Beware of Treacherous Trees and Shrubs

Thinking about planting some trees or shrubs this fall? Good for you — autumn is the perfect time to do it. Just be aware that trees and shrubs attract their share of problems that need to be addressed. They can also cause big and potentially fatal damage for two reasons:

Improper placement. Every year, during major storms, trees that are too big for their britches (sites) crash through the roofs of homes, sometimes with deadly results. On a less lethal but still
destructive note, an oversize tree or shrub can cause considerable damage to your bank account by sending its roots through your driveway, dropping its leaves into your gutters, casting too much shade on your lawn and garden beds, and who knows what else. At the very least, a tree or shrub that’s too big for its site will require constant pruning to keep it in bounds.
THE TAKEAWAY: Always buy a woody plant that will be the height and width you want when it reaches maturity, not when you see it in a pot.

Dangerous offerings. Many beautiful trees and shrubs produce slippery fruits that can stick to the soles of your shoes. Other types manufacture nuts that act as marbles under your feet. In either case, they could send you (or a visitor) crashing down — possibly with tragic results.
YOUR MISSION: Always site these “gift-giving” plants well away from places where people walk, play, or relax, including decks, patios, driveways, walkways, and stairs.

Here’s another thing to think about before purchasing a woody plant: When trees and shrubs have problems, they’re usually big ones that can be stressful and expensive to deal with. The key to stopping them before they start is to “go native.” Trees and shrubs that are native to your region are much less susceptible to pests and diseases than any plant that’s been brought in from somewhere else — even if the newcomer is a variety that can perform in your growing conditions. Don’t worry — it won’t take you much time to find top performers. Just look for a good nursery that specializes in trees and shrubs that grow naturally in the area.