Guidance for Spring Tree Selection

04-25-2017 in Green Farmstead Partner

Spring is finally here! Planning a tree planting? Selecting the right trees for the right purpose is key to enabling trees to reach their full potential. When properly planted, trees can last a lifetime, so spending time to research the best trees for your location will pay off in the long run. Here are a few tips and tricks for successful selection.
What will the purpose of your trees be? Windbreaks, odor control and shade are common purposes for incorporating trees on livestock farms. Considering the purpose of your planting will positively impact tree life and effectiveness.
Accounting for mature height when selecting trees can prevent many issues when trees reach full size. Spread and height of trees vary due to soil and other environmental conditions. Researching the amount of space you have to work with can help you avoid trees growing into power lines, overcrowding, and interfering with views. Less maintenance is needed when appropriate sized trees are selected.
Pest Susceptibility
Knowledge of tree susceptibility to pests and diseases can often make or break the longevity of your tree planting. Every tree species has particular pest problems and each varies geographically. Select tree species that will be tolerant of the pests in your area.
Familiarity with Iowa’s USDA Hardiness Zone Map is important when considering the ideal tree selection. Most of Iowa falls within hardiness Zone 5 where average minimum temperatures range between -10 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there are a few small pockets in northwest and northeast Iowa that fall within Zone 4, where average minimum temperatures range from -20 to -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tolerance to heat and drought are also important to consider as hot, dry weather weakens trees. Following the map considerations will help to avoid premature tree loss and save you money!
Soil and Sun Conditions
Soil and sun attributes strongly affect trees and shrubs. The quality and amount of soil can limit tree growth if not taken into account prior to planting. Soil surveys are extremely beneficial in determining the type of soil on your farm.
The amount of sunlight available will also affect tree selection. Most woody plants require full sunlight to thrive. Some can do well in light shade but very few do well in densely shaded areas.
For questions and concerns when determining species selection, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit We’ll connect you with one of our landscape or nursery professionals participating in the Green Farmstead Partner program.
By: Emma Wilson, CSIF Intern

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