Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place

Jan 20, 2021 | Growing Tips, Information

Photo: UC-ANR – Desert Willow

You might have seen the recent Albuquerque Journal article PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE.

It provided a summary of the results of a yearlong project by the Nature Conservancy of New Mexico that evaluated 136 species of trees to provide a list of trees that will thrive in our environment.

Sarah Hurteau, urban conservation director of the Nature Conservancy of New Mexico (NCNM), provided the key reason such a survey is so important for our gardens and the tree-scape of the entire metro area.

“We’re really going to see a significant shift in our climate over the life span that the trees we plant now will experience. We might not see all these changes, but the trees will.”

 As master gardeners and homeowners we understand the value of shade trees:

  • Filtering up to 30% of fine particulate pollutants within 300 yards of a tree
  • Cooling urban landscapes by 2 – 4 degrees; reducing deaths from heat and cutting energy use
  • Protecting biodiversity; including habitat for migrating birds and pollinators
  • Managing storm-water; keeping pollutants out of waterways and reducing urban flooding
  • Increasing neighborhood property values

Sadly, the metro area is losing 30% of our shade due to aging, dying trees. Pavement retains heat making the city 5-8 degrees hotter than the surrounding natural areas. The need for more trees to replace those lost and to offset rising temperatures increases the need for a list of trees that can handle our environment, long term.

The Climate Trees for Albuquerque, is broken out by seven location types. Each type is explained with location characteristics as well as tree characteristics and the specific tree species recommended for that location.

NCNM guideline for selecting and planting trees is simple:  Right Tree, Right Place.  If this is the year to replace or add a tree to your property, start with your selection process with The Climate Trees for Albuquerque. Although this report was created for ABQ’s climate, per NCNM, it is directly transferable to communities with similar climates. Consider temperature and elevation when selecting a tree for yards in other communities throughout the state.

 “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
~ Chinese proverb