Guide on How to Choose a Tree to Plant

Choosing the right tree for successful planting can be a challenging task. There are several important things to consider if you want to see lush, healthy growth in your tree. Here, we will go over how Calgary, Alberta residents can choose the best tree to plant in their yard. 

Factors to Consider when Selecting a Tree

What Is the Tree’s Purpose?

Adding a tree to your landscape setup does much more than just giving you a shady spot to sit in the summer. It can raise property values, attract beneficial wildlife, and help to filter pollutants around your property. The type of tree that you choose will largely depend on its intended purpose.

Many people add trees as a permanent fixture in their landscaping, planting saplings straight into the soil. However, If you have a small garden or an apartment setup, you may prefer to keep plants in pots or planters to save space. Planters also allow you to grow a wider variety of trees, including tropical species. In addition, you can move plants to a warm indoor spot during the winter to protect them from the frost.

While many trees grow perfectly fine in planters, it’s important to note that they may not reach their full mature size due to space constraints. Keeping the soil moist enough can also be more of a challenge, as water evaporates quickly from potted containers. As a result, a spot in the ground is often better for sprawling, lush growth.

If you use a planter, make sure to choose a tree that can survive under planter conditions. Small to medium-sized trees work best, though some larger varieties can be kept in dwarf form. It’s also best to choose a drought-tolerant species unless you plan on maintaining a rigorous watering schedule, as planter soil can dry out quickly. 

Size of the Tree 

When picking out a young tree, it’s important to keep long-term growth in mind. You need to plant saplings according to how tall and wide the tree will reach maturity. Otherwise, you may end up overcrowding your garden and starving your tree of vital nutrients. 

You should ensure that young trees are far enough away from your house that the mature roots won’t threaten your foundation. Trees that will grow to reach a medium size should be at least 15 feet away from your house and 35 feet apart from other trees, while larger varieties need even more space.

You should also avoid planting trees too close to sidewalks, powerlines, or other obstacles. Even if the sapling fits now, you may have an issue with roots cracking sidewalk pavement or branches catching on overhead wires in a few decades. 

If you have limited space, it’s best to stick to tree varieties that remain relatively compact at maturity. Trees such as the Ohio Buckeye or the Manitoba Maple grow well in most areas of Calgary, and they’re small enough to fit on small lots safely. You can plant small trees as close as six feet to your house as saplings.

If you want a space-saving tree, you may want to opt for a columnar tree. Though tall, these trees have a narrow build that takes up less space and casts less shade over small properties. The Swedish Columnar Aspen grows particularly well in Calgary. 

What Type of Tree Will Thrive in Your Climate?

The type of tree that you plant in your yard will depend largely on the local climate. It’s important for Calgary residents to choose a hardy variety that can withstand our cold, harsh winters. Tropical varieties such as citrus or palm trees will die after the first frost hits in the fall months. 

It’s best to stick to hardy, frost-resistant trees that can withstand the sometimes harsh Calgary winters. Many coniferous trees grow well in the area, including attractive varieties such as the Siberian Larch, the Colorado Spruce, the Norwegian Spruce, and the White Spruce. Some frost-resistant fruiting varieties can also thrive in Calgary-area gardens. 

How Much Maintenance Does the Tree Need?

Some plants require more time and dedication than others, so it’s important to assess maintenance needs before choosing a tree to plant. If you lead a busy lifestyle, you’ll likely want to plant a tree that’s easy to care for and requires a minimal time investment. 

The best low-maintenance trees are native species that require little to no external help to thrive. They need little water to supplement the rain, and their roots can handle the heavy, clay-based soil of most Calgary homes. Low-maintenance trees also tend to require little pruning, especially once mature. 

Those willing to put a little bit more time into their garden have a wider variety of trees to choose from for their garden. Most require at least some additional water and nutrients in the form of fertilizer, especially as a young sapling. Many trees also require pruning every few years to keep from growing too large or too bushy. 

What Is Your Soil Like?

Trees gain all of the nutrients they need through the ground, making soil quality a crucial consideration for planting. The best type of soil is typically nutrient-rich and offers plenty of drainage. Otherwise, soggy soil may encourage the onset of root rot and other potentially fatal plant diseases.

Most soil in Calgary tends to be alkaline, with a pH of around 7.5 to 8.0. It’s also clay-based and compact, giving it fairly poor drainage. Moisture-sensitive trees don’t do well in local soil, as it becomes too damp in the spring and fall. 

If you’re not sure about the soil quality on your property, you can find affordable testing kits online or at your local nursery. Dedicated kits can quickly tell you the composition and pH of your soil, letting you know if you need to make any changes for healthy plant growth. 

You may be able to improve your planting site to better support trees that need aerated or nutrient-rich soil. Tilling or loosening the soil and adding media such as perlite or small rocks can improve drainage. 

Treating the ground with fertilizer, compost, or other organic matter can improve nutrient composition, but waiting before planting is important. Fresh compost can trap excess phosphorus in the soil, burning roots and stunting plant growth. It’s best to wait at least one month before planting your tree to avoid any accidental damage. 

Tree Suggestions 

It’s important to consider what you want in a tree before choosing one to add to your landscaping. With the right type of tree, you can transform your yard into a lush, shady paradise. There are plenty of species that thrive in the sometimes harsh Calgary climate. Some of the most popular shade trees include:

  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Poplar
  • Willow
  • Elm
  • Birch
  • Green Ash
  • Trembling Aspen 

Fruiting trees tend to grow better in warm climates, so there aren’t many varieties to choose from for edible garden owners. However, there are a couple of frost-resistant options for Calgary homeowners, including:

  • The Ussurian Pear 
  • The Princess Kay Plum 
  • Hawthorn
  • Schubert Chokecherry
  • Japanese Tree Lilac
  • Crabapple
  • Mayday
  • American Mountain Ash

Coniferous and evergreen trees tend to do well in the cold of Calgary, and they don’t lose their color in the wintertime. Popular evergreens include:

  • Colorado Spruce
  • Norway Spruce
  • Siberian Larch
  • Swedish Columnar Aspen
  • White Spruce

Need A Free Estimate?

At Tree Removal Calgary Inc., all of our arborists are experts in their field and have the necessary equipment to handle any tree removal situation. We pride ourselves in being familiar with every detail of the process, including using the gear to rig, as well as manipulating and pulling the tree down safely.