The wonderful thing about planting a tree is that in doing so we not only help ourselves but also perform a service to the world. If we were to go into all the benefits that trees provide there will be little space left for the topic at hand. Just briefly, one may reiterate that trees absorb carbon during their growth and that helps stabilize climate. Trees produce life-giving oxygen. Planted at home they enhance aesthetics and value of the property. Depending on the variety they may also produce fruits and other food besides. Planted in places of work, they improve work environment; planted on a street or park trees improve human habitations and planted in the countryside they adorn and enrich mother earth; all this while they work steadily to improve climate, soil and provide food plus shelter to numerous birds and animals.
One may have noted that most plants and animals serve nature and earn good karma just through the process of living, for example birds help spread seeds of trees and manure over wide territories. A human is perhaps the only animal that may do more harm to the planet than good during his or her lifetime. However planting a tree is a good thing that humans can do more easily than other animals if they choose to. In case one decides to plant one or more trees, the question that arises is which tree to plant. There are so many kinds. Selecting the wrong variety can lead to problems. The simple way out is to just plant what a neighbor has planted or plant a tree that a nearby nursery suggested. One could make a more informed decision though. There are three things one may consider while selecting a tree - Adaptability, Desirability and Suitability.
Not every tree will grow easily in every climate. Before you go about selecting a tree to plant, there is a need to find out which trees are native to your area and which trees are potentially native. Native trees are the trees that grow wild in the countryside or are common in the city or town you live in. Potentially native trees are those that are not common in your area yet, but will grow easily, if planted. There is no strict definition of what a potentially native Tree is, but for convenience we may define a Potentially Native tree as one that will grow outdoors with no fertilization, insecticides and will not require watering that is more frequent than once a week in the first year of its growth during the hottest and driest months.
A potentially native tree will probably require no more than monthly watering during its second year and no watering at all in subsequent years. It is a different matter if you fertilize the tree and water more frequently to speed growth and enhance fruiting in later years but that is optional. The advantage of planting a potentially native tree as opposed to a native tree is that one may thereby introduce greater bio-diversity in an area. Discovering what trees are potentially native to your area and bringing saplings to plant from distant places is another matter. In the absence of professional advice, it may take some experimentation. If such trees are is planted in a home garden or farm one may wish to plant more than one variety in close proximity. Incase they all come up; some can be pruned or removed later. It takes time to grow a tree but it does not take much time to remove one. The best option would be if there were government sponsored tree propagation centers in your area that provide required guidance and saplings at reasonable cost. Alas, few such exist and this is something city, provincial and national governments must consider developing.
A fruit tree may be excellent for a home garden or perhaps you want one that looks pretty. Some trees will be both pretty and provide fruit. There are trees like the drumstick trees that provide much food. Its fruits, flowers and foliage are all edible and highly nutritious. If you were planting on a farm you may wish to consider some trees for their timber value. Hard wood trees yield wood for furniture and construction and can be sold for a good price. A tree may be cut down without a guilty conscience provided one plants some more to replace it. If it were up to this author, he would oblige all farmers with land areas greater than ten acres to reserve at least ten percent of land for orchards or other trees by law. Such a law may come up in future as more and more forests are cut down to make room for more farms.
Those with farms larger than twenty acres may be obliged to create a pond or lake of around at least two-acre size as well to catch rainwater. This will conserve ground water resources and possibly fishery if they were inclined to it. It may be pointed out that creation of lakes and ponds to store rainwater is the proper method of rainwater harvesting. Directing rainwater deep inside the ground through pipes is the incorrect method. That leads to pollution of ground water sources. Water that reaches under ground reservoirs from lakes has the benefit of bacterial purification above ground and natural filtration through the ground. Such reservoirs once created can help water plantation during dry months.
If you were planting a tree at home you may wish to consider the eventual shape and size of the tree depending on the size of the garden. It may shade out a potential lawn, flower or vegetable bed. Planted on the south side of the home it may block winter sun, unless it sheds its leaves in winter. On the other hand, a conifer or other slim trees will add grace to a home without producing much shade. If you are fortunate enough to live in a home with a large garden you can become more adventurous and plant several trees, some that may become huge, some that come up quickly and others such as a walnut that will develop over numerous years.
Many homeowners with a small garden choose just one fruit tree such as an apple, cherry or almond in cool climates or perhaps a dwarf mango or citrus tree in a warm one. There are small fruit trees such as a variety of limes and lemons that do not occupy much space and can be planted in large numbers even in a small garden. However, a tree need not be planted at home only. One can venture out on the street, parks and countryside (depending upon local needs, regulations and laws).
An excellent option for those who dwell in apartments is to grow an indoor tree in a pot. It will brighten up the apartment for a couple of years. When it becomes taller than three feet it may be shifted to the countryside during a picnic with a shovel and a basket of sandwiches with coke or beer. Do consider planting a tree, while encouraging others to do the same and then go on to plant bushes besides. You do not have to buy tea from a store if you have a tea bush, jasmine or white mulberry tree growing at home.
The picture is a photo of a couple of trees in my backyard that I grew around ten years ago.