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Plan Your Tree Layout

Choose the Right Placement for Your Trees

Before you decide where your trees should go, you should first identify areas of the yard where you need to accomplish a certain goal. First, figure out the direction from which problem sunlight or wind is coming from. Also, identify areas that you need to screen or block all together. You can even identify areas of the yard where you need more color or softened views. Decide on areas where you would like there to be a particular feature, such as a view out of the bedroom window, a view from the patio, or a view from the house. By identifying all these areas you can solve each problem one at a time and end up with each tree in the perfect spot. When you have finished this step, you should make sure that all your landscaping needs have been met. Remember that a tree in one area may meet several of your needs.

Placing trees in your yard may seem complicated, but the basics are pretty simple:

  • Large shade trees
    Large shade trees are usually placed in open areas of the yard and parkways. They should not be close to buildings or power lines, and you should consider where you want shade or wind relief on your property. Try to stay 15-20 ft away from buildings if possible.
  • Evergreens and clump trees
    Evergreens and clump trees are usually placed along the property lines and in windbreaks. These trees get tall and fill out thickly from the top to the bottom of the tree. Most clump trees, like River Birch and Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry, can also be used as ornamental trees. Oftentimes they will be placed around a patio or in the front or back landscape. Do not put evergreen trees up close to the house as they tend to grow very large.
  • Ornamental trees, such as Pear, Crabapples, and Hawthorns
    Ornamental trees, such as Pear, Crabapples, and Hawthorns, can be used anywhere in your yard you want beauty and color. Most often these trees are used close to the home to frame the house or anchor flower beds. Oftentimes, they are used along property lines for screening. Typically you do not want to put them in the middle of the back or front yard, because they will block the view of the rest of the yard.

Another thing to consider when placing trees is the sun and wind. Blocking the prevailing winds from your house can significantly reduce wear and tear and heating bills for your home. Also, successfully using shade trees to block your house from the hot sun in the summer can lower air conditioning bills by as much as 25%. Large shade trees placed on the southeast and southwest sides of your house will achieve this goal.

When deciding where trees should go, always consider the mature size of the tree and plan accordingly. Overcrowding trees may have short term benefits, but it is not good for the long term health of your trees. If you follow the basic tree guidelines, you should have no problems.

Quick Tree Placement Guidelines

Here are a few guidelines to remember when placing trees around your property:

  • As a general rule divide the mature spread of the tree in half and try and keep it that far away from structures or adjacent trees of a similar size.
  • Be sure to place trees at least 12-20' from your house depending on the size of the tree.
  • Place trees at least 3-4' away from sidewalks, patios, etc.
  • Place trees about 10-30' apart from each other (depending on the size of the trees).
  • Do not put trees in easements.
  • Do not plant trees in straight lines unless they are in the parkway or part of a windbreak. Natural spacing is preferable.
  • Mulch is much better than rocks around trees.
  • Think about views from inside your house out to the yard, and place trees accordingly.
  • Do not place trees under utility lines that will grow taller than the height of the line.
  • Use a diverse assortment of trees in your yard.
  • Keep in mind how fast the tree will grow and plan accordingly.

Updated on 28 Nov 2023