Where to Plant Coast Redwoods
How to Choose a Planting Site for Coast Redwoods
So, you’re thinking of planting a coast redwood. Bravo!
Before you proceed, however, you need to ensure you have a proper planting site so your climate-change-fighting legacy can live on for generations to come.
Below is a checklist to help you determine an ideal location for your tree to reach its fullest carbon-sequestration potential.
(Information adapted from Connie Barlow’s “Finding Good Redwood Habitat in Coastal Pacific Northwest”)
|Ideal site characteristic||Explanation|
|Protection from strong winds||Once redwoods have grown above their neighboring trees, strong winds can sever the tops. Protection from the wind is essential for redwoods to reach their maximum height.|
|Minimal afternoon sun exposure -- East-facing slope of a mountain, hill, or ravine or Forest edge||Summers are becoming hotter and drier in the Pacific Northwest. Locations with direct morning sun and reduced afternoon sun are ideal, such as the east-facing slope of a hill or a forest edge.|
|Moisture in the summer from: Subsurface water flow and/or dependable fog||Redwoods require access to moisture in the summer to help offset the effects of drought. Plant at the bottom of a slope with subsurface water flow, or near inner-coastal shoreline with dependable fog. Avoid sites that are soggy for many days after rainfall.|
|Loamy soil||Loamy soil can indicate a nutrient-rich, well-drained, moderately moist landscape ideal for redwoods.|
|Full sun or partial shade||Redwoods can grow in a remarkable range of light conditions, from partial shade to full sun—these trees can produce leaves that are adapted to different light levels. However, as its leaves are evergreen, it can take several years to adjust. If the tree was raised in a nursery with different light conditions from where it is planted, it may underperform until new leaves are produced.|
Indicator plants present
- Canopy indicators
- Western red cedar, western hemlock, Sitka spruce, bigleaf maple
- No Pacific madrone (presence indicates conditions are too dry)
The presence of plants that require similar conditions to coast redwoods can indicate an ideal site. On the other hand, the presence of plants requiring vastly different conditions can indicate a poor planting site that should be avoided.
- Subcanopy indicators
- Sword ferns with fronds 3 feet or greater
No salal (presence indicates conditions are too dry)
If an area has been cleared of forest, visit a nearby forested site (if possible) with the same physical conditions and assess the plants present.
- 30 feet or more from roads, sidewalks, and foundations
- 25 feet from other coast redwoods
No overhead infrastructure
Coast redwoods can reach impressive heights and widths; they will need ample room to grow without interference from structures, overhead and underground utilities, and other infrastructure that could be damaged by a large tree. A minimum distance of 30 feet should be maintained when planting near roads, sidewalks, and foundations to reduce the chance of damage from these trees’ large root systems. Redwoods do well in groves planted at least 25 feet apart.
Hardiness Zones 7-9
Avoid locations that have hard frosts
Coast redwoods can be expected to grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-9. (see map). They grow best at elevations below 3,000 elevation and do not easily tolerate temperatures below freezing. Hard frosts can kill branch tips or even the entire tree. When planting a redwood, think of western red cedar or western hemlock habitat.
After you have identified a suitable site for a coast redwood, it is time to plant! See our blog post on How to Plant a Tree to ensure your tree gets off to a great start.
Can’t find a good redwood site? Perhaps a giant sequoia is more your speed! Sequoias also are giants at fighting climate change, but they are much less finicky about their habitat. See our blog post on How to Choose a Planting Site for Giant Sequoias.