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What to look for when choosing trees and shrubs

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Cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

The right plant in the right place

First of all, make sure that whatever tree or shrub you choose suits your site. Answering the following questions should help guide you. There are also many books available and experts to answer any questions you might have.

  • What do you want the tree or shrub to do? (provide shade, privacy or protection from noise, erosion or wind, serve as an ornamental, provide shelter and food for birds, etc.)
  • What size and shape will it be when fully grown? 
  • Will it be able to survive winter weather, ice storms and heavy winds? 
  • Will it be vulnerable to insect pests, diseases or pollution? 
  • How much water, sun and maintenance will it need? 
  • Do you have suitable soil for it? (texture, structure, pH, nutrients, drainage)
  • Will its roots have enough space to grow properly?
  • Will any pesticides be used nearby?
  • What else is there nearby? (hydro wires, house, road, neighbour’s property, established plants, etc.)
  • What are the local by-laws?

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