Well, I get this question all the time……. First of all, do not go to the nursery and buy a tree without researching your options with the following criteria:
1.) What is the job of the tree? Providing a screen?, providing shade?, adding height? or a ceiling in your garden?, providing color?
2.) What size ultimately do you want the tree to be? 25 feet, 50 feet, 100 feet 15 feet?
3.) What shape works in the location you want to plant it? Round, vertical, multi trunk, single trunk, open, lacey, dense
4.) What kind of foliage do want? Large broad leaves,? Narrow lacey leaves? Needle like leaves?
5.) Fruiting or non Fruiting?
6.) Deciduous or non Deciduous?
7.) What color do you want the foliage to be? If the answer is Green, what shade of green? Grey/ blue? Burgandy or Plum?
8.) Flowering or non Flowering?
9.) How long can I wait for it to do the job I want it to do? This will dictate whether you want a fast growing tree or if you can wait for a slow growing tree. This will also dictate what size of tree you want to purchase typically: 15 gallon, 24 box or 36 or 48 box and the up to ball and burlap or trees that need to be dug up and installed from the growing grounds to your home.
10.) What kind of soil do I have and how much water does the tree need I want to install?
Having answered all these questions you are now able to move forward with creating a list of possible trees that meet your established criteria.
Make certain the trees on your list are “non-invasive.” What do I mean by that? Invasive trees have naughty growth habits. They can lift sidewalks or driveways and more importantly can get into your sewer system or lift your foundation.
Some trees do not like to have their surface roots touched much. A good example of that would be an Oak Tree. You can get away with planting underneath them, but you have to be really aware of what those handful of compatible plants are. The rule of thumb for an Oak tree is to leave the area under the canopy free from any other planting material.
If you do choose a fruit tree, make certain you aren’t positioning where the fruit that drops will stain your patio or drop all over your driveway. Particularly problematic trees are fruiting Olives, Plums and cherries. There is also a well utilized tree called “Strawberry Tree” or Arbutus Unedo, it’s messy, but if you like that look, elect to go for it’s cousin, Arbutus Marina, no fruit and better red/manzanita type bark………
Get into your garden!