Right Tree, Right Place

Events and Volunteer Coordinator
Community Arborist & Educator

By: Kate Bolkin, Community Arborist

A tree is a lifelong investment.  When planted in the right location, trees bring countless environmental, health, and economic benefits to our communities.  But before that can happen, your tree will need a spot where it can thrive depending on its species.  Here are some important things to consider when choosing a type of tree (or any plant) for your landscape.

  1. Hardiness zone: A hardiness zone map displays your region’s average minimum winter temperatures.  It’s up to you to select plants that can handle your area’s climate.  Charlotte is in zone 7b-8a, so make sure you select a tree that can survive within this zone. Thankfully, you can be assured that all of TreesCharlotte’s trees are able to thrive our hardiness zone.
  2. Sunlight:  Observe how much sunlight your potential planting spot gets and chose a tree that will work with that location.  Most trees prefer full sun (6+ hours per day) or partial sun (3-6 hours per day).  But some can tolerate shadier conditions.
  3. Soil and drainage: Like sunlight, different plant species can tolerate different levels of soil moisture and structure. Charlotte’s soil is often heavy in clay, so choose a species accordingly. 
  4. Mature size and shape:  You should know the average height and crown spread of the tree you’re selecting.  Be sure larger trees have space to grow that is away from power lines or nearby structures.  It’s always so sad to see beautiful trees get cut down due to poor planning.  Check out our tree spacing guide.
  5. Functional use:  Besides being a good steward of the earth, think about why you are planting your tree(s)?  Are you looking to create privacy?  Attract butterflies?  Shade your home?  Be sure to select a tree that will have the traits that you are looking for.

If you follow the above steps, you’ll be able to pick the right tree for the right place and enjoy it for years to come!  Need some recommendations?  Here are some of our favorite trees for various needs:

A dogwood is a small-maturing tree that prefers some shade.

Shade-tolerant trees:

  • Flowering dogwood
  • American and European beech
  • Paw paw
  • Japanese maple
  • Serviceberry

Water-tolerant trees:

  • River birch
  • Bald cypress
  • Black tupelo
  • Swamp white oak
  • Water oak

Urban-tolerant trees:  Trees to plant in parking strips, near impervious surface, other harsh locations.

  • Willow oak
  • Red oak
  • Crape myrtle
  • Sycamore
  • Lacebark elm

Best trees for wildlife, pollinators, and our climate:

Trees for privacy: Read more about planting for privacy

  • Magnolia spp.
  • Holly spp.
  • Arborvitae
  • Eastern red cedar
  • Japanese cedar

**Disclaimer, do NOT plant the following trees, as they are invasive to the state of North Carolina:

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