Right Tree, Right Place

Last weekend, I pulled out all my garden books for some cross-referencing (I was smart enough not to pack my gardening and house books in storage, where most of our other treasures remain).  I was looking for the right tree for the right place in our yard.  This is probably more important than most people think, as you usually inherit the trees on the lot when you move in; but we have none.  Therefore, we have to consider the need for shade, the invasive roots of some species, the implications of the full-grown size of the trees, the maintenance and practicality of different types of trees, and the survivability of what could be a major investment.

Shade is essential on a sunny Texas lot.  I’d like a tree that could keep its leaves all year (or most of it), and a tree that grows quickly to serve as a shade maker, because both of these things will contribute to lowering our energy bills, especially important in our summers.

image from the Arbor Day Foundation

We’ll be placing the chosen trees on our larger-than-an-average city lot, but it’s not big by any means, so towering, spreading trees are probably out of the picture, even if they are tiny when we put them in the ground.  No Live Oaks for us; we need to keep our trees on the small to medium size.

We’ve learned from the past that root systems can mess up concrete walkways and foundations.  We don’t have to worry too much about our foundation, as it will be pier and beam, but we will have some concrete in our walk and driveway. Gnarled, exposed roots are certainly beautiful, but they won’t have any place on our little lot.

image from Crack in the Sidewalk

Maintenance is going to be important for very young trees.  They’ll have to be planted right, watched closely, and watered often (thank goodness the drought of last summer seems to be behind us).  Beyond early maintenance, there’s yard work as the trees mature—the cleanup of dropped leaves, flowers, seeds, and the pruning of branches.  Ideally, I’d like a tree that’s not too messy, but this isn’t a complete deal breaker, as we do enjoy getting outside and working…one thing we are looking forward to in the new smaller lot.

image from Texas Oasis

To make sure our trees survive our occasionally extreme climate down here (heat, drought, floods, hurricanes, and a few freezes), it’s best to garden with natives, or at the very least, trees that have proven themselves over time.

So, what are our chosen trees, taking in all accounts above?  Check out the labeled lot map below.

Here are my thoughts on the map:

  • I may have listed a few too many trees, but I’m trying to shade the southwestern corner of the lot and house, as well as the studio.
  • I know the Italian Cypress isn’t native, but it is proven to grow well in our area.  I even know of an abandoned house with 5 of them in the front yard.
  • I also am unable to really commit to the tree types in the front yard because I have a love-hate relationship with the Mexican Sycamore.  I want it because it’s pretty, but it’s messy, so I could be easily swayed by the choices listed.
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