How To Analyze The Site: “Getting the right tree in the right place…”

Species Selection

Consider the shape and mature size of the tree species you are interested in planting.  Most local nurseries and municipal forestry programs will have a list of trees that are recommended for your specific area.  If you would like to plant a tree on city right of way between the curb and sidewalk, check with your city forester for approved species and location requirements.  Many cities have tree planting programs in which adjacent property owners may purchase a tree at a reduced or shared cost.

Utilities

Make sure the mature size of the tree you have selected will not interfere with overhead utility lines, street lights, fire hydrants, communication towers, or solar collectors.

Underground utilities can be located at no cost by calling 811.  Gas and electric, communications, city water, and sewer will usually be marked in two business days.  Please avoid planting too close to these service lines.  If repairs ever need to be made to a service utility, your tree may be compromised if it is in the way.

Heating/Cooling

Think about tree placement and species selection to block the heat from the summer sun, or to protect against cold winter winds.  Planted on the southwest side of a building, a deciduous tree can offer shade in summer while allowing the sun to penetrate through its crown in winter months to provide heat.

Spacing

When selecting your tree, find out how tall it will be at maturity and how wide its crown will be.  Check with your city forester for spacing requirements if you plan to plant a boulevard tree.  For private landscapes there are usually no set requirements, although over planting is a common mistake.  Trees need room to grow, and overcrowding leads to poor development of the crown and root systems as they compete for light, soil nutrients, and water.

Soil and Irrigation

Check with your local nursery or other source for information on the soil profile for your area.  Some tree species will perform differently depending on soil pH, minerals in the soil, and soil texture.  Observe the trees in surrounding areas.  Take note on which species are doing well in specific places, and which species seem to be under stress.  Ask your nursery what the watering requirements are for tree species you are interested in, according to your soil profile.  For example, if you live in an area with a water table that is close to the surface, you may want to avoid trees that prefer a dry, arid climate.  In areas without irrigation, you will have better success with a drought-tolerant species.  Keep in mind, however, that these trees still need water!

Planting Species Lists From around Montana

Bozeman Planting List

Billings Planting List

Kalispell Planting List

Missoula Planting List

Nurseries in Montana

Montana Nursery Landscape Association