Want to Plant a Tree?
About this Tree Guide
The Pleasant Grove City Council invited its’ Beautification Commission to put together a tree guide for trees that will do well in the Pleasant Grove area. We are pleased to introduce this tree guide as a resource for helping citizens of Pleasant Grove select trees that will do well in our area and meet their needs and interests. This tree guide provides useful information about size, relative growth rates, and other features such as water requirements, fall color, edible fruit, and more! The tree guide is categorized by the following:
- Boulevard/park strip trees – includes trees that are smaller in size and typically have a narrow or columnar growth habit. These features are important when planting in boulevards or park strips to reduce or eliminate a number of potential problems later as the tree matures. Poor selection of trees for a boulevard or park strip can results in things such as roots lifting sidewalks, branches interfering with driver visibility, branches inferring with power lines, unsightliness, other safety hazards, etc.
- Utility trees – includes smaller varieties of trees and includes some of the same trees as identified in the boulevard/park strip classification. The difference between the “utility” and “boulevard/park” strip classifications is this classification will include trees with smaller growth habits, but not necessarily a narrow or columnar growth pattern. Also, this classification includes both *deciduous and **coniferous varieties whereas the boulevard/park strip classification includes deciduous varieties only.
- Mid-sized trees – includes trees of both deciduous and coniferous varieties which typically require spacing between mature trees of 20 feet or more.
- Large-sized trees – includes trees of both deciduous and coniferous varieties which typically require spacing between mature trees of 35 feet or more.
This publication is to be used as a guide when choosing a tree that will do well in the Pleasant Grove area. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other trees no found in this guide, that may do well in Pleasant Grove.
Selecting a Tree
To select a tree not listed in this guide, here are some considerations to keep in mind.
- Look for trees that will do well in zone 5 or lower. The USDA has created a plant hardiness zone map that is divided into 10 regions that are defined by the average minimum winter temperatures. Our zone is 5b with a minimum temperature of -10° to -15°. Plants that are zoned higher (6-10) can’t take temperatures lower than this. That being said, there are microclimates in your neighborhoods and even in your own yard that may not get as cold as a zone 5b. That is why you will see trees for zone 6 surviving here. If you do choose a tree that is zoned higher than a 5b, be prepared that it may not survive one of our extra cold winters.
- Look for trees that have a strong branch structure that are not prone to breakage in storms or heavy snow events. You can research whether or not a tree is prone to breakage online, through our local garden nurseries, or a good reference guide such as Dirr’s “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants”. Some trees that are more prone to breakage are: Flowering Pears, all Willow Trees, Purple Leaf Flowering Plums, Siberian Elms, Trees of Heaven, Cottonwood Trees and any tree with branches that form a sharp V shape at the crotch. The faster a tree grows, the weaker the branches will be. Good pruning practices can help lessen the risk of branch breakage. If you decide to choose a tree that is prone to branch breakage, only plant those varieties where they will not be a liability to people or property.
- Know your soils PH. The PH of soils is determined by a soil test. Most soils range between a PH of 5 (very acid) to 8 (very alkaline) with 7 being neutral. Pleasant Grove soils are quite alkaline and generally average between a PH of 6.5 to 8. Plants that need a more acidic soil, such as blueberries, azaleas, white pines, red oaks and certain maples, do not do well here. It is very difficult to change the PH of our soil because the water here is also alkaline. You can try to modify the PH of the soil by regularly adding compost, mulching with acidic mulch, such as pine needles, adding soil sulfur and fertilizing with acidic fertilizer. None of those methods will modify the soil’s PH as deep as the trees roots will go and none are permanent fixes. They need to be repeated yearly to be effective for more shallowly rooted plants. You can research the PH needs of a plant through our local nurseries, online, or through good reference manuals.
- Know a plants sun, shade, nutrients and water requirements. Each plant has different needs. The sun is harsher in the Rocky Mountain States because of our altitude and lack of humidity. Plants that need full sun generally need to be put in a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun a day. Some plants that can deal with full sun on the east coast may need more shade in our area. Research the needs of each tree that you would like to plant to make sure you have the right spot for it. If a tree needs part shade, be sure to put it in the shade of another tree or building where it will get some sun during the day. If it needs full sun, be sure to not put it in an area where it will not get the sun it needs. Consider the growth habits of other trees and vegetation nearby that may have an impact on your tree in the future.
- Know the disease and insect pests for each tree you would like to plant and make sure that they are not an issue in our area. The local nurseries in our area are a good resource for this kind of research.
