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Have you ever noticed a landscape littered with specimen trees? Bad designs occur not just in affluent NJ towns like Franklin Lakes or Alpine but around the country.



Have you ever driven past a property and noticed the landscape was littered with specimen trees? It happens often, particularly in affluent areas, but not just in NJ towns such as Alpine, Franklin Lakes and Saddle River but around the country. It looks as if someone had a clearance sale on specimens; there is no coherence to the design. Unfortunately, these homeowners often drastically overpaid for their landscape. Let me offer a few tips and techniques to properly incorporate specimen trees in your landscape design.


Before you begin any kind of landscape or pool renovation, take an inventory of what you already have on your property. You may have specimen trees overgrowing a particular area and these might be great candidates for a transplant into your new design. Or, you may have specimens that are lost in an isolated part of the property that have been overwhelmed by other plantings and trees. These too are great candidates for relocation.


Try not to make the same mistake twice when planting or transplanting. Someone made a mistake and picked the wrong variety of specimens if materials were overtaking the house or some portion of your landscape.  Sometimes designers do not plan properly and fail to take into account the mature size of the trees which causes problems down the road. A little research (or an experienced landscape architecture firm) will help you avoid any recurring problems. Google can help you do a bit of your own research. The Internet makes it so easy to find and review tree specifications such as mature size and sun exposure requirements. Remember to do your own due diligence when picking out new specimen trees.


Some basic planning will be very valuable for your landscape design. Set a budget for specimen trees as you begin to explore your landscaping ideas. We generally estimate 10-30% of a new planting budget can be allocated towards specimens on an estate. Pick the focal points of the property you wish to accentuate once you have your budget, so you can hit your key areas right away. Next, you can choose your favorite specimen trees that fit those areas. Remember to size the specimen trees accordingly to stay within your budget while considering the other factors you have learned about the trees, such as mature size and sun exposure requirements


Handling and installing specimen trees and mature material is very delicate, specialized work.  So as a final word of advice,  you should look for companies that have a great deal of experience handling  these expensive materials. Inexperienced landscaping companies can cause severe damage when installing mature trees, damage that is not readily apparent. Unfortunately the damage is more likely to first present itself after the warranty expires and the tree is already dying. We have a 10-acre tree farm in Mahwah NJ where we grow and transplant our own material and have many years experience handling mature, specimen trees. If you have any more questions about specimen trees, we would be happy to help you in any way.

Email us or call the office, 201-785-0800