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Old 03-15-2012, 12:38 PM
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Bought a house, now all I need is trees - Recommendations?


I really don't like pine trees so they're out, but I want to surround my new house with a small forest for privacy. I'm short on cash at the moment and I have some patience, but would like at least some eye level coverage in a year or so, so they'll need to already have a head start (4'-5') and should be fast growers.

I live in western Wisconsin so the trees/shrubs will have to be hardy.

Does anyone have great experiences with online nurseries? Are there tree species you'd recommend?
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:41 PM
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Blue spruce grows at least a foot every year, and they can get quite tall. We planted one that was about a foot high; ten years later the thing was about 15 feet. They're nice looking trees and no cones to deal with.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:48 PM
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I don't have any specific recommendations but if you are looking for a "forest" rather than one or two ornamental trees, see if you can find any "wholesale" nurseries (for lack of a better term) in your area. What I mean is that, at least around here, there are tons of full-service, retail nurseries that are aimed at the homeowner and have rather high prices. A little ways out of town, there are a few larger nurseries whose primary customers are landscapers and builders. They have less in the way of ornamentals, hardly anything is labeled by species or price, and nobody is there to hold your hand, but their prices are less than half of what the local nurseries charge.

Last edited by Baracus; 03-15-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:23 PM
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I think we are going to need to know a little more about you situation. How much land do you have? Are you looking for a few fast growing ornamentals, or a true forest?

The fastest growing trees that could be of use would be hybrid poplar, they grow from cuttings so once you get one established you can keep planting as many more as you like. They can be susceptible to some diseases as they get older and have a pretty short life cycle but they grow so fast that if they start looking ugly you can cut them down and they will sprout from the root collar. The “Prairie sky” variety might be what you are looking for, but they can grow to 80’ so you need a few acres.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:39 PM
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Plant wisely


Don't plant too close to the house. They will eventually grow big enough to damage it. Find a species of tree that has a terminal height not too high to manage. Don't plant anywhere near your sewer system.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:40 PM
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When you say you don't like pines, do you mean all evergreens, or would the spruce that Chefguy recommended work? I like the blue spruce too, but we also need to know how big you can let these trees grow - full-sized trees will get huge eventually. Evergreens are nice for screen trees since they don't drop their leaves.

Sorbus americana (American Mountain Ash) is also a very nice, hardy ornamental tree that you could consider for a specimen tree. Regular lilacs are very hardy and will turn into a nice, tall screen, and they are beautiful in spring and all summer and fall.

One of the most important things to remember when planting trees (and shrubs, too) is to plant for about their two-thirds grown size - you see shrubs and trees planted far too close to houses and sidewalks all the time, because they were just little when they were planted.
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:26 PM
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I really don't like pine trees so they're out, but I want to surround my new house with a small forest for privacy.[/q]
Non-conifer trees don't really provide much privacy. Within a short while, the canopy is going to be over your head, and then all that is between you and the neighbors it the trunk of the tree. If what you want it a fence/privacy wall, conifers give you the most cover.

[q]I'm short on cash at the moment and I have some patience, but would like at least some eye level coverage in a year or so, so they'll need to already have a head start (4'-5') and should be fast growers.
Unfortunately, coverage now and cheap usually don't go together.
If what you want is cheap, check out The Arbor Day foundation. You are probably a zone 4, so look for trees that will grow there.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:06 PM
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Honey locusts are nice, and relatively quick growing. Some municipalities, however, like Rockford, Illinois, has decided those are the reasons to plant the honey locust down every street in town. But if they're not overdone in your area, you might check them out.

Last edited by Pai325; 03-15-2012 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:06 PM
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Whatever you do plant a Birch or two, then enjoy the show during Fall.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:30 PM
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If you have the space, I'd recommend planting a band of evergreens around the perimeter of the 'forest' (holly and evergreen oaks are good if you don't like conifers), then planting deciduous trees within that boundary - that way, the trees nearest* the house won't be making too much shade in winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.

