Trees are the most permanent and visible plants in the landscape. Properly selected, placed and planted, they add more livability and value than any other landscape feature.

They provide great beauty but also provide shade and solve landscape problems. They frame and provide backgrounds for other plants. Trees help absorb noise, remove pollutants, create windbreaks, provide privacy and protect, shade and shelter landscapes.Landscapes are not all the same. Therefore, the same kinds of trees cannot be used successfully in different areas. Get the most from your trees by following these guidelines.

1. Determine where trees will offer the greatest benefit.

2. Select trees that fit their locations.

3. Plant trees correctly.

4. Give them good care and maintenance.

After establishing the need for a tree at a given location, decide what tree best satisfies the needs of your landscape. Several characteristics of trees must be considered.


Landscape trees are usually classified as small, medium or large. Size categories may overlap depending on culture and climatic conditions.

Small trees: less than 25 feet at maturity.

Medium trees: those that mature at about 40 feet.

Large trees: mature heights greater than 40 feet.

In the landscape, large trees are in scale with tall houses but will make low houses seem smaller. Small and medium trees fit well with low houses but will make a tall house appear even taller.

Tree functions

Shade: Landscape trees are most frequently planted as shade trees. The most important location for these trees is near the southwest corner of the house to provide shade during the late afternoon in the summer. Pay attention to the position of the sun and the shade patterns the trees cast. As the sun moves over your house, note how patterns change during different times of the year.

Determine from sketches and observation where trees give maximum summer shade. Check the shade movement to decide if your plans are right. If time permits, observe the shade pattern over several seasons. Remember that shade from the house follows the same pattern as the shade of the trees. Patios and other areas often receive shade from the house and do not always need trees to shade them.

Make a landscape diagram of your house and sketch in trees and their shade patterns to determine the best locations. Trees provide better cooling than artificial structures. Air passing through the branches is cooled by transpiration from the leaves.

The amount of shade depends on the size of the tree, the distance from the house, the time of day and the season. A tree 40 feet high with a 25-foot spread casts a shadow equal to the tree height at 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in midsummer. However, in winter, the shadow at the same time of day will be almost 100 feet long.

The most useful shade on the house comes from trees placed 15 to 20 feet from the house. Small trees may be planted closer, but always plant large trees 20 feet or more away from the house. Medium or small trees are more in scale with lower homes. Where large trees are not appropriate, group several small trees together to furnish needed shade.

If the home is situated so that trees must be planted in the front for maximum shade, select high branching trees so the outdoor views can be seen below the branches. Use deciduous trees in our area so that a maximum amount of sunlight can reach the house in winter.

Framing: Shade trees serve many other functions. They frame the home to make the landscape look like part of the site. Select trees that are proportional to the house. Large homes framed with small trees appear even larger. Low homes framed with tall, spreading trees appear smaller. Select trees that match the lot and the home. If space is a problem, plant columnar trees.

Location: Plant trees for framing on a diagonal line away from the front corners of the house.

This gives an appearance of more depth to the landscape than when trees are planted directly to the sides. They enhance this effect when you do not plant the trees directly opposite one another and different kinds of trees are used.

Planting trees at the exact spot for best framing is not always practical. If you cannot plant trees in the ideal locations, select those trees that can be developed with high branch patterns. Never plant trees that divide views into two equal parts or that bisects or block the view of the house from the street. Remember that these guidelines are based on the mature size of the trees.


Develop background plantings so that the tops of the trees can be seen above the roof line when the house is viewed from the front. This softens the roof line and makes the house easier to see. Well-placed trees provide background as they appear above the roof line and frame the house on either side.

Avoid using the same kinds of trees throughout the background planting. Ideally use one tree that grows taller than the others. An asymmetrical tree growing above the roof line is most desirable. When space limitations permit planting only one or two trees, select those with tall trunks so that desirable views will not be obscured.

When the back of the home faces west or southwest, the trees may be needed for shade. In these situations, the trees may need to be planted fairly close to the house. Trees may be needed to block undesirable views and would then be planted near the property line.


Plant trees that have attractive flowers, berries, leaves or bark as accents or focal points. Accent trees are usually small, although any size tree can provide some landscape accent. Small trees may be grouped together for a more striking effect. Too many accent trees will create confusion in the landscape.

Use these trees to enhance the focal points in the landscapes such as benches or other points in the backyard gardens. In shrub borders of the backyard, accent trees will provide a focal point for different areas. Accent trees are best planted so they can be seen from inside the house.


Unsightly views need to be blocked. Trees provide needed privacy and help create sound barriers and windbreaks. Use evergreens for year-round screens. Groupings of trees will provide needed screening without a rigid, formal appearance.

If space is limited, use columnar trees to make an effective screen with a minimum of width. Tree screens give more interest and variety than fences or other artificial screens.

Other considerations

Do not plant trees that will interfere with underground pipelines, septic tanks, pavement or overhead wires.

Do not plant trees in front of the front door or where they obstruct a desirable view from inside the house.

Do not plant large trees closer than 5 feet to pavement because they will eventually push up the concrete.

Do not plant trees closer together than half their total spread at maturity.

Do not plant trees on corners where they will interfere with motorists' vision at intersections.

Do not plant dense shade trees where you want to grow grass.



New and underused trees and shrubs for Utah

TREES- deciduous Common name

1. Acer griseum Paperbark Maple

2. Acer tataricum Tartarian Maple

3. Acer truncatum Shantung Maple

Others to consider:

Acer buergerianum Trident Maple

Acer capillipes Snake-bark Maple

Acer cappadocicum

4. Celtis reticulata Netveined Hackberry (native)

Others to consider:

Celtis laevigata Sugarberry

5. Corylus colurna Turkish Filbert

6. Chionanthus virginicus White Fringetree

7. Eucommia ulmoides Hardy Rubber Tree

8. Phellodendron amurense Amur Corktree

9. Quercus castanaeifolia Chestnut-Leaved Oak

10. Quercus shumardii Shumard Oak

11. Quercus imbricaria Shingle Oak

12. Sorbus alnifolia Korean Mountain Ash

13. Tilia mongolica Mongolian Linden

14. Tilia tomentosa Silver Linden

15. Ulmus parvifolia Lacebark Elm

16. Zelkova chinensis Chinese Zelkova

TREES - evergreen

17. Pinus bungeana Lacebark Pine

18. Pinus flexilis Limber Pine (native)

19. Pinus monophylla Single-needle Pinyon (native)

SHRUBS - evergreen

20. Daphne cneorum `Ruby Glow' Ruby Glow Garland Daphne

21. Genista lydia Lydia Broom

22. Genista pilosa `Vancouver Gold' Vancouver Gold Silkyleaf


23. Viburnum trilobum `Compactum' Compact American

Cranberrybush Viburnum

SOURCE: Red Butte Garden & Arboretum