Picking the Right Spot to Plant a Tree in Your Yard

By Nancy Penrose

Trees add beauty and value to yards, streets, and communities. However, deciding where to plant a tree is an important decision. Choosing the right spot will add to the value of the home, whereas choosing the wrong spot can become a nuisance or liability.

Tree placement

Before you plant, it’s important to know the tree’s height at maturity, as well as its crown spread and root space. Trees often require more space than you think. When in doubt, ask a local tree supplier or local nursery how much space (vertical and horizontal) is needed to keep your tree healthy and your structures safe.

Space for the tree to grow to its expected height and width both above and underground has to be taken into consideration. Some types of trees can develop very quickly. Poor placement can bring growing roots or branches too close to systems (water, sewage lines, sprinkler systems), driveways or sidewalks.

A tree’s root spread is often much larger than its canopy spread, so always allow for plenty of clearance. Before planting, it’s important to be aware of overhead power lines and underground utility lines.

Contact your local power, water, and gas companies before you select a spot for your tree. There are almost certainly cables, wires, and pipes buried in your yard, and you can risk serious injury or costly repairs if you cut into one of these while digging. Each utility should be willing to come out for free and mark off where its equipment and lines are located.

Many troubles can come by not deciding on the right tree location for planting are:

  • Damage to houses through cracked foundations, leaves in gutters, or abrasion of tree limbs hitting the residence
  • Cracked pavement of sidewalks, driveways, porches, and patios
  • Sewer drains or septic tanks clogged or broken by way of roots
  • Blocking scenic views or windows.
  • Blocking street signs from view of cars

Think seasonally

What’s going on in your yard in the spring can be drastically different than in the fall or winter. Thinking seasonally will help you plant your tree with its best interests in mind throughout the entire year.

Fruit or Sap

Will the tree drop messy fruit or sap on sidewalks or driveways? A fruit tree near the sidewalk will require a lot of regular, messy cleanup. Planting a pine tree near the driveway can mean your car will be covered in sap certain times of the year, which can be difficult to get off.


Some trees need and are more tolerant of light than others. Some trees need lots of direct sunlight whereas others need more shade.

Lower Utility Costs

Consider planting trees to lower utility costs. If your yard is big enough, plant three large trees, one each on the west, east, and north sides of your house. These locations can help shade your house in the summer and block wind in the winter. These benefits can result in as much as a 50% reduction in energy costs.


Plant your tree where it will provide shade for any outdoor equipment or activities, such as playground sets, grills, outdoor eating areas, and decks.

Ask the Right Questions

We recommend that you speak to a local tree specialist to help determine what type of tree would work best in your area. Ask things like how much space (vertical and horizontal) will the tree take up at maturity, and how much space is needed to keep your tree healthy and your structures safe, and how much sun and water it will need.

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at https://bigtreesupply.com/blog/ or https://arboristblog.com/. They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296