Fall is here – plan for tree planting

Susan Pierce, Trees Atlanta, Bugwood.org
Put the kids to work planting trees this fall. Photo Susan Pierce, Trees Atlanta, Bugwood.org

Fall is a perfect time for planting trees. Yet, have you planned what kind of tree and where it should grow?

Whether you plant a tree for aesthetics, to increase your property value, to save energy by providing shade, or to watch birds while lounging in a hammock, it is important to plan ahead. Start by thinking about your site.

For trees to grow to maturity and provide the many benefits we expect from them, they must be well-matched to site conditions. Take a look at these important considerations:

  • Above- and below-ground conflicts, such as buried utilities or view corridors,
  • Expected changes, including any future needs of the site, and
  • How much maintenance and care the tree will require.

You also want to pick the best species for that site. List the tree attributes you’re looking for, such as crown shape or flower color. Also list attributes based on the site’s limitations. Will it need to tolerate a lot of shade from nearby trees or buildings? Is the soil often damp? Will there be room for the tree when it reaches its mature height?

Consider a species appropriate for your area of the state, too. Look to see if your city or county has a list of appropriate community trees.

Now comes the fun part! Shop nursery catalogs, visit a local nursery, or search online to find available tree species and the perfect tree for your site.


Ed Gilman of the University of Florida Agricultural Sciences has created a site evaluation form that can guide you through the selection process. To find a great volume of information about tree selection, planting, care, maintenance, and management, visit Gilman’s website.

The U.S. Forest Service has checklists to help before, during and after planting your tree.

Remember, you can always contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for additional guidance.

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