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Choosing A Large Deciduous Tree

By Mary Aukema, master gardener, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver County

A large tree planted in your yard can provide beauty, shade in the summer, and protection from harsh winters. Trees help to moderate temperature extremes and off-set poor air quality.

When choosing a large tree for your yard, where you will plant it is very important. Many potential problems can be eliminated at this stage of planning. The tree should have enough space to allow for additional growth without pruning it harshly. Check for overhead power and phone lines. Any obstruction that will affect the growth pattern of your tree should be avoided.

What other plants will be growing near your tree? Will there be a lawn, flowerbeds or shrubs? The water needs of a tree may differ greatly from those of turf and flowers.

Is your underground irrigation system going to allow for tree trunk and basal root growth?

  • Soil conditions. There are very few trees that do well in compacted soil. Loosen the soil in the area where the tree will be planted and add organic material to a depth of at least 12 inches before you plant the tree.
  • Purpose. What are you looking for when choosing this tree? Is it to provide shade, privacy, flowers, color in the fall, texture to the garden, or all of the above? Asking these questions first can help you in making your final selection.
  • Growth rate. The limbs of fast growing trees can be brittle and easily damaged by wind and heavy snows. It is best not to plant them near buildings, sidewalks, or utility lines.

For further information, and a substantial list of trees to choose from, refer to CSU fact sheet 7.419.

Photograph courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010