*not too close, obviously.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:37 PM
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I understand that if you get your trees from Michigan they'll automatically be the right height.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:37 PM
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Sliding this over to IMHO.
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:43 PM
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Maples grow extremely quick (for trees), look nice, and don't drop an excessive amount of crap year round like some trees. That would be my choice.
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:51 PM
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Stay away from ashes for now because of the ash borer beetle problem.
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:54 PM
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a forest dweller recommends:

1. don't plant evergreen trees to the *south* of your house unless you would like to live in deep gloomy shade year round.
2. second the advice about being careful about septic lines and closeness to the house.
3. very fast growing trees are often brittle trees that break limbs easily. They also may be rather short-lived. You might want to incorporate some slower growing longer lasting trees into the mix to eventually replace the ones you plant for immediate screening.
4. read a good gardening book for your area about the best landscaping trees.

Trees are a lot easier/cheaper to plant as cute babies than they are to take down once they are leaning on your house, way too tall, or tangled in your power lines. Plan.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:29 PM
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Only plant silver maples if at all close to the house for quick shade to be removed when the nicer trees back further get a little bigger. If you want evergreens consider cedars, a hardy northern tree. Maples and white oaks have an anthracnose problem.
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Old 03-15-2012, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by sitchensis View Post
I think we are going to need to know a little more about you situation. How much land do you have? Are you looking for a few fast growing ornamentals, or a true forest?
I want to manufacture what looks like a dense natural forest.

Two acres shaped in a rectangle, the house is in the middle. The east and south sides are already bordered by mature trees (10-20 years?) and I'd like to do the same with the north and west sides with a secluded private backyard.

I purchased a Tree's of Wisconsin book in order to identify what I already have around me, but any advice for specific tree species or tips in general for getting lots of them on the cheap would be helpful.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:02 AM
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Only plant silver maples if at all close to the house for quick shade to be removed when the nicer trees back further get a little bigger. If you want evergreens consider cedars, a hardy northern tree. Maples and white oaks have an anthracnose problem.
I was going to suggest avoiding silver maples, totally. They're fast growing and give great shade, but they're very messy. Just look at them wrong and they'll drop a wheel barrow full of branches.

You could also ask your local extension office, or even a reputable nursery.

Happy shade!
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Old 03-16-2012, 02:36 AM
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I was going to suggest avoiding silver maples, totally. They're fast growing and give great shade, but they're very messy. Just look at them wrong and they'll drop a wheel barrow full of branches.
Agree completely with AuntiePam. We have several massive silver maples and spend a couple hours after every windy day picking up branches. They also seed themselves relentlessly, have a massive and sometimes destructive root system, and provide basically no fall color. If you have deer predation, I would also suggest avoiding sugar maples; deer think they're candy.

You should check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District. They're the ones who make sure your land doesn't wash away into the nearest creek, among other things, so they like trees. Ours provides bareroot trees and shrubs in the 3-5 foot range for a good discount, and they usually have a forester on staff who can help you determine what will work best on your site. They don't usually advertise; we heard about the tree program in our county through word of mouth.

We've done business with Jung's Nursery, which is based in Wisconsin (Madison area or thereabouts?) and is a perfectly fine company, but we usually get our trees and shrubs either through the conservation district or through a local tree nursery. What they grow and sell is always going to be right for our particular area, and if anything does go wrong we know where they live .
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:57 AM
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I see silver maples as sort of like the annual rye grass you put down until you can get the good stuff started. Plan to get rid of them before they become to large and expensive.
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Old 03-16-2012, 08:39 AM
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I'd avoid anything marketed as a "fast-growing tree" (hybrid poplars, Paulownia and the like). They tend to be weak-wooded, short-lived and disease-prone.

There is a tall hedging variety of arborvitae ("Green Giant") that reputedly puts on several feet of growth a year under optimal conditions and rapidly creates a tall screen. I have a group of them that have grown OK but nowhere near the advertised rate (and deer have nibbled them here and there).

