Step 2: Understand the Planting Site
Before you decide what type of tree to plant, you must know where it will be planted. How much space will your tree have to grow. Consider space above the ground for the canopy, as well as space for root growth. These spaces will determine if a canopy tree, an understory tree, or a palm is compatible with your purpose. For example, a narrow space between a sidewalk and a curb that has a power line above will require an understory tree.
If you live in an urban or suburban area, chances are good that construction has disturbed the original soil. Shallow soil, hardpan, or coral rock may limit your tree selection to understory trees. Compacted soils are poorly drained, while planting sites on a slope or berm drain quickly and may require a more drought-tolerant tree.
Further consideration for sunlight, temperature, and any special situations will help you choose the right tree for the right place. Does you site receive any shade? Most flowering trees prefer full sunshine, but some require partial shade to bloom. Coastal areas stay warmer than inland areas. Tree species selected for Central Florida must be able to tolerate occasional freezing temperatures. Trees along coastal areas may require a higher salt tolerance. Refer to the Right Tree/Right Place Checklist to evaluate your planting site.