Lot Planting

landscaping-planting-treeFoothills Landscaping provides tree planting services for select Calgary developers. While we proudly plant these trees, any further care is the responsibility of the home owner. As such, we cannot offer warranty or replacement should something go wrong. We do, however, want your trees to last generations, so please take the time to read through the care instructions we’ve provided. Following these guidelines will give your plants the best possible chance.


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Tree and Shrub Survival Guide

Foothills Landscaping provides this handy guide to caring for your newly planted trees and/or shrubs so that you, the new home owner, understand what is required to make those trees and shrubs thrive. Keep in mind that planting trees is vastly different from something like putting in a fence – failing to care properly for living plants will kill them. With care and attention, your Foothills tree will be a beautiful and luscious specimen for decades, increasing the curb appeal and value of your home.



watering-treesYour trees and shrubs must have water available at all times, otherwise they will die - just like you. For the first 2 or 3 days after planting, keep your new plants saturated to ensure that water has infiltrated the entire root ball. This soaking sets up the young tree in its new environment and will give it the best chance of survival into the future.

For the remainder of the season, water your trees and shrubs once a week, allowing a slow trickle of water to soak into the soil around the plants for long enough that the water penetrates up to a foot into the soil. If, however, the weather is cool and damp, check to see if the top 4 inches (10cm) are dry before adding any more water. If the top of the soil is still damp, don’t water until it dries. Also, if the weather is very hot and dry, your plants may dry out much faster, so watering may be required more often. Remember that if your plants have no moisture available, they will die.

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soilTrees and shrubs require nutrients from the soil, but some soils have insufficient nutrients to keep your plants healthy. Fertilizers are essential to keep your plants healthy and pest free. All fertilizers are composed of various proportions of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, represented on the packaging by a ratio of three numbers (20-20-20, 34-0-0, 1-5-1, etc.). Different ratios are necessary for different stages of plants’ growth. With all fertilizers, care must be taken to follow the directions. Adding too much fertilizer can quickly kill your plants, and adding too little will have little to no effect. The best time to fertilize is early to mid spring, but it can be added any time before the middle of July. Do not fertilize after July.

In the first season, your tree is growing roots much more than branches, so you will not necessarily see much visible growth the first year. This is perfectly normal. To help with root growth, a fertilizer high in Phosphorous (a larger middle number) such as 10-52-10 is recommended. Do not use a high Nitrogen fertilizer (a larger first number, such as 34-0-0) as this will prompt the plant to grow branches and leaves instead of roots, detracting from it’s long-term health.

In the second and subsequent seasons, fertilize with an even ratio fertilizer, such as 20-20-20. This provides balanced feeding for leaves, shoots, roots, and flowers.  With any fertilizers, the most important thing to remember: follow the manufacturer's directions.

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Winterizing your Trees and Shrubs

Because the ground freezes in our part of the world, it is important to give trees a substantial watering before this happens in the late fall. Sometime between mid-October and mid-November, give your plants a heavy watering. This water will freeze around the root ball of the tree or shrub and protect it from damage during Chinooks. The sudden rise in temperature during a Chinook can fool plants into coming out of dormancy and starting to move water inside their tissues – especially if the Chinook lasts 5 or more days. When the temperatures fall again after the Chinook has passed, plants that have fluid water in their tissues can be killed when that water refreezes and expands. If a Chinook is particularily long (a week or more), you may need to water in order to keep surface roots from drying out.

Once the ground is frozen, it’s a good idea to add mulch to the tree well (grass clippings, wood shavings, leaves) to insulate the roots from temperature changes.  Be careful to keep mulch at least a few inches away from the trunk itself, as mice and voles like to hide in the mulch and chew on the bark while they hide from predators.

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Tree Species Available for Lot Planting

   Please keep in mind that different species are chosen by different developers.  If you live in one of our lot planting communities, you will receive an information package that details the trees available to you.


Fraxinus sp.

Up to 15m height

Ash trees are well-suited to Southern Alberta being Chinook-tolerant and widely adapted to different soil conditions. Ash are good shade trees in the summer, and allow most light through in the winter. They have moderate water needs, meaning that they don’t need to be heavily watered every other week, but at least once a month is a good idea. Underwatered and underfed Ash can be susceptible to Cottony Psillid, an insect that swept through the Calgary region between 2007 and 2010. Healthy trees are generally unaffected.


Malus sp.

