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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2020


Tree Planting – Selection and Placement


This is the first column of a series to explain my updated tree planting recommendations. These are not just ideas or techniques learned from books or other people in the business, but procedures and techniques learned from personal experience in the landscape design, installation and maintenance businesses the past 50 years.


I currently don't do the work, except on my own properties, but am spending more time than ever researching and reviewing work done through the years by me and many others in the business to see what worked the best and not so well.


The first step is the proper selection of trees. Concentrating on the north Texas area, it's important to point out that certain trees have been quite severely over used. Not that you should totally avoid these trees but realize that live oaks, red oaks, cedar elms and crape myrtles (all quality trees) have been over-planted. Just make them a little smaller percentage of what you chose to plant.


Bigtooth maple is the best maple choice for North Texas


Texas ash planted away from other trees to allow it to develop as its soft graceful shape


An interesting palette of trees I would suggest you serious consider includes Mexican white oak, Lacey oak, big tooth maple, Montezuma bald cypress, dawn redwood, Mexican sycamore, Texas ash, Persian ironwood, loquat leaf oak, desert willow, ginkgo, trident maple, Mexican plum and Walter’s viburnum. There are some others but this is a good starting list. These trees can tolerate a wide range of soils but all prefer healthy organic soil.


Placement of your new trees is important, especially for long term. The first consideration is space. Trees, especially the larger growing ones, need room to fill out and show off their natural and graceful forms. It's also good to avoid planting the large growing trees too close to buildings, septic system fields, and other structures. Secondly, trees can be useful to provide shade at certain times of the day (deciduous ones on the south and west, evergreen ones on the north, etc.) and to screen off unwanted views of neighbor buildings, utility poles and busy streets.


Trident maples intentionally planted close together to form a forest-like effect 


Trees should also be spaced far enough apart to not crowd each other, unless dense forest-like effects are desired. I have designed gardens where the trees have been intentionally planted close together with the plan of removing certain trees later.


Ornamental understory trees can be planted after the large trees have grown and are providing enough shade, or if they are selections that can take sun and shade, they can be planted in the beginning. My book Texas Trees can help with the sun/shade considerations.


Maple Japanese orangeola - a beautiful and tough choice for landscaping and containers


Next week we'll discuss digging and preparing planting holes that the trees will like best. Condensed version of the rest of the planting techniques I recommend is – dig a wide, rough-sided hole and set the tree high with flares exposed. Avoid thinning the top growth, wrapping the trunk, staking, and building watering rings. The natural organic techniques work best.





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