What trees to plant?

Asked June 15, 2017, 10:48 PM EDT

Hello We have a little bit of property and would like to plant some trees. However, we would like "low maintenance" trees, meaning trees that do NOT shed their needles or leaves and grow quicker rather than slower. We know we should be looking at evergreens but not sure of what type of evergreens. Suggestions please! Also, how far apart should we plant the trees and is it okay to plant in the fall?

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Advice on choosing trees involves many issues. I'll address a few, and encourage you to check back as you progress. We can offer "pros and cons" between specific tree choices once you have a few possibilities to consider. A site photo helps me a great deal when offering suggestions, too.
Visit a few nurseries in your area and find employees you trust to offer advice. Take photos of your property to share. There are many trees which grow here, but not all of them are actually available for sale. Some are available certain times of the year, or can be ordered for you when they are freshly dug. Planting in the fall is generally a good idea, but I caution that it is hard to find healthy trees to buy that time of year. Learn how to check the rootball and growth structure of trees for sale, and find out how to get the healthiest new trees. It will be worth the wait and planning.
Spacing depends on the trees you choose and your plans for thinning as they grow.
The rate of growth is a common stumbling block for homeowners when tree shopping. The fast-growers don't reach a certain height and stop, but keep going. They will need pruning or hedging or removal and can be weak growers meaning more breakage. Study the good and the bad about each tree choice rather than choosing only for "fast". Look for mature specimens in your area so you know what to expect. For instance, do you want growth at the lower levels to remain for screening, or do you want the crown to cast shade so lower-limb shedding is preferred?
Find out which soil you have and what your drainage is. Consider wet and dry spots, and winds. Look at what trees on surrounding properties do best for hints about yours.
When planting and establishing the new trees, check for the current advice (publication from OSU link below). Watering occasionally the first few dry summers, keeping mulch around the plant, and weeds removed helps the young plants. How the tree is planted is important: not too high or too deep, without circling roots, and don't amend the planting hole. Use the native soil.
"Selecting, Planting, and Caring for a New Tree", EC 1438: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1438
This article is a summary and easy-to-read jump-start to the issue: "Get help selecting and planting a tree with the touch of a finger" http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/2016/01/get-help-selecting-and-planting-tree-touch-finger