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Choosing the best tree
for your landscape

 

Kathy
Henderson
Columnist

  This is a wonderful time of the year to plant trees for the landscape.  Choosing the perfect tree for the planting site needs to be of the highest priority.  If you plant a shrub or perennial in the wrong place, moving it later is quite easy; moving a tree may be an impossibility so you are stuck with a stump and lots of roots and the loss of a tree you really loved.    

  Look for a tree that has strong wood.  This means that it will be a slower growing species. A fast-growing tree will not make heavy wood and a strong trunk and root system. This will give you problems later in the life of the tree. Trees with open branching are less prone to broken limbs than those with narrow angles where the limbs meet.

  A perfect example of this would be the Bradford Pear with its upright form.  It grows fast (weak wood) and has narrow angles where the stems are formed.  It breaks easily in the wind and storms.   If you need that narrow form, look for a tree that makes strong wood - a slower-growing species.

  Plant trees away from the house - 30 feet or more if possible.  That will give you less problem with roots getting into the foundation and hopefully keep limbs and the tree itself off your house.  If you need shade close to the house near a sunny porch for example, consider using a large shrub instead of a tree.   An awning might also be a possibility.

  Most trees, as they age, form roots on the top of the ground, making it almost impossible to plant something underneath.  Consider this when adding a large tree to the landscape.

  Remember that our planting areas have a tendency to have an extremely hard subsoil, so most trees develop a fairly shallow root system.  If this root system is restrained, the tree may not form an anchor strong enough to keep the tree upright in a storm.  We see this when trees topple - perfectly healthy appearing trees with lots of above ground limbs and bright green leaves and a large trunk.  However, the root system was either damaged by construction or digging of some sort, or had poor drainage of water or just never was able to get into the soil to form as large a root system as was needed to anchor the large crown.  Pine trees that are supposed to form a “tap-root” seldom do so in this part of Georgia where we have a hard clay subsoil.

  Choosing the best tree entails choosing a beautiful tree, but make that choice with strength in mind.  If you have a few years on you and don’t want to wait for the tree to grow, consider hiring a landscaper with the ability to plant a large tree in the site.  It will make it easier on your back and give you the instant results you will enjoy.

  Some of my favorite trees:

  Shade Trees:  Maples ‘Autumn Blaze’, ‘October Glory’, ‘Nuttall’ Oak, ‘Willow Oak’

‘Overcup Oak’  (love the acorns), Bald Cypress, Magnolias (if you have the room).

  Small Trees:  Trident Maple, ‘Sawtooth Oak’ (leaves cling all winter), Japanese Maples, Korean Dogwood, Crapemyrtle.

 

 

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