If you're not down on all conifers and like coppery-russet fall color, dawn redwood and bald cypress are tough, fairly fast-growing deciduous conifers that are hardy surprisingly far north (you could check with your local university ag dept. on this).

One good source I've found for interesting hardy trees (1-4 foot range, generally) is Oikos in Michigan. They have some oak varieties that are touted for relatively rapid growth, plus a number of other interesting nut and fruit trees.
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:36 AM
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You'll want locally grown native saplings, grown outside. That way they're already used to local weather patterns. I've had good luck with Flame Maples, they grow fairly fast and seem pretty strong and hardy for WI. They're also pretty ^_^ and rather bushy at first. Sugar Maples are pretty good too, mine haven't been doing that well but they've survived through whatever is wrong with them. Sounds contradictory but what I mean is they appear very determined to grow well despite sunscald and some sort of infestation.
The key to growing strong trees at a decent rate of growth is taking care of them properly. The first few years, water well, watch for sunscald, diseases and pests, and maybe fertilize (just remember that too much fertilizer can be just as harmful as not enough)
The UW Extension has decent information http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Trees-Shrubs-C80.aspx and http://hort.uwex.edu/topics/trees-shrubs
Like others have said, fast growth is nice, but the fastest growing trees also tend to be the shortest lived.
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:49 AM
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I agree with Jackmannii to consider the Thuja Green Giant. I had done the research and planned to put in a ton of them, then ran out of money.

Here's a discussion with some good pics.

Here's a well-regarded place to buy them.

Last edited by Parenchyma; 03-16-2012 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:22 PM
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For a fairly fast growing, strong, long lived tree, consider the tulip. I am not sure how far north they thrive.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:41 PM
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....
3. very fast growing trees are often brittle trees that break limbs easily. They also may be rather short-lived. You might want to incorporate some slower growing longer lasting trees into the mix to eventually replace the ones you plant for immediate screening. ...
Correct. Our neighborhood had a LOT of Leyland Cypress (fast-growing evergreen, provides great screening) and Bradford Pear (non-fruiting, very pretty shape). They're cheap, and the builders planted TONS of them, everywhere.

Trouble is, both varieties are very fragile. When we had a hurricane go through in 2003, 4 trees on our street went down. Two were Bradfords, two were Leylands. I think the problem with the Leylands is their roots are shallow; the Bradfords just have brittle wood.

So actually, you *could* try Leylands as long as you don't plant too close to the house - they'll offer prompt screening. However, do so with the plan that as you can, you'll replace them by better long-term choices.

Also - check with your county or state to get a feel for what kind of trees are native to the area - when our last Leyland went down (we had 3: 1 died in the hurricane, we had another removed, and the third went down in a windstorm a couple years later), we did the research and planted a serviceberry tree / shrub. Not *quite* as good screening, but native and it'd doing well.
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Old 03-16-2012, 01:45 PM
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<snip>we did the research and planted a serviceberry tree / shrub. Not *quite* as good screening, but native and it'd doing well.
The fact that you call it a serviceberry (rather than a saskatoon berry) tells me that you might not be eating the fruit. If you don't eat the fruit, give it a try - it's very good.
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:02 PM
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yup,


Think habitat when it comes to planting. food & shelter for the multitudes of wildlife ( you do want wildlife right?) ...what you have is a long term project to include a variety of shrubs and grasses, perennials, understory trees and long lived shade trees.

I like birch, dogwoods all varieties, service berry, nine bark, swamp oak, white oak, jack pine, tulip tree, red bud, magnolias...

Like sudden kestrel said, Start at you local soil conservation district or NRCS, many sell small saplings and trees native to your area. check em out http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/.../national/home

Last edited by chela; 03-16-2012 at 03:05 PM. Reason: had to add mulch
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:18 PM
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The fact that you call it a serviceberry (rather than a saskatoon berry) tells me that you might not be eating the fruit. If you don't eat the fruit, give it a try - it's very good.
So I've heard - but have never had the chance to try it; either it doesn't develop well or the birds get it .
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:39 PM
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It's easy to find Red Maple seedlings. Just find a Red Maple and they'll be all over the place. They take a couple of years to grow a couple of feet, and then spring up. A one to two foot tall sapling is easily transplantable if you can find those.
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Old 03-16-2012, 04:33 PM
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Some good advice here, especially about contacting the local home extension service.

