Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Nice trees improve curb appeal, can increase property values and cut cooling costs.   The best time to plant trees and shrubs is during their dormant season–early spring or late fall.  However, balled and burlapped trees can be planted almost any time with special care.  Big shade trees are appropriate for your yard, but the narrow planting space between the street and sidewalks for “street trees” requires special consideration of mature size, rooting habit, etc.

The Appendix to our Builders Guide lists trees, shrubs, grasses and ground cover appropriate for our yards and some that are not permitted. Photos and specifics about lots of trees can be found at www.arborday.org.  A great source of information can be found at www.treesaregood.com.  Under “Tree Owner Information” you will find a “Tree Selection and Placement” pamphlet and the “Planting a Tree” pamphlet which gives step by step directions and sketches.

Be aware that if you plant a maple or other smooth thin-barked tree where it will have southwest sun exposure, you will need to wrap the trunk for the first few years with light colored tree wrap in the fall and remove the wrap in the spring to prevent frost crack (bark splitting) caused by bright daytime sun followed by freezing temperatures at night.  If you want bright red fall color but not the extra care for young maples, you might choose black gum or red oak, both hardy native trees.

The Builders Guide required builders to initially plant 3” caliper street trees in the Estates section and 2” caliper elsewhere. Smaller replacement trees are now acceptable.  You are encouraged, but not required, to plant the street tree species listed by street in the Addendum. Although maples are listed, they are not really appropriate for street trees, per the State Forestry Commission’s Patti Erwin because of the limited space for roots to support large trees.  She recommended Chinese pistache, willow oak, and lacebark elm.  Janet Carson, horticulture specialist for the U of A Cooperative Extension Services, recommends Chinese pistache; ginkgoe (male only), linden (little leaf), or Japanese Zelkova for street trees.

Before you dig, call 811 to learn what’s below ground.  Trees are an investment with long-time returns if properly planted and cared for.

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