The Ultimate Guide to Planting Trees for Landscaping

Trees are essential elements when it comes to landscaping. Learn where to plant them for maximum benefits such as providing framing & background, improving appearance & providing privacy.

The Ultimate Guide to Planting Trees for Landscaping

When it comes to landscaping, trees are an essential element. Not only do they provide framing and background, but they also improve the appearance of our homes, absorb noise, refresh the atmosphere, serve as a windbreak, provide privacy, protect, shade, shelter, and divide the grounds into several areas of use. But where should you plant trees?

The most important factor to consider when planting trees is distance. Depending on the mature size of the tree, the distance that is set from the house will control the amount of shade given in a given area. A 50-foot tall tree with an extension of 30 feet will cast a shadow equal to the height of the tree from 3 to 4 pm. But in winter, the shade at the same time of day will be 120 feet long. To get the most useful shade from the house at a practical distance, place the tree at a distance of 15 to 20 feet from the house. Small trees can be planted less than 15 feet, but large trees should be planted 20 feet or more away from home.

The location if the house faces south or southeast, the maximum shade at the front will come from a tree that is placed southwest or front left. If the house faces southwest, a tree should be placed for maximum shade in the center and south of the house. Do not plant large evergreens directly south of a building, as this greatly reduces solar gain in winter.

When it comes to front location, select trees that have tall branches so that outdoor areas can be seen under the branches. This will also allow good air movement. The main shade trees should be deciduous so that the maximum amount of sunlight can reach the house in winter.

Medium and small trees tend to be more in scale with modern low houses and are therefore more in demand. Medium-sized trees can be planted within 15 feet of the house and usually 35 feet or more apart. Small trees, such as dogwood in bloom, can be planted within 6 feet of the house and about 20 feet apart.

If large trees cannot be used, several small trees can be grouped together to provide the necessary shade. Shadow movement determines from sketches and observations of where the tree should be for maximum shade in summer. Then check the movement of the shadow of this point. Use a long bet or a table and fix it at the selected point.

Watch the shadows to determine if your plans are correct. If time allows, observe the shadow pattern over several seasons. Remember that the shade of the house follows the same pattern as the shade of the trees, and areas such as patios can receive a part of their shade from the house and do not always need shade from the trees.

The angle of the sun during all seasons influences the shade patterns for positioning trees. Trees planted for shade must also fulfill other functions such as framing or background. When a house is properly framed, it seems longer and more settled on its site.

If possible, at least two trees should be used for background purposes. If back of your house faces west or southwest, these trees can be important for shade and may need to be placed close to your home. Elsewhere, these trees may be needed to block unwanted views and may need to be placed close to your property boundary.

When selecting trees for your landscape design, consider round-headed trees with curved or rounded crowns which often have closed branches and provide a dense shade; oval trees with an overall egg-shaped look; shady trees (in shape of umbrellas) with rounded tops; pyramidal trees with a narrow base and wide top; columnar trees with an upright shape; weeping trees with drooping branches; vase-shaped trees with wide base and narrow top; and spreading trees with wide crowns.

Remove all sick, injured or deformed trees from your landscape design. If they stick out of your home they pose a safety threat and must be removed or pruned. If gardens are desired and there is too much shade, remove enough trees at your selected gardening site to let in enough light.

Many properties may not have enough trees for a naturalistic effect so consider adding more if possible. When selecting additional trees for your landscape design remember to eliminate deformed, sick or damaged ones first before selecting those that meet your needs such as shadow, framing or background.