How to Choose Plants for your Garden

Tree Selection​

The most important point to remember is to fit the tree to its environmental conditions rather than change the conditions to suit the tree. This way the tree will be healthier and relatively trouble-free.


A good method of tree selection is to drive around your local streets and look at how other people have utilised their plants. You may see a style of garden which appeals, or a tree providing a particular function, e.g. filtered light, autumnal foliage, or bark colour. You can identify the plant by taking a photo of it and your arborist or local nursery can identify the plant for you.


With your planting site in mind you should then ask yourself the following questions:


  • Is this site near amenities? 

  • Will this tree be evergreen or deciduous?

  • How tall and wide do I want this tree to be? (keeping in mind surrounding plants, buildings or pathways).

  • What is the trees' purpose? E.g. shade, privacy, soil erosion control, aesthetic value, attract wildlife.

  • What features am I looking for? E.g. Flowers, bark colour/texture, autumn foliage, fruiting, branch structure.

  • What are its negative features? E.g. excessive seed production or fruit formation. Are there cultivars that do not produce fruits?

  • Will the tree require frequent pruning or drop leaves?

  • Will the tree suit the style and size of the area?

  • What is the water source and where will it come from?

  • What type of soil do I have and what soil can the tree tolerate or thrive in?


Eucalyptus caesia

Acacia mearnsii

Low Water-Use Trees

Arbutus unedo

Lagerstroemia indica

Many gardens are utilising low water use trees as we become more aware of the cost of water, and the need to conserve it. Therefore these trees can have lower maintenance requirements, as the watering regime can be less frequent.

Some low water use plants and their height at maturity are:​​



  • Acacia baileyana


  • Acacia elata


  • Acacia  mearnsii


  • Arbutus unedo


  • Callistemon vinimalis


  • Eucalyptus caesia


  • Lagerstroemia indica


  • Olea europaea


  • Robinia pseudoacacia



Cootamundra Wattle


Cedar Wattle


Black Wattle


 Irish Strawberry Tree


Weeping Bottle Brush


Silver Princess


Crepe Myrtle


Common Olive


 False Acacia



Trees with Invasive Root Systems

When trees are provided with adequate water and nutrients, their roots rarely cause a problem. Yet when water is in short supply to the tree, the plant’s water requirement must still be met. Therefore roots of some plants can be very destructive to paths, walls, pipes etc.


Often when a tree causes major problems it may not have had the right growing conditions to start with. Often the best remedy is to remove the tree, and replace it with a species more suitable to the growing conditions.


Some tree species to avoid in suburban areas which are prone to having invasive root systems:


  • Alnus jorullensis

Evergreen Alder

  • Salix chilensis

Chilean Willow

  • Salix alba

White Willow

  • Populus alba

White Poplar or Silver Leafed Poplar

Populus alba

Plants for Hedging or Screening

Robinia pseudoacacia

Callistemon viminalis

There are often one or two areas within the garden which need to be screened - from neighbours, the road, fences or garages. Often in these areas you need a quick-growing dense plant.


Some examples are:


  • Acacia iteaphylla

Its prominent feature is the yellow flowers during Winter to Spring.


  • Acacia howittiSticky Wattle

Its prominent feature is the yellow flowers during Winter to spring.


  • Acmena smithiiLilly-Pilly 

Its prominent feature is the purple/red berries during winter.


  • Allocasuarina verticillataDrooping She-Oak

Its prominent feature is the thin pendulous foliage.


  • Callistemon viminalisWeeping Bottle Brush

Its prominent feature is the red flowers during spring.


  • Pittosporum tenuifolium - James Stirling

Its prominent feature is the small variegated leaves which form a dense hedge with regular pruning.



Hedging often requires tip pruning from the first year onwards. This maintains or forms the shape of the plant and encourages lateral shoots, therefore forming a dense foliage cover. If a fast result is required the hedging plants can be planted closely together. Many of the suggested plants have prominent flowers which give the hedge added colour.


This page is only a guide; as each plant has specific water requirements, climatic conditions, and soil preferences, you may want to seek further information before planting.

Call us!

The Tree Crew

53 Ellsa Street,

Balwyn North

VIC 3104 AU


We mainly work in the following areas:




Box Hill










Mont Albert