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How to Choose the Right Type of Tree for Your Yard

Proper tree care begins with selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place. This can ensure that your tree will thrive!

Choosing the Right Type of Tree

Proper tree care begins with selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place. Make sure your tree will thrive — especially once fully grown — where you want to plant it. Things to consider include:

  • The tree’s purpose. Are you planting it for aesthetics, privacy, shade/energy reduction, windbreak, or as a street tree? Your end goal will determine the suitability of different trees.
  • Planting site limitations. What is your hardiness zone? What is the maximum height and spread for a tree in the space? What are the sun exposure and soil conditions? This information is available for more than 200 trees and woody shrubs in our Tree Guide.

Learn more about planting the Right Tree in the Right Place. You can also find a tree with the Tree Wizard — a free online tool to help you narrow down your choices and select the right tree for the right place.

Right Tree, Right Place

Short, flowering trees don’t clash with overhead utility lines. Large deciduous trees on the southeast, southwest, and west provide cooling shade in the summer but don’t obstruct the warming winter sunlight. An evergreen windbreak to the north blocks cold winds in winter.

Selecting a Healthy Tree

Good tree care starts with a healthy tree. Here’s what to look for to ensure your tree can provide a lifetime of benefits.

Bare-Root Seedlings

  • Roots should be moist and fibrous.
  • Deciduous seedlings should have roots about equal to stem length.

Balled and Bur-lapped Trees

  • Root ball should be firm to the touch, especially near the trunk.
  • Root ball should be adequate for the tree’s size.

Container-Grown Trees

  • Container should not contain large, circling roots.
  • Pruned roots should be cut cleanly, none wider than a finger.
  • Soil and roots should be joined tightly.


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