Finding the Perfect Shade Tree

Another very handy post from Blooming Rock that I have to pass along, this time about how to pick the right tree for the right location from guest blogger Lysistrata Hall, a Landscape Architect I with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and one of the principal authors of the Tree and Shade Master Plan.

I won’t re-type Hall’s whole post; instead I will just summarize the key points here: Know your context, know your needs, and know your tree. (For guidelines to help you elaborate on these three themes, Hall’s post has a series of detailed questions to work through.)

There are only about 5 -10 species of trees that are commonly used in tree plantings. These can vary by region; in the Midwest, primarily honeylocust, maples, elms, oaks, lindens, crabapples, Bradford pears (and ash in the past).Tree species diversity has been sacrificed for convenience, (supposed) resistance to pests and infestations, and aesthetics. But it has come at a cost.

Diverse species communities are more productive and more stable than communities that are simpler. This means that plant communities with more species in them are more resistant to disease, to natural disaster, and better able to adapt to climate extremes. Diverse communities can provide also more ecosystem services (for example, diverse green roofs hold more stormwater than ones with fewer species). Finally, diverse communities can also support more wildlife. These are just a few of the important reasons why we should be paying close attention to species selection when planting street trees.

“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”
– Aldo Leopold

Image: KennethMoyle

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