Conservation Notes: What is the right tree for you?

Although it’s the dead of winter and it’s only going to get colder, now is the time to plan and prepare for planting trees next spring. There are a few things you need to ask yourself first to make sure you get the right tree for the right spot. Why am I planting a tree? What is my soil type? How much sunlight does my planting site get?

There are essentially three types of soil: sand, loam and clay. Knowing which type you have can help in your tree selection. Some trees require a specific soil type while some trees can tolerate all types. University of Minnesota soil testing kits are available at the Chisago SWCD office.

Depth to the water table or available water is another important factor to know. Like soils, different trees have different water preferences ranging from dry to standing water.  Even if you have sand, there may be a high water table in or next to a wetland, which can cause problems for trees that do not like wet soils but thrive in sand.

Many trees can tolerate full sun or partial shade but few can tolerate heavy or full shade. Knowing how many hours of sun exposure your site has can determine which trees can grow there.

When looking for trees to plant look at the characteristics of that tree: does it produce a fruit or a nut; does it have a showy flower, how fast will it grow, how big does it get, is it evergreen or deciduous?

Knowing all of these things can help you pick a very good tree for your needs and provide that tree a good site for it to be healthy and vigorous.  It’s very important to pick the right tree for the right spot for the tree to be healthy.

There are many purposes and uses for trees. Trees provide cover and food for wildlife and food for humans. Trees provide shade on sunny days.

They can act as wind, visual and sound barriers. Trees provide aesthetics and landscape structure. They can even filter out impurities from air and water. Different species of trees have differing levels of these qualities.

Trees are a long-term investment with years of rewards.

The Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual tree and shrub sale is underway.  Order forms are available online at or can be picked up at our office (38814 Third Avenue, North Branch).

Call the SWCD at 651-674-2333 for help deciding which tree or shrub species will work on your site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *