Planting in Three Dimensions (3D)

When you plant a tree there are many things to consider about its location. The amount of sun it needs, the soil qualities and the size of the plant are some things that need to be considered. When you think about the size of the plant you need to think in three dimensions: the height of the tree, the diameter of the tree, and the root spread of the tree.

The First Dimension: The Height
The height of the tree is pretty self explanatory. Take some time to consider barriers to the trees height and plant appropriately. Watch out for power lines and other structures that are important to avoid. Planting a large tree like a maple or oak underneath or too close to a power line is just asking for trouble, instead you should consider a smaller tree. Under story trees like the redbud and the dogwood tend to be smaller in size and will fit better beneath power lines and other man made structures.

The Second Dimension: The Diameter of the Canopy
You should space the tree so that the diameter of the canopy would be away from any obstacles in your yard. Don't plant too close to the house since fallen branches can cause considerable damage to your property. Don't forgot about the spread of the tree and consider how it will affect mowing or planting plants beneath it. You should think about where the shade will cover. Planting an appropriate deciduous tree near your house can help lower cooling bills in the summer.

The Third Dimension: The Roots
The roots will extend beyond the drip-line of the tree to reach for the water the tree needs to survive. The drip-line is the edge of the branches of the tree. Avoid placing your tree where the drip line will be near sewer lines or underground utility lines since the roots will eventually be in that area. Sidewalks could be a concern also as many trees have large roots that grow above ground. The roots could crack or break the concrete.

Don't forget about these three dimensions when planting your tree so you can avoid big mistakes! In fact I've been considering moving the willow I put in this fall. I was more concerned with providing a fast screen for privacy and did not consider all the problems associated with willows. Willows tend to drop sticks and small branches on a regular basis. The roots are also very adept at finding water. The location I put it in is still a good 25 feet away from any structures in my yard, but I think I want some more distance from our house. I have a couple of places in the backyard to move it to and I even have an idea of how to replace the willow. Fortunately the willow's roots should not have extended too far yet and I have time to correct my mistake!

Labels: ,