First, ask yourself why you want a tree or shrub. This will help you pick the best species and decide where to plant it.
Do you want it for shade? Plant a big leafy tree on the southwest side of your house to reduce summer cooling costs. Do you want to create privacy and muffle noise? Then a tall hedge will do the trick. Do you want to add color to your landscape? Plant flowering trees such as magnolia and redbud and shrubs such as lilac and azalea.
Your Lowe's garden center specialist can help you find the best trees and shrubs to meet your needs - as well as plants that grow best in your region.
Now, choose the right location. That means matching the species with the growing conditions, such as available moisture and light. A Japanese maple, for example, likes a moist, well-drained soil and part shade. So it's best planted on the east side of a house, where it gets afternoon shade, or near the protective cover of a large shade tree.
Always consider the ultimate size of a tree or shrub. A plant in a small container may look cute, but it could grow to be very large. Check the plant tag to learn a plant's mature size.
The rule of thumb is to space small species - those with a mature height less than 25 feet - at least 8 feet from the house. Trees that grow 30 feet or taller should be located at least 15 feet from the house. Also, avoid planting under power lines, over septic systems, or close to sidewalks.
When choosing, consider whether you want a deciduous (those that lose their leaves in the fall) or an evergreen tree. Deciduous trees on the south or west side of a house can provide shade to reduce air-conditioning costs in summer. When the trees are leafless in winter, they allow warming sunlight to reach the house. Evergreens keep their needles all year long, so they provide privacy, screening, and wind protection. Site them on the north or west side of a house to help reduce heating costs in winter.