Tree Selection & Planting

Tree Planting

See our ReLeaf Tree Planting presentation for helpful instructions and diagrams on how to select a location and how to plant your new tree.

ReLeaf Tree Planting Presentation 2017

Tree Selection

Before you plant trees and shrubs, make sure you are getting the right ones for your yard. Learn about some of the details you need to know about the plants and your garden to make sure they are a good match.

Hardiness Zones

Your first concern should be the climate you live in. The USDA has devised a map that breaks the country into eleven zones based on the average coolest temperature. Each tree and shrub will have a range of zones that it will flourish in. By picking ones that are suited for your area, you can avoid freezing a tender plant or burning one that prefers cool temperatures.

Plant hardiness zones attempt to match a plant’s survival with a set of environmental conditions. These conditions include minimum winter temperature, frost free period, snow cover, and wind speed. zone ratings are only a guide for plant selection. Plant survival is also impacted by bodies of water, wind protection, snow cover and urban heat islands. For this reason there will be always be trees and shrubs that defy the odds and thrive under conditions very different from their zone rating. Around the Winnipeg region, our USDA hardiness zones are 3a or 3b.

Source: Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (


Consider Soil Type & Growing Conditions

The soil texture is important. There are three types – sand, silt, and clay. Water-loving trees and shrubs may have trouble in sand, since water is not retained well. On the other hand, heavy clay can kill trees or shrubs that require excellent drainage. Choose plants that thrive in your type.

Other factors that may affect your choices for trees and shrubs include:

  • How much light will they get?
  • Is your land flat or hilly?
  • Are there harsh winds?
  • Does the area tend to stay dry, moist, or wet?
  • Is the air and/or soil salty?



Calculate How Much Space You Have

You must consider the space you have available. Be sure to find out the expected size of the trees or shrubs at maturity, and what shape the tree or shrub will take – some may be tall and narrow, while others are short and wide.

Trees with large, spreading canopies should ideally be far enough from your house or other structures so as not to impede the tree canopy at maturity. Of course, in small urban yards, this is not always possible- use your best judgement when planting trees near structures or other trees. Trees and shrubs that are close to structures or other trees may require more pruning and maintenance down the road.

Keep Your Design in Mind

What color blossoms or leaves would you like? What size leaf would you like? There are deciduous trees and shrubs that lose their leaves each fall, but can provide some stunning autumn colors. There are also evergreens which do not lose their leaves and will provide year-round color and privacy.

Do you want to attract butterflies, birds, bees, and other wildlife? Are you looking for fruit, shade, a focal point, or something else? These are all some of the concerns when thinking about the aesthetics of a tree or shrub.

Tree Characteristics

Like people, trees and shrubs have various characteristics that make them unique and interesting. Some traits you may not mind, while other traits might become an annoyance down the road. While all trees experience pest problems from time to time, some invasive pests and diseases can severely harm certain trees. Be sure to ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to rake leaves or pick up fallen fruit?
  • Do the branches break easily?
  • Does it need a lot of pruning?
  • Does it produce a lot of suckers or seeds?
  • Will it require pollination/do you need a second tree for pollination?
  • Will it provide shade or fruit as soon as you would like?
  • Is the tree slow-growing and long-living or fast-growing with a shorter life-span?
  • Does it have thorns or poisonous parts?
  • Is it susceptible to any invasive insects/diseases that are difficult to manage?

Pick a Healthy Specimen

Choosing a healthy plant starts with shopping at reputable nurseries and garden centers. Look for vibrant plants and knowledgeable staff.

Pick trees with evenly spaced branches and a strong, straight trunk. There should only be one central leader for most trees. Shrubs should have a symmetrical form with no gaping spaces. There should be no broken branches which can lead to diseases and insect damage.

Foliage should not be wilting or damaged and the leaf color should be season-appropriate. The roots should not be pot-bound (circling the pot) if in containers – be weary of trees that look too tall for the container they’re growing in.