Though autumn is the preferred planting season in the Pacific Northwest, many communities plant trees in spring to coincide with the celebration of Arbor Day (which will be here before you know it!). But regardless of when you plant, there is never a bad time to reinforce the importance of knowing your planting site before planting a tree.

Selecting and planting a tree without first assessing the planting site is… well, it’s kind of like throwing the football when it’s 2nd down and one yard to go before crossing the goal line—you might get lucky, but you’re taking a huge (and possibly costly) risk that may not work out.

Oly palm tree
These palms are not well suited to the conditions of their planting site (duh). Photo by Micki McNaughton/DNR

Healthy, sturdy trees begin with the right planting location.

Assess the conditions of your planting site, such as the soil volume for root growth, space for canopy development, regional climate, microclimate, wind patterns, site usage, soil type, utilities (both above and below ground), site exposure, slope, hydrology, etc., etc. Just like in sports, winning results in the field are the result of diligent preparation.

The message here is simple: don’t make a decision you may regret. Be sure you understand the unique conditions and circumstances that your tree will have to deal with through its entire life before planting in any particular location. We MUST plant trees in places where they will thrive if we want our investment in trees to deliver positive returns in the form of energy conservation, clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and community livability. Remember the mantra, “Right Tree, Right Place”!

These resources will help you evaluate potential planting sites to ensure that tree and planting location fit well together: