What kind of tree should I plant on my property? – Victoria News

ISA Certified Arborist Chris McVey from Osprey Tree Service in Victoria’s West Shore is back with answers to more of your tree maintenance questions.

What tree species should I plant on my property this spring?

Selecting the right tree for your site can provide immeasurable benefits in the long run. A deciduous tree can shade a cool home in the summer and provide sun during colder winter months. A coniferous (evergreen) can act as a privacy screen or windbreak. Some trees produce delicious fruit every fall. There are many choices to consider.

The first step is to identify any infrastructure on your property (or your neighbor’s) that may be damaged by a tree. Depending on how severe the tree roots damage is, home foundations, basement drainage, and septic fields can cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. Small trees planted right next to fences can push them over, if the tree grows too wide.

Next, study the property’s site conditions before you fall in love with a specific tree species. Long term tree health depends on soil conditions or type, sun exposure, space and height constraints, tree hardness and drainage. An arborist can do a site assessment to help determine these factors.

It’s also important to consider the tree’s size at maturity. If the tree will grow too large, maintenance costs can add up year after year. If too small, the benefits of planting the tree may not be seen soon enough.

I’ve determined the appropriate tree species! Now how do I know which tree to pick at the nursery?

When picking a tree, it’s important to get the healthiest tree possible, to avoid costly future maintenance. This is the fun part!

A good quality tree has a straight trunk free of scars, wounds, or visible damage. It should have well spaced branches with lively leaves or needles with uniform colour. If there are no leaves, look for healthy buds that haven’t dried out. Finally, check that the roots are not circling or crossing at the root flare (where the topmost root emerges from the trunk). Roots should come straight out from the flare.

A poor quality tree may have multiple stems originating from the same spot or close to the lower part of the stem, which could destine it to be more of a shrub shape. These forks can also form rot and be prone to breaking when the tree is more mature. You may also see wilting or discolored leaves, broken branches, and scars or marks on the stem. Crushed or circling roots in the root ball are a red flag as well, as they can mean that the tree will have trouble finding ground water.

It is always best to select the healthiest tree possible, not just the largest tree. A smaller healthy tree will outgrow a larger unhealthy one eventually, as it will be more vigorous and require less maintenance in the long run.

Osprey Tree Service is based on the West Shore of Victoria, BC and serves southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Their qualified team of certified arborists, forestry professionals and wildland firefighters offer residential and commercial tree removal, maintenance and assessments. Learn more at ospreytreeservice.ca. For a free quote, call 250-474-7993 or email [email protected].

READ MORE: Ask an arborist: Should I cut dead branches off my arbutus tree?

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