Two other points:

1) BEFORE YOU PLANT - call Miss Dig, or Contractor's One Number Alert, or whatever it's called in your area. Where I live (Michigan) they will come out and mark all underground utilities for free, assuming you give them at least 3-4 working days lead time. I've had them out several times for this-n-that. They marked utilities with little plastic flags on wire, and also with spray paint, which will be gone after about 2 lawn mowings.

B) The previous owner put several small evergreens under the power lines at my place. I hired a tree guy to bring his tree spade and move them before they got to be too big. He mentioned a phenomenon he called "transplant shock". Basically, the tree will stop growing above ground for a period of time while it spends its energy rebuilding the network of roots that were disrupted by the move. His rule of thumb was that you can count on about one year per inch of trunk diameter before the tree starts to show some decent growth above ground. That means that it's possible to opt for a smaller tree now, and end up with a larger tree sooner than you would if you went for the bigger tree that didn't do much for 5 years.

III) If you have any deer in your area, then starting about the middle or end of September, considering putting stakes and chicken wire around your new tree(s) if possible. One morning a few years ago I found a buck rub on one of mine where that damned stupid buck almost girdled my new tree while trying to get rid of the velvet on his rack.

<snerk> I said "rack".
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:15 PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone, I had no idea there were this many arborphiles on the Dope.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:19 PM
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So I've heard - but have never had the chance to try it; either it doesn't develop well or the birds get it .
If you get blooms on the shrub, my guess is birds. I was waiting for my saskatoon berries to ripen a couple of summers ago, and the birds ate them all the second they were ripe enough. I put a bird net on my shrub now.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:11 AM
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Cleveland Pears are probably the fastest growing ornamental tree. They are slightly stronger than Bradford Pears although you should keep it somewhat sheltered from the prevailing wind/usual direction where you get severe weather from.

I planted a 4 footer in fall of 2009 and it's already 10 feet tall with a trunk 4 inches in diameter.
I planted it with a southwest exposure which isn't the best idea for this area because of said storms but I wanted it to grow rapidly. It can take all of the sun you can give it.

It's nickname is the heart breaker tree for good reason though. The branches at the connection point with the trunk is the weak point so a severe storm can do a lot of damage.

Oh well it's worked out beautifully so far. You're just taking some chances with it.
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:35 PM
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Cleveland Pears are probably the fastest growing ornamental tree. They are slightly stronger than Bradford Pears although you should keep it somewhat sheltered from the prevailing wind/usual direction where you get severe weather from.
Cleveland pears are supposed to be more breakage resistant than Bradfords, but both have been linked with invasiveness problems. Around here I see a lot of volunteer pears growing along roadsides. Whether or not this is considered a threat to wildlife habitat in your area is something the county extension service/university horticulture department in your area should be able to address.

The trees forum on Gardenweb has a lot of knowledgeable people willing to dispense useful advice and snark. Just don't mention Bradford pears over there.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 03-17-2012 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:28 AM
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I'd avoid anything marketed as a "fast-growing tree" (hybrid poplars, Paulownia and the like). They tend to be weak-wooded, short-lived and disease-prone.

There is a tall hedging variety of arborvitae ("Green Giant") that reputedly puts on several feet of growth a year under optimal conditions and rapidly creates a tall screen. I have a group of them that have grown OK but nowhere near the advertised rate (and deer have nibbled them here and there).

If you're not down on all conifers and like coppery-russet fall color, dawn redwood and bald cypress are tough, fairly fast-growing deciduous conifers that are hardy surprisingly far north (you could check with your local university ag dept. on this).

