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Tree Selection Guide
Selecting the Right Trees for Your Project
This step in the iTrees.com process is where you get to choose between stately shade trees and colorful ornamentals; where you can become the artist and your yard becomes a blank canvas. You can choose to add a little color here or maybe a little extra shade over there, custom tailoring your environment to suit your families' needs.
Some people tend to stress over tree selection thinking, "What if I choose the wrong tree? I am not an expert." Luckily, iTrees.com has you covered there. Every single tree variety we offer was specifically chosen because they are particularly well suited for Chicago landscaping use, and grow healthily in our climate. Furthermore, every single tree we sell is a locally grown tree of the absolute highest quality, hand-picked as superb specimens by the growers themselves. We partner with growers that use sound conservation practices in their growing operations, and all our trees are guaranteed to not only meet, but exceed, the American Nursery and Landscape Association nursery stock standards. Starting with a healthy, well-branched, locally grown tree will ensure your tree's success.
The most important thing to remember when deciding which trees are right for your yard is simple: common sense! Just walk around your yard and imagine where trees would look good. Try and identify what your goals are for you landscape, and if there are any specific reasons why you could need certain trees. As you look around your yard, there are three basic tree features which you must consider:
This is one of the main reasons people add trees to their landscape. Shade trees provide energy savings, property value boosts, psychological benefits, and they help to turn your house into a home. When choosing the right tree for your yard, make sure to consider if you need shade and where.
BeautySpring Color Trees Fall Color Trees
Most trees provide color to the landscape in one way or another. Whether it is spring flowers or fall foliage, make sure to consider where you may need an extra boost of color, and what time of the year the tree will color up.
Along with shade this seems to be one of the most important reasons why people want to add trees to their home landscape. When people think of privacy trees, they often think of large evergreen trees; however, all trees add privacy and it doesn't take a solid block to achieve the boundary effects you are probably looking for. Perhaps the best word to think of when trying to achieve a privacy barrier is screening. You just need something between homes, whether it is solid or not, because your eyes will not look past that object and focus on your neighbors in the next yard. Also many people worry about deciduous trees losing their leaves in the winter. What those people do not consider is the fact that they are rarely in their yards in winter, and the times of the year that they need privacy most is also the time of the year when the trees have leaves. It is also important to note the height of any privacy fences to help determine if you will need screening under the 6 to 8 foot mark.
If you do have a fence, then really any tree will do the trick. Oftentimes people will choose shade trees, Ornamental Pear, or River Birch because they are larger to start and grow faster than other alternatives.
If you do not have a fence, you may want to consider using lower branched ornamental trees, clump trees, or evergreen trees. Shade trees will still provide screening however they are typically branched at around 5.5 to 7 ft off the ground, so you will be able to see under them. Ornamental trees, such as Hawthorn or Crabapple, are lower branched and provide a mass of foliage at eye level. Also clump trees, such as River Birch and Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry, provide foliage from the ground up. These are really the best choices for screening. Finally, evergreens provide a year round block from the ground up making them an excellent privacy tree. Just remember that many evergreen trees get extremely large at maturity, so make sure your lot can handle them.Privacy Trees
After deciding what type of tree is right for your yard, it is important to choose a tree that will be the right size. It is absolutely imperative that you consider the mature height and spread of each tree, and make sure to identify any trouble areas in the landscape. For example, if the back end of your lot has power lines along the edge you must be careful to plant trees that will not grow larger than approximately 20ft tall. Also, if you are looking for a tree for the front landscape you want to be sure to choose a tree that will not spread too much and cause future problems. Maturity can often be much faster than you expect, so correct tree size and placement is necessary to obtain the benefit of your investment.
Selecting the Right Area for Your Tree
After you've identified the features you are looking for in a tree, here are our suggestions for what trees work best in certain areas of the yard.
Patio/Deck:Patio Tree Picks
This area of your yard is very important. It is where you spend time relaxing and enjoying your yard with friends and family. Smart tree placement and choices can greatly add to your experience while in this space. First, think about the sun. What direction is the sun when you are most in this space? Add a tree in that area to provide you with shade. Next, think about neighbors. Which side of your patio or deck could you use the most privacy? Add a clump tree in that area. You do not need to surround your deck/patio with vegetation, but a few key trees in the right spot will make a world of difference. Place the privacy tree about 4-6' off the deck/patio. By adding a focal point close to the deck/patio, you keep attention close rather than looking past into your neighboring yards. If you haven't built your patio or deck yet, you can still plan ahead and get some trees growing in the spots you know you will need them. Our Patio Tree Picks
Property Lines:Property Line Picks
Trees in these areas can add privacy, interest, and beauty to your back yard. Resist the temptation to put too many trees along the property lines—their growth may cause overcrowding. You also don't have to line the entire property to get a boundary effect. Simply add a few groupings of trees in 2 or 3 key areas, and you can achieve the effect you want. Trees can be all mulched together in one large planting bed, or separately within the grass. Another good idea is to mix the varieties. Maybe plant a group of 2 evergreens and 2 birch, or 1 crab, 1 birch, and 1 evergreen. You could even make a grouping of 2 evergreen and 1 shade tree. The possibilities are endless!
Back Yard Open Space:Open Space Picks
The open space in your back yard is priceless. This is where the kids play or you might have a vegetable garden. It also provides open green space to set off your other planting areas. How many shade trees you add here depends on the size of your yard. Use your best judgment and place trees where you need accent or shade. Add a shade tree near your children's play area for fun and shade. Do not put a tree where it will shade your vegetable garden. Adding short ornamental trees might block your view to other areas of the yard.
The parkway should have shade trees only. It is not recommended to use evergreens, clump form trees, or short ornamental trees in the parkway. These trees do not allow for a good line of sight to the front of the house, or for cars backing out of the drive. Parkway trees should be trees that reach at least 30' in height or greater. Place trees in the middle of the parkway, at least 15-20' apart from each other. Usually homes have 2 or more parkway trees.
Front Open Space:Front Open Space Picks
The front yard open space is a good area to showcase trees. Most average yards in a subdivision have room for 2-3 trees in these areas. Some yards have room on the opposite side of the yard from the front door too. The trees in these areas should coordinate with the parkway and front landscape trees. Design principles generally suggest placing trees about the open space randomly. Again, leave ample room between trees for their canopy to spread as they grow.
Front Landscape:Front Landscape Picks
The front landscape area is the area around the house where the bushes and flowers will be. This area should include a few trees, usually of the small ornamental size. Many times a tree is placed off the corner of the house to "anchor" the planting bed. This tree should be at least 12-15' out from the house. Many times designers will add another smaller tree along the sidewalk or by the garage corner to add another level to the design.
The side yards are located on both sides of your house. Your landscaping needs here change dramatically based on the size of your house lot. Small house lots may only be able to fit a few ornamental trees, while large house lots leave a lot of room for windbreaks, and property line plantings.
The side yards are usually narrower than other parts of the yard. These areas, depending on your lot size, should be designed carefully. Many times placing a shade tree in these areas will benefit your home by shading and cooling it. If the space is narrow, think about the upright ornamental pear. It only gets about 15-20' wide with a max height of around 35', so it would be a good choice for a narrow side yard.
Large lots provide an opportunity to really set your house apart. Orchards, windbreaks, and other large trees planted in rows can really frame your house and property.Side Yard Picks