COMMUNITY TREE SELECTION
What is this?
Why does it matter?
- Community tree selection means choosing public trees for superior
performances under urban conditions AND for particular planting sites
- Other reasons for choosing trees--beauty, cost, local availability,
tradition, etc--are secondary to these two primary criteria when choosing
Red maple showing
chlorosis on alkaline soil
- By choosing trees on the basis of known performance on particular
planting sites, planners can create a better urban forest by minimizing
- Time-consuming, expensive, and dangerous difficulties routinely
arise when species are planted that will not perform well.
- Examples of bad community choices might be:
- a drought-intolerant species like horse chestnut for a
- an acid-loving species such as red maple for an
- a weak-branched species such as Bradford pear for a site
with ice storms
- a large, rapid-growing species such as silver maple for
a site beneath wires
- a species subject to debilitating disease such as flowering
- planting only a few common species such as norway maple
and green ash
What are the best trees to choose?
How much trouble is it, and what does it cost?
- No "best trees" can be identified without first knowing the
purpose of the planting and the nature of the planting site.
- The "best trees" will be those that will satisfy a particular
goal (shade, screen, ornament, species diversity, etc.) on a specific
site with the fewest long-term problems.
- Some combinations of goal and site will allow only a few optimal
tree choices, while others will permit a large number of possibilities.
- To optimize the fit between tree and site, analyze the planting
area (for drainage, growth limitations, pH, etc.) before selecting.
- To reduce later trouble, maintain "species diversity" so that
any problem will only affect part of the forest.
Where can I get more information?
- Careful tree selection takes more effort in the short run,
but in the long run it takes much less effort and costs much less.
- Once you know what trees you are looking for, try local sources
first. They may not carry the species or cultivar you want, but the consumer
pressure is good for them in any case.
- You will probably end up having some of your trees shipped from
a non-local source, or picking them up yourself. For availability and
quality, order 6 months before you plant.
For other information, advice and help on this topic, check the publications
of your state land grant univeristy, call the offices of your State Urban
Forestry Coordinator, or visit urban forestry websites.