A Tree’s Success Starts with the Selection Process


What if a tree was able to vet its prospective owner and landscape before agreeing to be purchased? Arborists would smile and say ‘yes,’ a young tree would whistle at the possibility! A silly idea? Well hold on a minute and consider human history.

We don’t have to look very far, especially in urban settings, to see examples of ‘problem trees.’ Is the tree really the problem? These amazing organisms are sometimes criticized for doing what comes naturally, and what millions of years of evolution led them to do. Looking back, we often see that the problem began long before when well-intentioned people anchored them in conditions and locations either unsuitable to their nature or destined for conflicts. From that moment, they were fated to do poorly, possibly fail completely, become an inconvenience or even a hazard. When a battle of wills between trees and humans ensues, the chainsaw rules because trees can’t run away. This often results in improper and needless pruning which injures and further compromises the tree’s future. The wrong tree planted in the wrong place is really a set up for failure, can you see? So, since trees can’t speak for themselves, getting professional help in choosing one is the best first step.

SelectTrees.com is a super resource. Keep these key questions in mind as you give the website a try: First ask yourself, why do you want a tree? A tree can offer various benefits such as shade, flowers, fruit, a pleasing architectural element, a screen, support for wildlife and more. Given your goals and the tree’s intended location, consider whether the space will accommodate the eventual size of the tree, as well as its roots? Will the roots affect the surrounding hard scape? What other conditions will the tree face? Is the climate, soil, and amount of sunlight suitable for the tree in the long term? Will it have sufficient drainage? How much and what type of human activity will the tree have to endure? Did you know that heavy foot traffic under the canopy compacts soil and damages tree roots? Bark wounds from things like knife carvings, manual edgers, even staplers used to affix signs can injure a tree.


It’s an oversimplification to say trees are invaluable to the welfare of humans and to the planet. Click here to learn why. When we give a tree a good start and put its care in the hands of professionals, we protect our investment, and we ensure the tree will serve us well.

It’s a pity that trees can’t talk, but another great way of getting acquainted with those in California, at least, is to walk and drive around with Matt Ritter’s novice-friendly book, A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us. You will observe where they thrive, where problems arise, and what they look like when they are all grown up.

2 Comments on “A Tree’s Success Starts with the Selection Process”

  1. My wife and I would love to add a couple of fruit trees to our new house, but we’re not sure where we’d place them and which ones we’d pick. That’s why we’re glad you elaborated on considering a tree’s growth before choosing a location for its roots. We’ll look for a tree care expert who helps us plant the right trees in our backyard next month.

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