Read this to Potentially Save Yourself Thousands of Pounds

Tree selection and placement are two of the most important decisions you can make when landscaping or choosing a new tree for your piece of land.
You must remember that in many cases, the life of the tree is likely to exceed your own life; this in itself makes the decision even more important for future generations. Ensure you dont impulse buy, there are various factors you need to consider before proceeding, these are all covered below.
Firstly you need to ask yourself the following questions:
  • Why is the tree being planted? What purpose is it going to serve?

  • Size. An important issue! All trees start of small; ensure you look up, down and around. Check for overhead utility lines and power cables. Below ground is just as important, the root system of a tree often catches people out, it is vital for a tree to have a stable platform to operate from and if there is drainage or underground cables then this could become a huge and potentially dangerous problem.

  • Soil conditions. What is the soil like in your area? Obviously this varies from place to place so itís important to know if the soil will be of sufficient quality to support your tree.

  • Who will provide the necessary maintenance for the tree?  Meaning watering, pruning, fertilize, three very important factors.

To help you form some answers to the above questions, I have covered various topics that should be considered.

The Function of the Tree

The fundamental reason for planting the tree is often fairly obvious, what is the main factor why you want it there in the first place?
Trees in general make outside space much more desirable and can increase the value of property. A sentence on each type is below:
  • Deciduous trees provide shade from the sun in the summer but shed their leaves in the winter to allow the sun to shine through.

  • Evergreens are great at providing windbreaks or for privacy, along with a home for nesting birds. However they will require trimming frequently to keep them in top condition and to not become a nuisance.

  • Trees or shrubs that produce edible fruit can be utilized by the owner or can attract wildlife to a garden.

  • Street trees have many advantages such as decreasing glare, filtering pollutants, giving oxygen and making the area look pleasant. Remember the rooting systems can break up concrete over time.


Form & Size

How do you wish the tree or shrub to form? Again, this comes down to the main reason for having the tree in the first place. There are thousands of different shapes you can think about. Does the tree need to be squeezed between two houses or does it need to be a low spread tree to avoid overhead utility lines. This decision is fairly vital as it can significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase the trees value within the landscape.

Site Conditions

As mentioned earlier, the actual place you wish to put the tree is vital. Once a tree is established it can become extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to move. A lot of these conditions will be outside your control but you must bear them in mind when selecting a suitable site.

Soil Conditions

Many people often underestimate the earth a tree is anchored in; they canít see it so therefore it doesnít matter. This is not the right attitude to have. In urban environments the soil is often disturbed, shallow or compacted, the tree suffers in these conditions. How many times on the news do you see flooding which is then traced back to the removal of trees and shrubs in a high-risk area?
A tree surgeon will be able to take a sample of your soil to check the pH levels and advise on which trees are suited for your property and soil type. Alternatively you can buy soil-testing kits from any reputable garden centre and test the soil yourself.


This means exposure to elements such as sun and wind. Trees are shaped like so because they want to get closer to the sun. Take yourself back to school and the lessons on rainforest canopies. Underneath the canopy it becomes a dark and murky place due to all the trees fighting for a fair share of the sun so very little light gets through. Few species of tree or shrub will thrive in dense shade.
The wind is a consideration because not only can it damage a trees crown when it blows hard but it can dry out the soil around the base. Staking smaller trees and saplings can counter this along with watering young trees until theyíre established.


Water needs to be able to escape away from the site of the tree. Tree roots need oxygen from the water and ideally there needs to be a fairly consistent supply of it. There was a case in March 2015 when a shopping center was built around a protected oak tree in Milton Keynes. It looked very pretty but the builders failed to think about drainage for the tree that often stood in two foot of water. Inevitably, after a few months the tree died and had to be removed (you can read about this on the BBC News website by clicking here). There is often something that can be done to improve drainage so speak to a professional if you think this might be a problem for you.

Space Constraints

I have mentioned this a couple of times now but it is vitally important you get it right and donít underestimate the trees ability to become greedy and want to expand. The list is endless, but some of the most common things to watch for are overhead and underground utilities, pavements, drains, buildings and other trees.

Human Activity

We humans are the number one creature on the planet and top of the food chain so it would be sensible to think about our relationship with the tree.  For example, if you plant the wrong type of tree and it is located near a busy park where children play, this could be very dangerous. We as humans are sometimes our own enemy so the things to be aware of are; soil compaction, under-watering, over-watering, vandalism, over-pruning and planting the wrong species of tree.

Insect & Disease Susceptibility

Every region and species of tree has at least one disease that can be fatal; this is a topic in itself. Just be aware of what diseases may be carried around at a particular time or within an area.


So there you have it, a few things to think about before you go ahead and purchase that tree, sapling or shrub. I hope you got something from this article. I have a good relationship with many nurseries and you can go to our Useful Links page should you wish to find a good local place to buy a tree or sapling.
Thanks for reading.
Sam Clark
Tree Surgeon
SPC Tree Services

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