Matching Tree and Site, Part 1 – Adaptability and Acclimation

When you’re matching tree and site, you have to worry about some things. Next week, we’ll give you actual site considerations and logistics. This week, we’re going to talk about adaptability and acclimation. What are adaptability and acclimation?

Adaptability is the genetic ability of plants and other living organisms to adjust or accommodate to different environments while acclimation is the process by which plants and other living organisms adapt physiologically to a climate or environment different than their own. They work in conjunction with each other. One is genetic and one is physiological, but they do both deal with how a tree adjusts to a different environment.

The first thing you need to do when bringing new trees into your landscape is to consider your expectations. What purpose will your trees serve in your landscape? Are they there for privacy or beauty? How much maintenance are you willing to do? You should also decide what you don’t want from your trees. There are some things about trees you’ll want to consider when matching tree and site.


How fast does it grow? Very vigorous trees quickly fill their allotted space and provide shade and privacy in just a few years. They tend to require frequent pruning; however, and may have brittle limbs and short life spans. Trees that grow slowly usually live longer and require less pruning.


How tall and wide will the tree get? Consider this aspect carefully if you have limited space or dislike pruning. Plant a tree in an area that can accommodate its height and width. This seems simple, but many people don’t consider this as carefully as they should and they wind up with trees that are too big for the areas they set is aside for. You can always ask us before you plant a tree. We’re happy to help.


Is the tree adapted to your climate? It’s always best to get trees that are adapted to the climate as well as the sun, soil, and water conditions at the proposed planting site. You can have trees acclimatize and adapt to the area, but it’s much easier if the tree is already predisposed to the conditions of the area you are going to place it in. It will do much better.

Now, trees are amazing organisms. Make sure you get ones that are well-suited to your site. That will give the tree the best chance to survive and be a part of your landscape for a long time. While it’s true that many trees can adapt to a different climate, it’s not ideal. We try to suggest native trees whenever possible. They’re really your best bet. For more information, feel free to ask questions on our Facebook page. We’ll be happy to have someone answer them for you.