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When trees get dressed with the colors of fall, it’s time to go shopping.

“If you’re specifically interested in fall color, it will soon be the time to start looking,” said Neil Bell, a horticulturist with Oregon State University Extension Service. “There are already some trees starting to display color.”

First, though, Bell recommends doing some research. Walk around neighborhoods, parks and public gardens to get ideas. If you can’t identify the trees you like, snap good photos, pick up several leaves or ask the owner for a cutting. Take them to the nursery or to your local OSU Extension office for identification. You can also cut out pictures from magazines and flip through garden books to find possibilities.

But wait, you’re not done. After filtering down your favorites, be absolutely sure about size, soil and sun requirements, Bell said. You don’t want to be stuck with a 60-foot tree where a 30-foot tree should have gone.

“The biggest problem people have,” he said, “is that a tree gets too large, and then they are forced to prune just to reduce the size of the tree, which can often look horrible. I see it all the time.”

Topping — or cutting off the tips of trees — is especially undesirable. It introduces the possibility of disease and gives pests more access. Topping also encourages weaker growth and alters the shape.

“It disfigures the tree,” Bell said. “That’s my main objection.”

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