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What Tree Should I Plant?

Have a lot of space available on your property? Are you considering adding some trees? Are you wondering, What tree should I plant? Not all trees are created equal. When you find the right tree for your specific conditions, you’ll get the absolute best results, which you can enjoy for years to come. Read on below for some expert advice that will help you decide what tree to plant.

What Are the Different Uses of the Trees I Could Plant?


Different types of trees serve different roles within a landscape. Some, like maple, sycamore, and ash, will provide excellent shade, which can naturally cool your home and lower your energy bills. If you live in an area with high wind and heavy storms, planting evergreens will help to serve as a windbreak.

Meanwhile, others, like crabapple, dogwood, and willow, are perfectly ornamental. And there are trees with multiple benefits, like those that produce flowers and/or fruit.
Even within these specific categories, there are still a number of options So, you may be asking yourself, How do I further narrow down to choose what tree I should plant?

What Tree Should I Plant Based on Where I Live?

Ensuring the healthiest, strongest, best-looking trees means making sure they’re being planted in the right climate. Different areas throughout the country have what are known as hardiness zones. Knowing which hardiness zone you live in will help you determine the best trees to plant.

In the Portland area of Oregon, for instance, you’ll find Hardiness Zones 8 to 9.

Trees will have guidelines for which hardiness zones they should be planted in. Some of the zone ranges are broader than others. For instance, many trees can be planted in Zones 4 to 9. But what if you’re still unsure whether a tree is right for the zone you live in? You can always reach out and consult with a professional arborist.

How Do Growing Conditions Determine What Tree I Should Plant?

In addition to the overall area where you reside, the planting conditions of your property will make a big difference. These include soil, sunlight, drainage, and more.

What Tree Should I Plant Based on the Type of Soil?

Soil is one of the absolute most important factors for healthy, well-grown trees. If you’re new to planting trees, you may not realize just how many variations of soil there are. Never mind the repercussions of planting a tree in an unsuitable type of soil.

The types of soil include sandy, loamy, clay, chalky, peaty, and silty. The type of soil also impacts drainage, another very important factor in choosing the right kind of tree. So, you may be asking yourself, how do I know which is which? And what tree should I plant for the soil I have?

  • Clay soil is hard when dry and sticky when wet, much like the clay you used in art class. Clay soil drains slowly, but a benefit of this is that it maintains its nutrients. The best trees to plant in clay soil include white pine, red maple, poplar, and white cedar.
  • Sandy soil is, as you may expect, pretty gritty in texture. It drains much more quickly than clay soil. The best trees to plant in sandy soil are white pine, red pine, red oak, and poplar.
  • Loamy soil is like a mix of sandy, clay, and silty soil. It retains the water and the nutrients well, making great conditions for a number of trees. These include red oak, red maple, sugar maple, poplar, white spruce, white ash, and white cedar.
  • Chalky soil is more alkaline. It drains water pretty quickly. Most recommend adding fertilizer to make sure the trees get enough nutrients.
  • Silty soil retains more moisture than sandy soil.
  • Peaty soil is acidic. While it retains moisture, it’s not as successful as maintaining nutrients.

How Does Sunlight Impact What Trees I Should Plant?

Some trees need as much direct sunlight as possible. Others will grow just fine, if not even better, with more shade. You can’t just choose a tree based on the sunlight, however. You still need to accommodate the soil and moisture conditions.

Some trees prefer full sun. If you have full sun and a type of soil that retains moisture, consider evergreen trees like the peppermint willow. For full sun and drier soil, look for trees that are specifically drought tolerant, such as atlas cedars. Some trees won’t be drought tolerant until they’re established. Trees that will thrive in full sun and alkaline soils include the hackberry and willow acacia.

Other trees grow well in mostly sunny, partial sun, and/or partial shade. A popular type of tree in this category is the Japanese maple, which grows well in Zones 5 to 9. They also grow best in clay, sandy, and loamy soil that will drain well. These trees can grow in full sun or partial sun and partial shade.

There are also trees that grow well in partial shade to mostly shade. Some of these trees are specified as shade tolerant. For instance, most magnolia trees, which grow in Zones 5 to 9 and prefer moist soil.

A lot of shade-tolerant trees work as understory trees—to grow under the shade provided by taller trees. One example is the eastern redbud, which grows well in well-drained soil.
There are a number of different types of dogwood trees that grow well in partial shade. And these trees typically don’t grow more than 25 feet tall. This is important because the amount of space on your property also influences what type of trees you should plant.

What Difference Does the Size of My Property Make?

You’ll want to be very careful about giving the trees you choose enough room to grow fully. Before committing to a tree, know exactly how tall and wide it can potentially grow. Be sure you have enough space before you plant. You don’t want your trees to be overcrowding and overlapping each other.

What About Maintenance?

For this factor, be honest with yourself. If you’re ready to devote a lot of care and maintenance to trees, then you don’t need to worry.

If you’re not ready to devote so much time and effort, then look for low-maintenance types of trees. Some may be low maintenance the entire time, while others are higher maintenance until after they have been established.

For more advice on what trees to plant, look through more helpful blog articles on Mr. Tree’s website. With decades of experience, we are the experts on what trees you should plant in the Portland area. We also provide both residential and commercial tree services that will keep your trees in the best possible shape. These services include pruning, trimming, removal, and more. If you have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.