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 questions a person needs to ask first before deciding what tree works in which spot: Why plant a tree? What is the soil type? How much sunlight does the planting site get?
There are essentially three types of soil: sand, loam and clay. Knowing which type is in a yard can help in 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 sand is present, 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 a site has can determine which trees can grow there.
When looking for trees to plant, look at the characteristics of those 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 a person pick a very good tree for their needs and provide that tree a good site where it can be healthy and vigorous. It’s very important to pick the right tree for the right spot—the selection is integral to the health of the tree.
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 www.chisagoswcd.org or can be picked up at the SWCD office (38814 Third Avenue, North Branch). Call the SWCD at 651-674-2333 for help deciding which tree or shrub species will work at a site.