I am thinking of buying trees. What questions will I need to provide answers for?
For a tree supplier or transporter to fully satisfy you needs, you will need to tell him or her the following:
- The type, size and quantity of trees you are seeking.
- When you want them or are prepared to accept delivery.
- What you want the trees for – property enhancement, wind breaks, landscaping, etc..
- Whether you wish to plant them or have them planted for you.
- Whether your property is rural or urban – if the latter, you will need to have locates scheduled and completed prior to delivery (e.g., by Bell Canada, Hydro One or your propane supplier).
- The soil conditions on your property (e.g., loam, clay, sandy, stony/gravel, etc.).
- Your budget – what you would like to spend to accomplish the objectives above.
If you have other questions, please let us know and we will offer our expertise and suggestions.
How should I go about transplanting my new trees?
To improve your success, be mindful of these simple steps:
- Plant your trees as soon as possible after their arrival at your chosen site. Larger trees should be planted using a tree-spade or augur, depending upon the size of the tree.
- Cut off any exposed roots (if the tree is properly balled, this has already been done for you). Make sure the roots are straight down and deeply secured in the ground. Ensure the soil is firmly packed around the tree and eliminate any air pockets. Soak the tree root (ball) to ensure this is the case.
- Leave the burlap wrapping tied to the tree until the roots have had a chance to grow and provide an “anchor” into the soil – usually one full season is sufficient for this to happen. Cut the rope or string tied around the base of the tree at that time.
- Regular watering of a newly transplanted tree is critically important. Water every 3-4 days and allow the water flow to be a “trickle” rather than a torrent. You want moist soil not muddy soil.
- The best time to plant a tree is in the Spring – the soil is moist and the roots will have a chance to get established over the course of the summer months. Trees planted in the Fall should be more heavily watered and staked. If you are planting in the Fall, it is recommended that you seek professional advice.
- All transplanted trees go through a period of shock (limited growth in the first year). If you are concerned, discuss this with the specialist who sold you the trees. Different tree species adapt to this period of transplanting shock quite differently and this can be ameliorated through proper handling and tree care techniques.
- Weed control after planting is important. Weeds compete with your tree for soil nutrients, moisture and fertilizer and therefore can affect the growth, if not survival, of the tree. Good weed control ensures more sunlight and less insect and disease problems.
- The more care (appropriate fertilization, weed and pest control, water and proper pruning), the healthier your trees will be and the faster they will grow. Natural occurrences such as late frost, drought and disease can still impair the tree’s growth rate as well as the planting site you have chosen.
I have a country property and would like to plant some good shade trees – what trees would you recommend?
There are a number of trees that you might consider, but these five would be among my recommendations:
- Sugar Maples – This is the granddaddy of Canadian shade trees, an excellent and sturdy native tree (hardy to zone 4). It is slow growing and recommended for open, spacious areas. Incredibly beautiful in the Fall with its various shades of yellow, orange and red, it has a majestic globe form that spreads almost as wide as it grows high, which can be to a height of 20 metres. And you might even try your hand at tapping maple syrup for your children or grandchildren. On the other hand, your children’s children might decide to cut it down for its prized hardwood in making a cabinet dedicated to your foresight.
- Red Maples – These native trees make a statement in the rural environment (zone 3). They are vigorous growers forming shapely, upright canopies with a good branching habit. Less spectacular than the Sugars, Red maples turn scarlet come Fall. Ideal for low-lying ground, there are a variety to choose from – Deborah, Rubrum and Native Reds. It is a rapid growing tree that can adapt to a wide range of soil conditions. While young, it is pyramidal in form, becoming rounded as it matures.
- Honeylocusts – A strong, fast growing stately and distinctly symmetrical tree with small leaves that don’t cast heavy shade (zone 4). The dark green leaves hold till late fall when leaves turn yellow. The foliage keeps its beautiful appearance all summer. Virtually unknown 30 years ago, honeylocusts have become the new darling of the nursery trade. They can grow up to two feet annually and are virtually pest free.
- Eastern White Pine – This is Ontario’s official tree and is the tallest species in North America, reaching heights greater than 30 metres. They grow quickly (up to four feet/year) and add great colour and texture to any property. Pruning is ill-advised.
