Q • I want to plant a new tree in front of my house, but I don’t want to find out I selected the wrong tree 10 years from now. What should I avoid planting so I don’t run into problems down the road?
A • Picking the perfect tree can be a daunting task, and ultimately the “best tree” will depend on your specific growing conditions, but here are some guidelines for trees you should avoid planting.
Fast-growing trees such as mulberries, silver maples and sycamores are tempting to plant because they can quickly fill in a space, but planting one comes at a cost. Speedy growers have weak limbs that break easily and require a lot of pruning, as well as aggressive roots that damage structures. Next, avoid plants ill-suited to your specific soil and environmental conditions, such as moisture and pH. Some trees, like pin oaks and birches, require specific pH ranges and will never live a full and healthy life when planted in soil not suited to their growing requirements. Getting a basic soil test through your local county extension office can help you determine your soil conditions.
Finally, make sure the tree you choose isn’t invasive in the Midwest. Callery pears and mimosa trees have been selected for their beauty, but are prolific seed producers that have been devastating to countless acres of land across Missouri. If you need more ideas on tree selection for your site, check out Missouri Department of Conservation’s “Missouri Urban Trees” publication at mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/