Once you have determined your planting location (check out the Where to Put Down Roots blog for a refresher), the next step is finding the perfect tree for that location. Explore some of our favorite resources below, and learn about some of the most commonly planted trees in Davidson County.
Helpful resources for species selection
- Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Finder: Users can input information like hardiness zone, soil type, and sun levels in order to narrow down the species best suited to the site.
- USDA PLANTS Advanced Search: This resources provides a similar species selection process to the Arbor Day Foundation tool, but also provides a higher level of control over specific variables related to site characteristics and tree features.
- Trees for Middle Tennessee: Compiled by local ISA-certified arborist Dwight Barnett, this list provides highly local information about how certain species fare in our area.
- Metro Tree Advisory Committee’s list of recommended (and prohibited!) species: Nashville’s official tree committee keeps this up-to-date list of species.
Some of Nashville’s favorite species
These are the 10 most commonly planted trees, according to the citywide TreePlotter software, which tracks all of the newly planted trees in Davidson County. These include trees that have been planted directly through the Root Nashville campaign, trees that developers and landscape architects have planted, trees planted by individuals, and others from partner nonprofits.
Although the shapes, sizes, and planting locations may vary among these trees, their common trait is being tolerant of urban conditions. This means that these trees are able to withstand the difficult conditions of the urban environment: compacted soil, elevated pollution levels, limited stormwater infiltration, and more reflected heat coming from roads and buildings.
Below, we highlight a few of these common urban-tolerant trees. These species are generally recommended and often fare very well in Middle Tennessee:
The redbud is a native understory tree, so it reaches a maximum height of about 25 feet. You can recognize a redbud by its heart-shaped leaves, and in early springtime, it blooms with lovely purplish flowers.
Tennessee’s state tree! The tulip poplar can grow to be gigantic, and they typically grow very straight. This tree also has a distinctive leaf shape and flowers.
Most oaks are strong, sturdy, and dependable in a variety of settings, and the willow oak is no exception. The willow oak grows quickly and is often planted as a shade tree, because it can grow to be quite large.
The importance of species diversity
But just because a tree is very popular and frequently planted doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always recommended! Species diversity is incredibly important, and is also a key goal of the Root Nashville campaign. Why bother with diversity? Plant with the future in mind. The species listed above are not typically susceptible to diseases or specific pests, but that is not a trend that can always be relied on. It can be hard to predict new outbreaks or resurgences of tree pests. Planting a diverse range of species helps protect us from future outbreaks. Click here to read more about the dangers of monoculture.
Choosing the right tree for the right place is vital, especially in an urban setting. And once your tree is planted, don’t forget to add it to TreePlotter so that it counts towards our citywide planting goal. Look for another blog post soon that will walk you through this process.