fruit tree

The long-term success of your tree will depend on whether you have selected the “right tree for the right place.” You will want to determine which tree species will meet your primary objectives for planting a tree and which species will be able to survive in the conditions of your site.

Many factors affect the successful establishment of a planted tree in our landscape. What are referred to as “native” plants have adapted to grow in our local ecosystems over thousands of years. Native trees will require the least amount of maintenance, have the best chance of survival and will best support our pollinators and other insects.

What to consider when choosing a tree:

  • Does it grow naturally in this region, referred to as a “native” tree?
  • Does it grow too aggressively, such that it harms our local ecosystems, referred to as an “invasive” tree?
  • What will the height and width of the tree’s canopy be when it’s mature?
  • How fast will it grow?
  • Is it an evergreen? (relevant to use for privacy screening) or deciduous (loses leaves annually)?
  • Does it grow a single or multiple trunks?
  • Does it produce fruits or nuts for human consumption?
  • Does it produce flowers, fruits or nuts, and shelter that support local wildlife?
  • How much sunlight or shade does it require?
  • Is it capable of withstanding our local low winter temperatures (plant hardiness)?
  • Is it capable of surviving on annual rainfall without the need for irrigation (after the first year or two when it will be watered once per week in summer)?
  • Is it capable of tolerating de-icing road salt, if the site is near a salted road?
  • Is it capable of coping with our changing climate?

Site factors to consider when choosing a tree:

  • Is there sufficient space to grow to maturity, including consideration of the presence of overhead utility wires and buildings?
  • Is there sufficient space for roots to grow without impediment?
  • How much sunlight or shade is available?
  • What is the soil type and condition, including drainage?
  • Does the site get sprayed with de-icing road salt?
  • Will any flowers, pollen, fruit or nuts it drops naturally create a hazard in this particular site, for example a slipping hazard on a sidewalk?

We recommend that you plant native trees to support our local ecosystem. Two great lists of these native trees can be found below:

Title: Native Plant List for New York, Pennsylvania and Northern New Jersey
Sponsoring Organization: Plant
Description: A starter list of native trees and other plants that provides the name of each tree, as well as the sun and moisture needs. Ultimate Height and wildlife benefits are also included.

Title: Go Native-Recommended Westchester County Native Plants for Homeowners and Landscapers
Sponsoring Organizations: Westchester County Parks, The Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County and The League of Women Voters
Description: Brochure recommending specific native trees and other native plants for Westchester County and explaining the value of native plants. Provides tree names, light and moisture needs, ultimate height, bloom times and wildlife value.