many trees are quite robust and capable of surviving in many places, not all of them will flourish under all conditions. Consult with friends, neighbours or professionals about what has worked in nearby yards. Also look for trees that are indigenous to the area, to help ensure healthy and strong growth.

With so many new choices and cultivars available, it is always possible to find a variety that will fit your landscape’s requirements, both now and as the tree matures.

[BIO:] Jeff McMann is a certified International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) arborist based in the Greater Toronto Area, with nearly 30 years of industry experience in landscape construction and maintenance. He is also a graduate of the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture. McMann can be reached at

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