Ann Wright: Ornamental and shade trees |

Ann Wright: Ornamental and shade trees

Ann Wright


WHO: Master Gardener’s

WHAT: Workshops “Trees for Nevada County Landscape”

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 26

WHERE: Grass Valley Elks Lodge, 109 South School Street, Grass Valley

WHAT: Workshop “The Art and Science of Pruning Fruit Trees”

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 9

WHERE: Grass Valley Elks Lodge, 109 South School Street, Grass Valley

MORE INFO: 530-273-0919

Choosing a tree for the landscape is possibly one of the most important decisions property owners will make for garden landscapes. Trees are long term investments — many trees take years to grow to their full beauty. After sitting under a large shade tree on a hot, sunny day, who could ever calculate its real value? Losing a mature tree to insects, diseases or storm damage can be heartbreaking as well as expensive. Plan ahead before planting a tree.

Selecting trees that will thrive in a given set of site conditions is the key to long-term tree survival. The tree selection process should include looking at the hardiness zone, sun and wind exposure, insect and disease susceptibility of the tree, soil and drainage conditions in the terrain as well as human and animal activity. Other things to consider when planning to add trees to the landscape include:

What size tree is best suited for the location and available space? (For information about fire safety and defensible space, readers are referred to the Nevada county Fire Safe Council at

Will overhead or in-ground utilities cause future problems if a large tree is growing in a space – or should any tree at all be planted?

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What clearance is needed for sidewalks, patios or driveways?

Will tree roots interfere with patios, sidewalks or septic systems? Will fruit stain the walkways or patio?

What are the soil conditions? Is enough soil available to support mature tree growth? Young tree roots will grow best in moist, loose soil; roots will not grow well or at all in very compacted, dry soil.

How much water will the tree require?

When planting new trees, dig a hole at least twice the diameter of the container the tree is in. If the soil is highly compacted, the hole may need to be 3 to 4 times the diameter of the container. Plant trees no deeper than 2 inches below the depth of the soil in the container – trees planted too deeply risk crown rot as the root ball may sink too deeply into the soil. As new trees are generally fertilized at the nursery, it is not recommended to add fertilizer, root stimulants or other soil amendments to the planting hole.

Newly planted trees may need staking for protection or support, although trees that can stand by themselves such as conifers and bare-root trees generally do not require staking. Staking depends on the size and type of tree as well as the landscape situation, such as in areas that are protected from the wind. Trees may develop stronger structure if not staked, but staking may be necessary for the first year to help the tree maintain an upright structure (from UC Agricultural and Natural Resources publication #8046, ).

To learn more about ornamental trees, plan to attend the Master Gardeners’ workshop, Trees for Nevada County Landscape to be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, October 26th at the Grass Valley Elks Lodge (109 South School Street). The workshop is designed for anyone interested in adding shade or ornamental trees to the landscape. The basics of site selection, tree planting and care will be discussed as well as upkeep of California’s oaks. Examples of trees that are well-suited to Nevada County will be provided.

The final workshop of the season, The Art and Science of Pruning Fruit Trees will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 9, also at the Elks Lodge in Grass Valley. Contact Master Gardeners at the Hotline, 530-273-0919 for questions about home gardening, or for more information about upcoming workshops. More information is also available on our website at

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.

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