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Every plant has a USDA Hardiness Zone designation, which measures the lowest winter temperature a plant can survive. Tags on every tree at your local nursery will provide this information along with other important details about the individual tree cultivar and its care requirements.
The Hardiness Zone is a great indicator to help you determine if your tree is appropriate for Weston’s average climate. However, other factors such as wind exposure, high temperature and temperature swings, soil conditions, exposure to road salt and sun all contribute to the overall health and longevity of a tree.
Weston currently is Hardiness Zone 6b, but borders the colder Zone 6a. For the best chance of survival for your new tree, choose a tree that thrives in a broad range of zones.
DO: Plant Trees that can thrive in a wide range of Hardiness Zones, including Zone 6.
A good example of this is a small understory tree called the flowering dogwood. It can thrive in zones 5-9, from Maine to Florida. This tree can manage even when Weston experiences a cold snap or heat waves. It will also have a better chance of surviving projected Hardiness Zone Migration
DON’T: Plant a new tree that depends on a narrow temperature band to survive.
An example of a tree with a narrow band is the Douglas Fir tree, which thrives in zones 4-6. Weston’s temperature is the warmest that it can tolerate. Although our neighborhoods boast many beautiful mature specimens, as higher temperatures become more typical in our area, this tree is unlikely to adapt to the changing conditions and will likely require extensive care to survive.
Weston’s USDA Hardiness Zone is projected shift from Zone 6 to Zone 7 by 2040. This means that Weston’s average lowest temperature will rise to a low temperature average similar to Delaware, Virginia and Tennessee in the next twenty years. Any tree planted today will grow to maturity during this period of rapid temperature shifts and extremes, including heat waves and polar vortexes, and should be factored into your tree selection process.
There are two main categories of trees: evergreen and deciduous.
Evergreen trees keep their leaves and deliver visual interest all year long. They also can shelter your home from frosty winter winds while providing a natural privacy screen to your yard.
Deciduous trees shed their leaves every year. Even without their leaves, they can provide 4-season interest with their branch structure and bark patterns. Whether you want flowers, fruits, nuts or glowing fall foliage, there is a native, deciduous tree for you to choose from.
Weston’s most common species are:
Look at any plant information tag and you will find icons telling you how much sun is required for the tree to thrive. Usually, the icons designate “Full Sun”. “Part Sun” “Part Shade” or “Shade”—but what does that really mean? Here are some general rules of thumb to help you understand the icons.
Full sun means 6 or more hours of direct sun. Usually this describes a south or southwesterly site with little to no shade at any time of the day from either trees or a structure.
Part sun means four to six hours of direct sun per day. Not all those hours need to be accrued consecutively—it could mean a few hours of morning sun plus a few more in the afternoon. When a plant prefers part sun, although it does not need to be in direct sun all day, it will grow and bloom best with at least some of those hours being in the afternoon. These plants need some heat and intense mid-day sun exposure in order to produce flowers and new growth.
Part shade also means four to six hours of direct sun per day but most of that sunlight should come in the morning hours, when the sun’s intensity is lower. Plants with a “part-shade” designation can struggle or get leaf-scorched in hot midday sun.
Full shade means less than four hours of direct sun per day, typically in the early morning sunlight. It can also mean dappled light below a large open canopy tree. Very few trees thrive in dense, day-long shade.
Not all trees thrive in the same type soil. Some trees prefer sandy, rocky soil. Other trees need moist, nutrient rich soil. Many of the native woodland trees of Weston prefer slightly acidic soil though some can tolerate a wider range of pH. If your home is newly constructed, you may largely have construction “fill” in your yard with only a few inches of nutrient rich topsoil.
To understand what your soil conditions are, including pH and nutrient levels, a soil test is your best bet. A good landscaper can get the test done for you, or you can easily arrange for soil analysis yourself.
The soil and plant nutrient laboratory at the University of Massachusetts can conduct soil analysis on samples from your yard that you send to them.