Site Conditions
Like Goldilocks in the familiar tale, all trees would prefer growing in a place that’s “just right.” For trees, that means the right soil texture (the mixture of sand, silt, and clay particles), moderate drainage, sufficient water, good soil chemistry (pH and nutrients), and just the right amount of sunlight. But the place you want to plant a tree may not be perfect, so choose a species that is adapted to the conditions it will be growing in for the rest of its life.


Soil Drainage Test
Soil drainage describes how quickly water moves through the soil and away from tree roots. Drainage that is too rapid or too slow can be bad for many species. Sites with poor drainage can suffocate many tree species by cutting off oxygen to the roots. Sandy soil is often associated with good drainage (sometimes even excessive or droughty soils) and heavy clay soils with poorly drained sites. Determine your planting site’s drainage by digging a hole 16-inches deep and filling it with water. If the hole drains within one hour, drainage is ‘rapid’; if the hole drains in a few hours, the drainage is ‘good’; if water stands for a day or more, drainage is ‘slow’.


Extremely Dry or Droughty Sites
Check this box if your site has rapid drainage (conduct drainage test above) and any of the following conditions:

  • no regular watering capability
  • restricted rooting space or is an elevated planting bed
  • a very sunny spot or at the top of a hill or slope
  • in an area of the state with regular dry spells longer than 60 days

Poorly Drained or Wet Sites
Check this box if your planting site has slow drainage (conduct drainage test above) or any of the following conditions:

  • a low area that holds water after a rain
  • soil is very hard to dig (compacted) or is mostly heavy clay
  • an area that is over watered by an irrigation system

Shady All or Most of the Day
Green leaves need adequate sunlight to manufacture food to keep the tree alive and growing. Check this box if your planting site:

  • receives three hours or less of direct sunlight during the summer months—including shade from by nearby buildings

Salty Soil or Wind-Blown Salt Water
Check this box if your site is:

  • within one-eighth of a mile of the coast
  • in an area of the state receiving 30 inches of rain or less each year
  • in an area with irrigation or well water that is high in sodium

Highly Alkaline Soils
Soil pH governs the availability of nutrients and minerals to tree roots. Values above 7.0 are considered “alkaline” and most trees prefer to grow in soil with a pH range between 4.8 and 7.2. Have your soil pH tested by contacting your county Extension office and check this box if:

  • the results show a reading of 7.5 or higher
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Link to the Texas A&M Forest Service website.