The Q&A Archives: Which Kind Of Tree Should I Plamt?

Question: For my Eagle Project I am going to plant trees at a local park here in Mesa, Arizona. I was asked to do a little research to see which kind of trees would do best in our kind of environment. The weather here in Mesa is very dry and hot. The place where I will be planting these trees is about forty feet away from a pond. The choices I have been given are thee that folow: Chinese Pistachio, Shamalash, and the Medesto Pine tree. I would really appreciate it if you could give me your proffessional opinion about which tree's would be best to plant in my situation.

Answer: Before selecting any plant (tree, shrub, perennial, etc.), answer a few questions. 1. What do you want the plant to do? Provide shade, color, food & habitat for birds, aroma, promote energy efficiency by protecting a building, etc.? 2. How much space does the plant have to grow to its full size? This is crucial and often ignored when we see tiny seedlings in one-gallon pots. All plants should be located where they have room to grow to their full height and width with minimal pruning. Trees should NEVER be topped. 3. What are the conditions where the plant will grow, and does it thrive in those conditions? In other words, full sun, partial shade, soil with good/poor drainage, etc. 4. What maintenance requirements does the plant have, and will they be met? In other words, does the tree drop alot of litter onto a sidewalk? Does it need more regular watering than desert-adapted plants, and will that water be supplied by an irrigation system, or an Eagle Scout with a hose? What happens when the Eagle Scout moves away?! As you can see, there are many things to take into consideration. There is a free brochure called Guide to Arizona Desert Shade Trees that lists recommended trees for the low desert, and provides info on their characteristics. I think it would be helpful for you. I know that it is available at Maricopa County Cooperative Extension, 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix. They are open M-F, 8-5. The City of Mesa Water Conservation Dept. might also have it. It is produced by the Arizona Community Tree Council and they might be able to tell you where you can get it. 602-542-6191. Chinese Pistache is on the recommended list, but the other two trees are not. Finally, there is info in a book called "Desert Landscaping for Beginners" that would be useful to you, in particular the chapter on selecting and transplanting. The ISBN is 0-9651987-3-1. The Mesa Library might have it, or it is available at bookstores, nurseries and Cooperative Extension (who published it). I hope this info helps. Tree planting is a worthy project!

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