Trees provide shade and beauty for both your lawn and home. A well planted and positioned shade tree will become symbolic of the great times you've had outside your home. On the other hand, a poorly positioned shade tree will seem to become the bane of your home. Most problems with shade trees are when they are planted too close to your home. These problems will not be immediately obvious since shade trees take quite a while to grow.
Shade Tree Site Plan
Shade trees are the marathon of garden planning. It will take about twenty years before your tree is fully grown, sometimes longer. Make certain to know the maximum height and width before you plant. This will also affect what you can grow beneath the tree including types of grass, shrubs, flowers and ornamental trees.
Plan for the branches
A poorly planned tree will have branches that need to be repeated cut back to so they will not damage a home. Also, tree branches that hang over your pool will keep the sun from reaching it and also drop leaves into your pool causing you to spend more time cleaning. Trees branches can also block your view. This seems obvious, but most forget how large a tree will get.
Plan for the trunk
I used to worry about a very old water oak falling on my first home daily. If the tree will grow too tall, don't plant it close enough to your home or car if a strong hurricane were to knock it down.
Plan for the roots
Some trees have large root systems. The roots can damage driveways and foundations. These roots can also have an effect on irrigation and utility lines. Cypress trees produce knees which can damage your lawn mower and walkways. Additionally, some trees are very sensitive to the amount of water they have near their roots. While cypress trees may be able to live in the wettest of soil conditions, maples will normally need well drained soils to thrive.
Shade Tree Soil Test
There are trees which adapt to a wide range of soil acidity. Unfortunately, there are also a lot that do not. Either get a soil testing kit from the hardware store or have a soil test done at a LSU Ag center. If you know your plants well enough, you can tell what type of soil you have based on how the current plants perform. Soil test are not too pricey so I would recommend using one before investing the time and money into shade trees.
Talk with your local nursery to see which plants are best suited to your garden's pH levels. Some trees that are more pH dependent are Live Oaks, Pecan, Bald Cypress, Sycamore, American Beech, Ginkgo, Hickory and Sweet Gum. A few pH adaptable trees are the southern Sugar Maple, White Ash, Green Ash and Crape Myrtles. Before you begin to dig in Louisiana always call 811 for LA One Call to come and test for utilities. Its free and could save you a lot of time, money and maybe your life.