Trees for life

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Trees are an integral part of our urban setting. They can be planted to provide shade and beauty, to screen an area and to cleanse our atmosphere. Unfortunately, trees can also be the cause of heated debate in communities and among neighbours. Having to remove healthy trees because they have grown too large is a disappointment. Planting the right tree in the right place for the right reason would eliminate many of the difficulties. To do this requires some knowledge of trees and how they grow.

Before choosing a tree you should know its size at maturity. It may not grow to that size in your lifetime but another generation may be saddened when they have to remove the tree. Oversize trees can endanger power lines, block neighbours’ views, create excess shade and endanger buildings during severe wind storms.

Tree hardiness is another factor to consider. Know your climate zone and the hardiness rating for your choice of tree. Choose a sheltered location when in doubt.

All trees are either deciduous or evergreen but both categories have some broadleaf and coniferous examples. Arbutus is a broadleaf evergreen and larch is a deciduous conifer. As a general rule it is best to choose deciduous trees for the sunny side of your house to provide shade in the summer and sun in the winter. Evergreens on the shady side will act as a windbreak in the winter. Evergreens also provide year-round privacy.

Some of the most valuable landscape trees provide spring blooms, summer shade, autumn colour and a winter branch structure for collecting snow. With greater density and smaller gardens, landscapers are turning to flowering shrubs trained as “standards” in place of the more traditional trees that grow too large and have to be pruned or removed after a few years of growth.

Try to avoid trees that have surface roots, invasive roots, water seeking roots and roots that produce sucker shoots.