An elm or oak provides shade on a sunny afternoon and even lets the world breathe a little easier. Our gardening editors share their favorite trees and explain how to help one take root in your yard.
Step by Step
Consider the eventual size of the tree and how surrounding power lines, buildings, and existing trees may be affected.
Dig a Hole
Strip away turf, and dig a hole as deep as the root-ball and two to three times wider than it. To gauge depth, use the shovel handle to measure the height of the root-ball.
Ready the Tree
For container-grown trees, remove the pot, untangle the roots, and straighten any spiraling ones. For balled and burlapped trees, remove the wire cage (snip off the cage's bottom before placing it in the hole), and cut away as much rope and burlap as possible.
Position the Tree
Set the tree so that the root flare (between the trunk and the root-ball) is two inches above the existing soil level.
Fill the Hole
Backfill with the original soil (do not amend soil); tamp it firmly.
Form a wall of soil above the root-ball's edge, creating a moat around the trunk. Fill the area with water, and let it drain; fill it again.
Spread a two-inch layer, leaving a two-inch buffer around the trunk.
Water the Tree
Give the new tree one inch of water per week, through its first season.
5 Great Shade Trees
This elm, Ulmus parvifolia, has finely textured foliage. Zones 5 to 9; 40' to 50' tall, 40' to 50' wide.
Magnolia grandiflora is known for fragrant blooms and waxy evergreen leaves. Zones 7 to 9; 60' to 80' tall, 30' to 50' wide.
Acer saccharum sports gold and orange fall foliage and supplies sap for maple syrup. Zones 4 to 8; 60' to 75' tall, 40' to 50' wide.
Northern Red Oak
Fast-growing for an oak, Quercus rubra stands straight and tall, with scarlet leaves in autumn. Zones 3 to 8; 60' to 75' tall, 60' to 75' wide.
London Plane Tree
Platanus x acerifolia is durable enough to be a roadside tree and has gray and tan bark. Zones 5 to 9; 70' to 100' tall, 65' to 80' wide.