Flowering Crabapples
Approx 5m Height
Varieties available are: Spring Snow, Thunderchild, Rudolph, Dolgo

Crabapples produce prodigious, fragrant flowers in late May or Early June in either white (Spring Snow and Dolgo) or shades of pink (Thunderchild and Rudolph). They like well-drained soil and full sun to produce copious flowers, and like moderate watering. The Spring Snow variety is sterile and won’t produce any fruit, making it tidier, but the Dolgo produces tasty red apples that are good for cooking or eating. Thunderchild and Rudolph fruit are strictly ornamental – some birds like them, but you probably won’t.


Populus tremula ‘erecta’

Swedish Columnar Aspen
Up to 15m Height

Tall, and tightly columnar, the Swedish Aspen are distinctive trees that are becoming very popular. Swedish Aspens are drought tolerant, but still enjoy healthy watering. Leaves emerge reddish-brown in the spring, and turn red to yellow in the fall. Like all members of the Poplar family, this tree grows in quickly providing shade or a privacy screen.


Sorbus americana

American Mountain Ash

The Mountain Ash features olive to bronze coloured bark for winter interest, profuse clusters of white flowers in late spring, and luminous orange to red berries in the fall and winter. Leaves turn brilliant orange and red, sometime slate-blue in the fall. Birds love these trees in late winter, when they devour the fermented berries. Mountain Ash are susceptible to sun-scald – singed bark from sun reflecting off snow onto the trunk – but simply trampling down the snow to cut reflectivity can prevent this. They need well-drained soil, meaning that water doesn’t pool around the roots.


Quercus macrocarpa

Bur Oak

We don’t get many Oaks in Alberta, but this one is Prairie-hardy and is gaining popularity as a street tree. The Bur Oak has distinctive, ridged bark and large, deeply lobed leaves that turn amber in the fall. They take some time to really establish, but grow more quickly as they age. Older trees will produce acorns. Bur Oaks are drought tolerant once established, but young trees need to be well watered. They prefer full sun for best growth, so they may not perform to their potential on the north side of a house.


Prunus virginiana ‘Schubert’

Schubert Chokecherry
Up to 8m Height

In the spring, as the leaves emerge, the Schubert is utterly indistinguishable from its cousin, the Mayday. As the clusters of white blooms wither in the late spring, and the heat of summer progresses, the leaves turn a deep purple, which is one of the only ways to tell a Schubert from a Mayday. These trees are susceptible to Black Knot – a fungal disease marked by cattail like black growths on the extremities of branches. Black Knot can be devastating, so pruning out infected branches is essential.


Picea pungens

Colorado Spruce
Up to 20m Height

The Colorado grows to be a lush, impressive tree that can span up to 5m wide, so it can take up a very large portion of a small front yard. That size, and the fact that it keeps needles year-round, make it an excellent privacy screen. Once established, these trees like a regular fertilization regime, and relatively light watering. Colorado Spruces often come in a distinctive blue colouring, but sadly, we cannot guarantee this is the colour that will be provided.

A Little Extra Information:

All young trees need frequent watering, since on a hot afternoon, a two meter tall tree can pump tens of litres of water through its trunk. Water evaporates from the surface of leaves the same way it does from the surface of a lake, so replenishing that water is vital to establishing a healthy tree. At least once a week, your tree should be soaked – BUT be sure to allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before soaking again, otherwise fungus can take hold and ruin everything.

Once your tree is planted, don’t do anything to change the level of soil around the trunk or above the roots. Placing more soil atop growing roots can limit oxygen, which can kill a tree. If adding mulch, add up to three inches of depth, except within a few inches of the trunk, as mulch against the bark can cause the bark to rot.

If you think your newly planted tree is dying, don’t panic. If there are brown spots on the leaves, and it just doesn’t seem to be growing, be patient. When any plant is transplanted, it will grow roots to fill in its new ‘container’ before it puts on any visible, above-ground growth. This is as true for tomatoes as it is for Oak trees. Plants are often a bit shocked by the transfer – imagine you were biologically adapted to remain in the same spot for your 50 to 200 year life span, and some landscaper comes and digs you up, exposes your roots to the breeze, and plants you into a new spot where the weather and water conditions are not quite what they were. It can be traumatic, and symptoms of shock can show up – such as brown spots on leaves, dropping leaves altogether, even losing branches. Watch your tree for a full season, if not a whole year, and see how it behaves in the spring. If it doesn’t come back, or the new leaves have the same symptom as you saw the previous year, then you know there's a genuine problem.

And be assured: Foothills does not plant sub-par trees or shrubs. We just don’t.

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