Trees add life, color, and curb appeal to a home. Trees also serve utilitarian purposes: they shade a home during the summer, which reduces the demand on an air conditioning system, and protects a home from winter winds. A home owner needs to do some research before purchasing and planting a tree in their front yard, because trees come in so many shapes, sizes, with various requirements for their care.
Determine the area of your front yard in which you want to plant a tree. Measure the distance from the front of your home, sidewalk, property line, drive way, electrical lines, plumbing lines and gas lines. Write down these measurements.
Find out what gardening zone you are in (Resources, 1). North America is divided into west-to-east bands, according to the average coldest temperature in that region. In the United States, the zones range from 2 (in Minnesota) to 11 (in the southern tip of Florida). It is important to know what gardening zone you are in, because all plants and trees have a specific cold-hardiness that dictates which gardening zones they grow in.
Test your soil drainage. Dig a 12-inch deep hole in your front yard, where you want to plant your tree. Fill the hole with water. If there is no water left in the hole 30 minutes later, the soil is quick-draining. If water remains in the hole 1 hour later, the soil is water-retaining. Most trees prefer well-drained soil, though some do thrive in water-logged conditions. Write down your soil drainage test results on your paper.
Test your soil's pH level with a soil pH meter. Some trees prefer to grow in acidic conditions, while others prefer alkaline soil. Again, write down the results on your paper.
Decide what variety of tree you want to plant in your front yard. Some options to consider are flowering trees, evergreen trees (which keep their leaves all year-round), deciduous trees (which drop their leaves during the fall), and fruit or nut trees. Write down the type of tree you want, as well as your second choice. (For instance, "First choice is a flowering tree, second choice is a fruit tree.")
Visit a reputable nursery (not a big-box gardening center), and talk to a tree specialist. Discuss your results and preferences with the tree specialist, and have him or her decide which of your classification choice will best grow in your specified area and soil conditions, within your gardening zone.
Purchase the decided-upon tree from a nursery, rather than a gardening center. Nurseries typically grow their own stock, and have a better understanding of the requirements for the proper health of each plant. You are more likely to get a good, hardy tree specimen from a nursery as opposed to a garden center, where their employees usually know little about horticulture. At a nursery, you also build a rapport with the tree specialist, so that you can call with any concerns or questions about your new tree.