Trees are the backbone of our landscapes. In yards and landscapes across the country, they add to our quality of life in many ways, yet they often are taken for granted. It's not until the sudden loss of a prime specimen plant occurs, that we realize the importance that tree held in our landscape.
A mature, healthy shade tree can add up to $1500 toward the value of a property. A mature healthy tree can cost even more to try and replace, if at all possible. It takes years for a tree to reach maturity.
Because trees can live for decades, it's important to choose varieties appropriate for the site. Take some time to consider what you want from the tree and in turn what you can provide the tree as it settles into the landscape.
Will there be enough room for the tree when it becomes an adult?
Should it be a slow growing hardwood, or a fast growing softwood, or maybe an ornamental that will stay relatively small?
Hardwood trees take considerably longer to reach maturity, but are typically stronger and live longer. Softwood trees grow much faster (which may be a consideration for areas where shade is required soon), but are more subject to wind damage and don't live as long. Some ornamentals are typically short-lived (relatively speaking) and may need to be replaced in 15 years.
Trees and shrubs are one or the other. That is, they either loose their leaves in the winter (deciduous) or they don't (evergreen). Deciduous trees' change color in the fall before dropping their leaves. Leaves on evergreen remain mostly intact throughout the season, but needled evergreens do go through a shedding process where old needles drop as new needles take their place.
Evergreen trees are preferred trees to use for year-round screening or used as a wind break. Deciduous trees are great shade providers and work especially well to help shade a home to reduce the sun's rays from striking the house during the summer, yet in the winter, allows sunlight to reach the house to improve solar gain.