Resources for research: USU Tree Browser http://www.treebrowser.org/
USU Extension http://forestry.usu.edu/
Dirr’s “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants”
“Sunset Western Garden Book”
Here are some things to consider when choosing a tree at a nursery:
- Balled and burlapped trees- Balled and burlapped trees are priced by the width of the trunk about 4.5 feet above the ground. They are generally larger and more mature trees. They are dug out of the ground in the early spring and in the fall while they are dormant. When they are dug out of the ground, the roots are severed and then the root ball is bound in burlap to protect it. The larger the tree was when it was dug out of the ground, the more stunted it will be once it is replanted. Trees up to 2″ of diameter should do fine and will grow well. The diameter of a tree (tree caliper) is measured 4.5 feet up from the ground. The larger diameter trees will be stunted and may never catch up in growth to trees that were a smaller diameter when they were dug out of the ground.
- Potted Trees – Potted trees are priced by the size of the pot. They are usually started in a pot and then transplanted to bigger pots as they mature. The biggest issue to watch for with potted trees are circling roots. As the tree matures and grows in its pot, the roots can start to circle the pot. If they circle too much, especially at the top of the root ball, they can eventually strangle the tree and it will die. You can generally see the problem roots, if they exist, in the top few inches of soil.
- The larger the tree, the more important it is to choose from a reputable nursery. Smaller box stores can have good prices but the care of the tree while at those stores may not be optimal. Look for trees that have been well cared for while at the store or nursery. Drought or nutrient stressed trees may recover if they are a young tree but will probably struggle once planted if they are more mature.
Planting a Tree
The USU has a good article on planting trees at http://forestry.usu.edu/htm/city-and-town/tree-planting/ten-tree-planting-rules. The following steps were taken from that article.
- Choose the right tree for your site using the steps we have outlined in the paragraphs above.
- If you need to wait before planting your tree, be sure to keep it shaded and moist. Be very careful not to disturb the root ball by dropping the tree or treating it roughly.
- Remove all labels, wires or ropes from the trees branches and trunk. You do not want them to girdle (dig into) the tree as it grows.
- Dig a hole that is 2 to 3 times the width of the root ball. A balled and burlapped tree should be planted with the root collar just above the level of the soil. Do not bury the top of the root ball. A potted tree should be planted so the soil level in the pot is level with the soil it is planted in and should also not be planted too deeply. Be sure to identify and gently tease out any circling roots. If the circling roots are large and mature, leave them alone.
- Balled and burlapped trees need to have as much of the wire and burlap removed as possible. To protect the tree’s root ball, place the tree in the hole with all the wire and burlap intact. Backfill just until the tree is stabilized and then remove as much of the wire and burlap as possible without breaking the root ball. It is ok to leave some wire and burlap at the bottom of the hole, it will naturally decompose.
- Backfill with native soil. Do not add fertilizer for at least the first year. If you need to backfill with soil amendment use 25% peat or compost to 75% native soil.
- Do not cut back the top portion of the tree. You can cut out dead branches, double leaders or branches that are interfering with other branches. Do not prune the tree the first year, and follow proper pruning practices thereafter. Allow some of the lower branches to remain on the tree to strengthen the trunk while it is young. You can slowly remove lower branches to the desired height over the span of 5 years.
- Keep a newly planted tree moist for the first few weeks after planting by watering it a couple of times a weeks. Water only when the top couple of inches of the soil are dry. Once established, water deeply and infrequently for the lifetime of the tree.
- One of the most important steps is to apply 2″ to 4″ of mulch around the tree up to 3 times the root ball diameter. As the tree grows, increase the circumference of the mulch. Do not pile the mulch around the trunk of the tree as that encourages root rot.
- Only wrap a trunk or stake a tree if necessary. The only times you should stake a tree is if it is in an area where there is a lot of wind, or if the crown of the tree is so much larger than the root ball that the tree won’t stand up straight on its own. If you need to stake a tree, stake it loosely and only stake it for 1 to 2 years.
Tree Guide List
This tree guide list is broken up into four categorizations including (1) boulevard/park strip trees, (2) utility trees, (3) mid-sized trees, or (4) large-sized trees. Each tree in this tree guide has the following summary list:
- Scientific Name – the scientific name is provided
- Size – the width and height at maturity is provided
- Drought Tolerance – each tree is classified as to how waterwise it is with a designation of high, medium, or low.
- Native Plant – each tree has a “yes” or “no” to indicate whether it is a native Utah plant or not.
- Fall Color – each tree has description of the typical fall color the tree displays.
- Edible Fruit – each tree has a “yes” or “no” to indicate whether it has edible fruit or not.
- Growth Rate – each tree has a growth rate designation of “fast, medium, or slow”.