Trees are beautiful! That is, until they’re getting on your last nerve, dropping sticks constantly, crowding other plants or sneaking their roots into your sewage lines. No, we’re not haters: You just have to do a little homework before you plant a tree in your yard. “There’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ tree, just a tree that’s planted in the wrong place,” says Jim Barborinas, consulting arborist with Urban Forestry Services and Urban Forest Nursery in Mount Vernon, Washington. “The first step is investigating how big that tree is going to get. Believe me, if it’s happy in its new home, it always gets bigger than you think it will.”
Trees may be a problem for a lot of reasons, including when they crowd utility lines, interfere with gutters and rooflines, or drop messy seeds and nuts, which can damage cars parked beneath them. “Before you buy, read the plant tag to learn size, growth rate and its water needs,” says Tom Smiley, senior arboricultural researcher with Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory, and vice president of the International Society of Arboriculture. “You may spend hundreds on a young tree, so you don’t want to create a maintenance nightmare and have to remove the tree later.” Also, make sure a tree is suited to your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here) so you know it will survive winters in your area.
Now save yourself some headaches down the road and avoid planting these messy trees in your yard. (And, just to ensure we’re setting you up for success, scroll all the way to the bottom of the story for a few tips on planting the right trees for you so they thrive.)