How to Choose a Tree to Plant


Selecting a tree for your yard requires more consideration than when choosing a shrub or bush. Transporting and planting a tree involves more labor than a smaller plant, and if the tree dies because you chose one not adaptable to your region or soil, you are out both time and money. Yet, if the tree thrives and you find it was not what you wanted, you will discover that removing an established tree involves significant effort and expense.

Step 1

Identify the tree's use. Decide if it is primarily to provide shade, ornamentation or fruit.

Step 2

Consider the desired mature height of the tree. You might want a tree under 25 feet at maturity or over 50 feet.

Step 3

Ask yourself if you are in a hurry for the tree to reach its mature height. Some trees are fast growing, while others are moderate or slow growing.

Step 4

Take a soil sample to determine if the soil is acid or alkaline.

Step 5

Evaluate the exposure to sunlight at the location intended for the tree. Check to see if buildings or other trees or structures block the sunlight, or if the location receives intense sunshine.

Step 6

Decide what tree shape you prefer, such as rounded, weeping, spreading, conical or columnar.

Step 7

Determine how much litter you want to clean up, or if you mind thorns. Some trees produce a great deal of litter, while others produce less. Some trees have thorns, which can be hazardous for pets and children.

Step 8

Draw a map of your yard, noting the placement of buildings, swimming pool, septic tank or other structures that might be disrupted by tree roots. When selecting a tree, consider its root system, as some grow out, while others are shallow or grow straight down.

Step 9

Determine if you need a tree that is drought resistant or requires frequent irrigation. If you live in the desert, you will want a drought-resistant tree.

Step 10

Visit a local gardening center, or contact your county's extension program, and find out what trees grow in your area that best meet your criteria, as established in the previous steps. While you may not be able to find a tree that grows in your area and meets all items on your list, find one that best suits your needs.


  • "Trees"; James Crockett; 1972
  • Arbor Day Foundation
Keywords: choosing trees, selecting trees, choose a tree

About this Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University of Fullerton.