How to choose and plant the right tree

A tree is an investment. It will become a feature in your garden, develop a root system and eventually shade part of the garden. However, the wrong tree in the wrong spot can push up paving, out-compete other plants or throw shade where you don’t want it.

While the extent of root systems varies, a general guide is to plant a tree about 1.5 times the expected width of the mature canopy away from major structures. The plant label will tell you how wide the tree is likely to grow.

Here are some other key points to consider when selecting a tree for your garden.

CHOOSE a tree that is well suited to your climate. You want it to thrive, not just survive

MATCH the size of your tree to the space – don’t plant big trees in small gardens!

DECIDE whether you want your tree to provide year-round shade, autumn colour, spring blossom, summer colour, fruit or attractive bark, or allow sun to penetrate in winter

CONSIDER how quickly you want the tree to establish, as some are quick growers and some are slow

AVOID placing trees with invasive root systems (evergreen fig, poplar and liquidambar) near buildings and pipes

CHECK if it drops any litter, and decide if this is an issue

LOCATE underground pipes (call Dial Before You Dig on 1100 toll-free) and position your tree beyond the suggested minimum distance from any pipes

LOOK overhead to make sure there are no power lines that your tree could grow into

SELECT a quality tree from a trusted source, avoiding sick and rootbound stock

IMPROVE soil, and plant according to the label directions, staking the tree if needed

CARE for your tree well in the early stages with regular watering, fertilising and formative pruning

Find out the trees our TV presenters can’t get enough of and read about a fledgling street planting project that’s planning on painting the town red with flame trees, in the July issue, out now.