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How To Choose The Best Shade Tree For Your Space: Step 2: Analyze Your Space – Eliminate Choices!

Step 2: Analyze Your Space – Eliminate Choices!
Use Property Characters To Refine & Narrow Down Your Choices!

You’ve done some research using website descriptions
and observations of trees that grow in the area and you have a list.

 Let’s work an example:
Initial Tree List:

Chinese Pistache
Chinquapin Oak
Chisos Red Oak
Fruitless Mulberry
Shantung Maple
Texas Red Oak
Texas Redwood
Weeping Willow

Can’t Plant Them All - We Need To Narrow This List Down?

Let’s analyze our space starting with: How big is my planting area?
You need to measure it.

Let’s say your front yard faces East and you want shade on your windows to cool down the house in the mornings! Measure the distance from house to sidewalk or street.
You then measure 30 feet to street and 30’ wide to property lines.

What trees from your list will fit this space?

Mature tree canopy size tells you to eliminate
the Cottonwood, Mulberry, Weeping Willow, and Chinquapin Oak.

Wait a minute you’re thinking the Cottonwood will get 40’ – 50’ tall and wide.
That would be perfect to shade my 30’ lot and the branches would go over my house keeping it cool in the summer. Not a bad idea right?

Couple Problems Here:

Cottonwoods (also willows, ash trees, mulberries) have weak branches that can break in the wind and fall on the home or other structures potentially causing damage.

What about roots?
If the tree canopy is 40’ – 50’ wide then the root system is probably at least 40’ – 50’ in all directions. This means the roots will be under your home, nearby walls, the street, and even your neighbor’s home. Cottonwoods have aggressive surface roots and if planted too close can cause structural damage to walls, foundations, heave up streets and driveways. Cottonwoods are too big for a 30’ space.

Based on your property size and your initial list only five trees will fit your space:

Chinese Pistache
Chisos Red Oak
Shantung Maple
Texas Red Oak
Texas Redwood

You’ve Analyzed Your Space And Eliminated Some Choices!
We Still Have 5 Choices – We Only Have Space For A Single Tree?

You can re-analyze your space for other characters like:

Overhead Wires
Underground Utilities
Leach Field
Proximity To Garden Space (Don’t want shade)

We Still Need To Refine & Narrow Down Our 5 Tree Choices!

Check Back With Us For:
How To Choose The Best Shade Tree For Your Space: Step 3!

Photos & Narrative By:
Stephen Sain 
Staff Plant Physiologist

Trees That Please Nursery
Unique Amongst Retail and Wholesale Nurseries
Serving Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Lunas, and Belen


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