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Put Some Thought into Tree Placement

It’s really tempting to buy a tree and plant it in the middle of your lawn or directly in front of your picture window, but instead take some time to choose the best spot first. Several considerations such as maintenance and mature size should be taken into account before the site is selected.

Mowing close to the trunk of this Pindo palm has caused repeated injury to the trunk. Photo: JMcConnell, UF/IFAS

Placing a tree in a lawn area without creating a bed can lead to maintenance issues for both the tree and the turfgrass. It is easy to simply cut out a small patch of turf the size of the rootball and install a tree, however, as the grass grows up towards the trunk over time maintaining that grass will become difficult. It is common to see mechanical injuries to tree trunks because weed eaters or mowers have chipped away at the bark when trying to cut the grass. Other potential problems are irrigation zones calibrated for turf delivering the wrong amount of water to trees and herbicides used on grass that may cause injury to trees.

Over time, as the tree canopy grows, it will create shade and any grass trying to grow in that area will thin and be more susceptible to disease and insect pressure. By creating a large ornamental bed for your tree, you will prevent some pitfalls associated with placing the tree in the lawn.

Another common mistake is planting a tree too close to a house or other structure. It can be difficult to imagine how large a tree will grow at maturity because it is not a quick process. Trees placed close to houses may grow into eaves and shed leaves onto roofs and into gutters. This adds to maintenance and can provide mosquito breeding grounds. Also, some tree roots may interfere with walkways or septic systems and should be sited far enough away to avoid these issues.

These Japanese Maples are planted in a bed separate from the lawn making care for both plant types easier. Photo: JMcConnell, UF/IFAS

Be sure to research any tree you plan to install to find out ideal growing conditions and mature size. If you plan ahead and use good maintenance practices, a tree can become an valuable part of your home landscape to be enjoyed for years to come.

PG

Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/08/put-some-thought-into-tree-placement/