SavATree - Tree Shrub and Lawn Care

Collecting Uncommon Specimen Trees

Uncommon specimen trees exhibit all of the characteristics of a great collectible. They are truly rare, uniquely beautiful and have genuine emotional appeal. A tree collection can increase the value of your property, compliment the design of your landscape and create energy savings…but how do you collect trees?

Determining Purpose


First, decide what purpose your new tree will serve. Are you looking to gain an impressive landscape feature, mark a special occasion, preserve an existing tree, or simply enjoy the many practical benefits trees produce? Trees provide creative landscaping opportunities by offering a variety of shapes (round, pyramidal, fan, columnar), forms (broad, vertical, weeping, twisted), bark texture, leaf color, fruit, and flowers. Uncommon tree plantings are an extension of both the designer and homeowner that supply aesthetic beauty and accent landscapes with their unusual characteristics. Well-placed specimens have the ability to hide sub standard architecture or enhance good design.

The majesty of trees also makes them an excellent choice for a living monument or symbolic memorial of a special event. For example, you may want a special tree to mark a wedding ceremony, the birth of a child, or the passing of a loved one. Deciduous trees depict a perfect lifecycle every year. They display the energy and brilliance of youth in spring and summer, celebrate the golden years during autumn and play dead all winter as they prepare for a new cycle. Evergreen trees represent spirituality and endurance, while flowering trees capture the essence of life’s most beautiful events. Perhaps you or your neighbors must take down a tree to facilitate construction? This is an excellent opportunity to add healthy, mature specimens to your collection. Arrange a meeting with a certified professional during the design and planning stages of the project in order to protect remaining trees from construction damage and find new homes for marked trees. Small trees of most species can be easily moved while transplanting mature specimen trees requires special equipment and may cost a bundle.


Trees offer practical benefits too. Planting a large tree in just the right place can increase your home’s energy factor and help you save 10% to 20% on your energy bills. It can insulate your home by protecting it from the elements and also create a buffer against noise. Properly situated trees can screen unattractive views or frame the ones that inspire you. You can also use your collection to create a sense of security and privacy. Moreover, trees improve air quality by emitting pleasant fragrances and recycling carbon dioxide.

Evaluating The Landscape

Once your tree has a purpose, it is time to evaluate your landscape conditions and choose a location. A beautiful, uncommon tree in the wrong place can be a costly mistake, so gather basic information:

1. Examining the overall landscape design.

2. Ask yourself what the existing trees look like during each season.

3. Choose a size, shape and form that will compliment current features.

4. Determine the hardiness zone for your location.

5. Investigate insects and diseases that are prevalent in your area.

6. Identify the soil conditions throughout your property (moist, dry, acidic, etc.).

The trees you select should prefer, and at the very least tolerate, the normal amount of moisture, sunlight or shade, salt, and soil compaction at your chosen location. You may want to consult with your arborist for ideas.

uncommon3Selecting The Perfect TreeOnce you’ve gathered all the pertinent information, you are ready to select an appropriate tree. Decide if you are looking to start a collection from scratch (i.e. seeds or seedlings), establish a small to medium size tree or transplant a very large, mature specimen, sometimes referred to as a “trophy tree.” The secret to selecting the perfect tree is to choose a species whose features and preferences exactly match your purpose and landscape conditions. You may also want to ask some additional questions. Are there special insect and disease conditions associated with this tree? Does it attract wildlife? Will fruit cause an unsightly mess on my walkways (i.e. female Gingko biloba)?

A unique option for starting a seed or seedling collection is buying a historic tree. American Forests’ Famous & Historic Trees program gives you the opportunity to obtain the direct offspring of original “parent” trees that are a living connections to historic people and events. These seedlings are from famous trees like The Abraham Lincoln Overcup Oak that grows near the log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, the boyhood home of our nation’s 16th president. To learn more about the Famous & Historic Trees program.

If you need more immediate results, small to mid-size trees should appeal to you. Specialty nurseries carry, or have the ability to order, uncommon specimen trees. You may also want to obtain a copy of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Handbook No. 63 “1200 Trees and Shrubs-Where To Buy Them,” a resource for locating uncommon species. The guide may be ordered from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225. Always reference trees by their botanical names (Latin) because common names are not always accurate.

If there is no substitute for the look of maturity in your mind, you will need a large specimen tree. Acquiring such uncommon trees for your collection requires special equipment, but the reward of having a fully grown, mature, specimen more than makes up for the time and expense. Sometimes a fully mature tree is needed to achieve the balance you are looking for in your landscape.

Maintaining Your Collection

Becoming a tree collector means making a commitment to monitoring and maintaining their health. In order to minimize the effects of transplant shock, promote safety, reduce the risk of insect infestation and disease contraction, and allow your tree to live a healthy, vigorous life you will need to do the following:

  • Regular Monitoring allows you to proactively address insect & disease conditions.
  • Watering assists trees in acclimating to new conditions and surviving droughts.
  • Tree fertilizer increases your tree’s capacity to absorb nutrients and promotes health and vigor.
  • Pruning promotes health, safety and aesthetics.
  • Mulching helps the root system retain the moisture and reduces competition from other vegetation.

Remember, collecting trees is a beautiful and rewarding experience that will benefit you and your family for generations. The secret to establishing an impressive collection is careful planning, patience, and a commitment to regular maintenance.

Click or call today to arrange a complimentary consultation from our fully trained and certified arborists for tree care, tree fertilizer and lawn care services from SavATree. Contact the office nearest you.

SavATree provides uncommon specimen tree service in:

Connecticut – Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland, Windham; Illinois – Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry County, Will; Massachusetts – Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Rockingham, Suffolk, Worcester; Maryland – Montgomery, Prince George’s; New Hampshire – Rockingham; New Jersey – Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union; New York – Bronx, Brooklyn, Columbia, Dutchess, Manhattan, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster, Westchester; Pennsylvania – Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Hampshire, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, York; Virginia – Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William; Washington, D.C.
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