When I look back on a lifetime (almost) of doing tree work, I have come to the conclusion that if everybody would take my free advice, I probably wouldn’t have a job.
Well, maybe that is stretching things a bit, but I digress…
If you find yourself outliving a tree you personally planted, except for in a few instances, something is amiss. You may have picked the wrong tree for the right spot, or the right tree for the wrong spot, or worse, the wrong tree for the wrong spot!
Take everyones go-to favorite for a fast growing coniferous evergreen hedge, yep you guessed it, the Leyland Cypress. Cheap, plentiful, and fast growing, but they don’t have a warning label that should read: Unless You Live in an Area Frequented by Seagulls, You are Setting Yourself up for DISASTER!!!
Leylands love an ocean view, and they loathe our hot, dry, desert-like summers. The summers in the Rogue Valley east of the coast range gives them a half-life!
Conifers as a general rule don’t require much maintenance except providing acceptable (to them) water, elements, temperature and space. Maybe removal of a few dead branches, or a redundant top or two, but for the most part pruning conifers is a no-no! Plant them with enough space to let the limbs touch the ground, add water…
Most “street trees” are a graft of some sort or another. Above ground grafting almost NEVER takes place in nature! Root grafting happens all the time, however. Grafting gives trees a half-life as well, so plant them with this in mind.
Structural pruning should take place, if it is needed, when the tree is relatively young.
A mistake at planting time, such as: planting too deep, planting root bound specimens, planting too close to whatever, is the most common problem I see hither and yon…
Native trees grown from seed, from a reputable grower, planted correctly, mulched and irrigated, will turn out to be money in the bank!
When you want to plant a tree that doesn’t exist in nature, in a hostile setting (too hot, dry, cold, wet, funky soil, insufficient space to grow etc.) you have just made my truck payment, thanks!
Before you consider planting this or that, take a look around and find out if the tree de jour will do well in conditions that match your planting site. If not, consult a reputable arborist to try to talk you out of it! It will save you a bundle in the end.
If you just have to have that special “on the fence” tree, you will have to trick the tree into thinking it is happy, and while nothing is impossible, it may require some fancy footwork on your part to keep things strumming along.
The forests that surround our neck of the woods (pun intended) are our best teacher, and should be required reading before a trip to the nursery ever takes place!
The variety of non-native trees that do well here is staggering if given proper cultural conditions. Native trees, of good stock, planted correctly, will give you a lifetime of enjoyment.
Your needs from the tree you choose may be outside that trees particular ability and some homework on your part can usually come up with an alternative choice that down the road, will be money in the bank…