- Silver Maples – The distinguishing feature of these trees is that they are very fast growing and hardy. They tolerate really tough conditions where other trees might fail. They have a very graceful habit with a silver-grey colour on the underside of the leaves and a distinctive grey bark. They do well in almost any soil and turn a rich yellow in the Fall.
See our tree inventory for other zone-hardy varieties and descriptions of tree characteristics (including Fall colours).
Can the value of planting trees actually be quantified?
There is a large body of evidence, gathered by acknowledged experts, regarding the benefits of trees to the quality of life. Among this research conclusions (with the sources specified) are these:
- Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home. — American Public Power Association
- One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. — U.S. Department of Agriculture
- The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. — U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Trees reduce air conditioning needs by up to 30 per cent by providing shade for homes and businesses. — Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
- If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%. — Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research
- A mature tree can have an appraised value of between $2,000 and $10,000. — Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
- In one study, 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact” on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%. — Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests
- Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent. — Management Information Services/ICMA
- Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 % and can save 20 – 50 % in energy used for heating. — USDA Forest Service
- Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value. — USDA Forest Service
- The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of ground-water supply. Wooded areas also help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams. — USDA Forest Service
- Trees aid in recovery from illness and stress reduction. In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension. — Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, Texas A&M University
- Trees absorb and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as they grow, making them an essential tool in the fight against climate change. — Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Tree Atlas
MoneySense Magazine(back in May of 2009, page 50) had this to say about your return on investment in planting a tree(s) on your property:
“No home improvement gives you more bang for your buck – or more enjoyment for your dollar – than planting a tree. A tree provides a visual exclamation mark to your house. It serves as a great place to put up a kid’s swing. Planted on the south, west or east side of your house, it even shades your roof and cuts your cooling costs. And it’s no slouch at sales time either. Surveys show that home buyers are willing to pay $7,000 more for a house that has a tree and a few hedges.
Remember, this valuation was made in 2009 so, obviously, the value of planting trees to increase the the price of your property to a prospective buyer has increased exponentially along with the cost of homes today.
Is there good value in buying trees from a conservation authority?
Many years ago, acquiring tree stock from conservation authorities was a great value because the government heavily subsidized the planting of trees. The varieties available were generally limited however. That said, in most cases, the trees were free. That is indeed value.
I went to a sale by a local conservation authority to investigate your question first hand. I did not examine the tree seedlings available as that is an entirely different issue (and, in any event, I would not advise purchasing seedlings from this source for several reasons). Rather, my focus was on conifer and deciduous tree stock that was larger than 12 inches in height.
The conifer tree stock I examined during my visit was healthy and reasonably priced. Not necessarily a “bargain” in terms of what one might purchase from a wholesale commercial supplier (provided the stock was purchased in volume) but definitely good value. Given the early date (mid-April), the health of the deciduous stock could not be accurately determined, though I assume it was in good condition. The prices, however, were not.
Given the small size (2-3 ft. in height), the real issue would be how long you want to wait to see your tree(s) reach a decent height where you can enjoy their beauty and functionality. Ten years? Fifteen years? Maybe longer.
Value is subjective. If you believe saving a few dollars while having to wait many years for your trees to reach a reasonable height (although not maturity), then you’ve determined what value means for you. Tree height and survivability (due to better root structure) is an important consideration if your objective is to landscape your property. If it’s to reforest an unused area, then it may be of lesser concern.
I believe the real value of this kind of purchase lies in the immediate beauty and functionality of your trees. While we plant trees for our children and theirs, being able to see and enjoy them for ourselves must surely also be a consideration. Therefore, paying a bit more (not a lot more) for older, healthy tree stock is the way to go.
I have a Sugar Maple bush that I want to use for maple syrup production – how can I go about improving its health and productivity?
Everything you will ever need or want to know can be found in this 135 page booklet available free online:
Why are you so passionate about trees?
You will find my answer here.
How can I see what the the tree I want will look like as it grows in size?
Google it for photos of it’s size, shape, colour and other characteristics. Colours and shapes can vary for different reasons, including soil and other environmental conditions. But it’s a good place to start to gather the information you will want to make a good choice.
What trees are native to where I live in Ontario?
You’ll find your answer here.