Arborist InsightsLandscaping

Magnolia trees need space

By December 10, 2021 No Comments

Round 1

As a professional landscaper and ISA certified arborist, I provide the best possible advice for our clients. So, when a client is asking me to plant a tree near his gate, I have to object to his plan. Gently.

Take a look. What’s the problem here?

Freshly planted Magnolia.

First of all, the planting spot has marginal soil; and you can see immediate access issues for the owners and for landscapers walking in to do lawn care maintenance: the branches are already sticking out.

But by far the worst sin-one I see repeated all the time- is the owner’s refusal to consider the Magnolia’s mature size. All he needs to do is look around; there are several mature Magnolias around his unit.

Since the owner paid for the tree and my labor, it had to be done his way, over my objections. So I did the work and let it go. But I didn’t think I’d be back months later.

Round 2

It turns out, somebody in the complex convinced the owner to move the tree to a more suitable spot. Well done.

Luckily, we found space just over the fence where he would still be able to see the Magnolia. Now we just had to dig up the tree and move it, which wasn’t easy considering the root ball size.

Much better!

Now I can sleep at night. This Magnolia should be happier in this corner because it has more room and it won’t be in the way. Once the nearby dead western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) gets removed, there will also be more available light.

I’m pretty confident the owner will be able to see the flowers from his unit. If the tree somehow fails to thrive, I will find a helper to blame.


Always consider your new tree’s mature size before planting. Don’t get distracted by its beauty. Otherwise, you will have to re-plant it later like I did with this Magnolia.

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