January is a great month to plant trees.
But before you grab your shovels, there are a few things to consider.
It’s too big an effort and investment to rush into planting trees on and around your property.
The most common mistakes made regarding trees are:
They are planted too close to permanent structures.
The species of tree selected is not right for our Central Texas area.
Too many trees are planted in an area.
The tree selected gets too large for its space.
Each of these problem areas can be avoided with proper planning. Getting in a rush or making snap decisions can lead to one or multiple problems down the road. More money is wasted when investing in trees before thinking it through.
Take a moment to reflect and take a look at your yard/property. Ask yourself if it needs any trees. If you feel it does, proceed.
Next, consider your soil, typical hours of sunlight, and possible planting spots in relation to your home, garage or other permanent structures, including directional exposure to the elements.
The next step is important — selecting which species of tree.
This takes some research, since you want to consider soil type, watering needs, soil drainage and size of canopy, whether you want a deciduous, evergreen, an ornamental, a spring bloomer, summer flowering or fall color specimen.
Another consideration is whether you’d like a grouping of small- to medium-sized trees versus one large canopy variety. Native species are typically the best choices since they are well adapted to the changes in the Texas climate. Staying away from invasive species is always a good idea. You may like a certain invasive for its color or growth rate, but once it is planted, there’s no way to control its spread. Insects, wind, water and animals will undoubtedly spread it to neighboring properties. A quick computer search will help.
Once a species of tree is selected, you may have to search for it. I always suggest going to a professional nursery over a “big box” store, so you can get knowledgeable advice and healthy specimens. They may even provide planting services.
January is a great time to get trees in the ground to give the roots time to establish before the heat and growing season starts.
The less stress a new tree has, the better and quicker it will take hold.
Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.