Selecting the Right Tree

Choosing the right tree is a very important decision. By determining the right tree and the right spot to plant it will help ensure that that your tree doesn’t come in contact with any overhead electric lines.
  1. Always decide in advance what you would like your tree to do for you. Do you want shade, framing, accent color, screening, energy conservation, wildlife habitat or something else? Keep in mind the type of tree and its foliage.
  2. Always consider the height and spread of the tree once it reaches maturity. Use the information to the right to help you select an appropriate species of tree for the area you wish to plant it. Never select medium or large trees for planting near overhead utility wires.
  3. Always choose a tree that will thrive. Remember to look for a tree with a strong main trunk that is well suited to your climate and soil conditions. Avoid trees with shipping and handling damage such as trunk scrapes, broken limbs or torn roots.

Recommended trees for Northern Indiana:
Right Place

Choosing the Right Place

Choosing the right place to plant your tree can prevent future problems.
  1. Sketch your yard. Account for all structures, above-ground and below-ground utilities, and existing plants. Remember to call 811 before you begin any digging project at least 48 hours in advance to have your yard marked for any underground utilities.
  2. Mark the area for planting. This will help you determine the available space once your tree reaches maturity. Never plant large-growing trees in confined areas or near overhead utility wires.
  3. Plant the right tree in the right place. Planting in the right place is an investment in your property. Trees can help you save on your energy costs. For example, trees planted to the south and southwest of your home will help shade your house. Evergreens planted to the north and northwest can provide a barrier to the bitter cold of winter winds.

Proper PlantingPlanting the Right Way

Remember, before you begin digging, locate any underground utility lines. Call "811" at least 48 hours in advance of your next project. Follow these steps when planting:


  1. Dig the hole. Dig the hole to the same depth as the bottom of the trunk flare of your tree. Make the hole twice as wide as the root ball of your tree so the roots can push through the soil as they develop.
  2. Free the Roots. If your tree came in a container, remove it and spread or loosen the roots that may be curled. If your tree is in burlap or a wire basket, remove these materials from the top third of the root ball and remove any rope or twine that is around the trunk of the tree.
  3. Lift and place the tree. Place the tree in the hole by lifting the tree by its root ball, not its trunk. This avoids damage to tender feeder roots. The bottom of the trunk flare should be even with or slightly higher than surrounding soil.
  4. Backfill the hole. Backfill the hole with the original dirt, occasionally watering to help settle the soil.
  5. Break up the dirt. Break up any large masses of dirt and remove any clumps of sod. You may mix slow-release fertilizer granules with the soil.
  6. Spread mulch. Spread 2-4 inches of organic mulch around the base of the tree but make sure to leave a 1 inch gap between the trunk and the mulch ring. Mulch allows the soil to retain moisture and protects the trunk from lawn mower scrapes and string trimmer damage.
  7. Water thoroughly. Water the tree thoroughly at least once each week, but avoid overwatering. Slow, soaking watering ensures good saturation without depriving the roots of air for extended periods.
  8. Stake if Necessary. Staking the tree is not necessary unless the tree is very large or planted on an exposed, windy site. If stakes are used, remove them one year after planting.

Pruning LocationCaring For Your Tree

Correct pruning is the best thing you can do for your tree. When removing large limbs, use the double cut method:
  1. Make Cut A from bottom of branch away from the trunk.
  2. Make Cut B on the top of the limb until it breaks free.
  3. Make Cut C from underneath near the trunk to prevent bark ripping. The cuts should be just outside the collar leaving the branch collar intact.
  4. Make Cut D to complete removal. DO NOT Make flush cuts behind the branch collar. DO NOT Leave living or dead stubs.

Pruning Tips:

  • Prune flowering trees just after they flower. Pruning before flowering removes flower buds.
  • Prune hardwood and evergreen trees during the dormant season of late fall and winter.
  • Prune dead or dying branches anytime.
  • Use sharp tools! Make clean cuts! Be careful with all tools. Safety first.