Put The Right Tree In the Right Place

By the Missouri Department of Conservation

Fall is a great time to plant a tree. There’s less chance of drought or sun scorch harming newly-planted trees, and the cooler temperatures encourage new root growth. As long as the hottest days of summer are gone and the ground isn’t frozen, you can still plant trees.

Before you dig, consider exactly what kind of tree you want for the space. There’s no one perfect tree for all situations. Some, such as dogwoods, stay small their whole lives; others, such as burr oaks, become large and stately. It’s important that you pick a tree that is right for the place you intend to plant it.

Consider the tree’s purpose
First, decide how you would like the tree to function. Are you planting this tree as a screen from the neighbors, an accent by your front door, for shade or for greening your surroundings? Are you interested in aesthetics such as fall color and spring flowers? Do you want to provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife?

Look up, down and all around
Next, critique your site. Are there sidewalks, gardens or other trees to be avoided? How much space is there for a tree to grow? Don’t forget to look up! A common mistake is to plant a small sapling that will mature into a large, shade tree directly under a power line. This is a no-win situation for you, the tree and the utility company. Large shade trees should be planted at least 45 feet from overhead utility wires. If your site is close to utility lines, consider planting trees that stay small or plant shrubs.

Plant large trees for big benefits
Maximize benefits from trees. If there is adequate room, consider planting a large shade tree. The benefits from shade trees greatly outweigh those from small, ornamental trees. This is true for your yard, neighborhood and community, and for the planet as well. Plant large trees on the east and west sides of your home to maximize energy savings.

Large trees remove 60 to 70 times more pollution than small trees. Neighborhoods with large, mature trees can be up to 11 degrees cooler in the summer than those without shade. One big tree in a community provides the cooling equivalent of five air conditioners running 20 hours per day, and can cut cooling and heating costs by 10 percent. Big trees also increase property values.

Learn more with these free publications:
• Missouri Urban Trees;
• Conservation Shrubs and Trees;
• Fifty Common Trees of Missouri;
These publications are available by e-mailing pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov or by writing to MDC Publications, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180