One good source I've found for interesting hardy trees (1-4 foot range, generally) is Oikos in Michigan. They have some oak varieties that are touted for relatively rapid growth, plus a number of other interesting nut and fruit trees.
I second the plug for Oikos! what a nice reminder hadn't thought of them in years, time for a visit again. They had the fist composting toilet I had ever seen, I used it to.
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:51 AM
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I second the plug for Oikos! what a nice reminder hadn't thought of them in years, time for a visit again. They had the fist composting toilet I had ever seen, I used it to.
Honestly, I'd rather you didn't compost my fists just yet. I have plans for them for the next 50 years or so. But you ARE welcome to them when I no longer need them, if you like.
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:01 PM
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I've heard you don't want to plant certain trees near water or sewer lines, like Weeping Willow and possibly Maple.

I'd recommend some sort of spruce trees, they are evergreens and provide nice greenery and cover.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:18 AM
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I'm curious to know what type of trees you settled on, Sitnam.

After surveying the local damage from the recent storm from downed tree limbs, I'll echo the advice of NOT planting Silver Maples.

If you haven't gotten started or still have some room in your yard, I highly recommend planting Northern Red Oaks

As others have said, most trees are either both slow growing and have hard wood OR they're fast growing and have soft wood. When most people think of Oaks they think slow-growing, but that seems to be more true of White Oaks. Northern Red Oaks grow quite rapidly, yet still manage to score a 1290 (relatively hard) on the Janka Hardness Test for wood.
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:23 AM
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I really don't like pine trees so they're out, but I want to surround my new house with a small forest for privacy. I'm short on cash at the moment and I have some patience, but would like at least some eye level coverage in a year or so, so they'll need to already have a head start (4'-5') and should be fast growers.

I live in western Wisconsin so the trees/shrubs will have to be hardy.

Does anyone have great experiences with online nurseries? Are there tree species you'd recommend?
There are fast growing Silver Maple trees that I wish wasn't in my yard, or in the yards around me. They are very Tall by 10 years, but in the Spring they drop little red flower buds that are a pain, then they drop their seeds( which are great many) and make the lawn look brown, in the summer (or on any windy day) there are branches all over the place, then comes Fall and the leaves, some don't fall all at once, so one is raking for many days( some years weeks)! Plus they attract box elder bugs which multiply by the millions. Once I came home from work and our garage looked like some one had spray painted it black. They get between the storm and regular windows and spot them all up!
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:25 AM
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Blue spruce grows at least a foot every year, and they can get quite tall. We planted one that was about a foot high; ten years later the thing was about 15 feet. They're nice looking trees and no cones to deal with.
Our blue Spruce does get cones; they are now about 35 feet tall, but they don't get enough cones to make a mess.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:58 AM
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If you want evergreens consider cedars, a hardy northern tree.
Do not plant cedars anywhere near a place you want to be able to sit. Mosquitos LOVE cedars.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:31 AM
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White oaks are supposed to be trees you plant for future generations, but they actually grow fairly quickly in their early years (I have a seven-footer in partial shade started from a foot high specimen a few years ago). They are magnificent trees with good fall color.

As for storm damage, we lost a young American smoke tree (broken off at ground level) and the top third of a tall white pine in our severe thunderstorm of last Friday. Our other American smoke tree did just fine (I recommend this tree (Cotinus obovatus) as a good American native with fall color and relatively quick growth). Most smoke trees that you see in landscapes are the purple-leafed variety which is fine, but doesn't have the good fall color.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:40 AM
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Look around your neighbourhood and see what's thriving in the environment. That should give you a good starting place.

Next consider a couple of fruit trees. I know people think they are too much work, but two or four, that you purposely keep short and small, like cherries or apples, are awesome once they start to produce for you. Plant them first, they will take a few years to get to fruiting, the time will fly by!

Please come back and tell us of your picks, gardeners love to hear such schemes!
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:38 AM
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As for storm damage, we lost a young American smoke tree (broken off at ground level) and the top third of a tall white pine in our severe thunderstorm of last Friday. Our other American smoke tree did just fine (I recommend this tree (Cotinus obovatus) as a good American native with fall color and relatively quick growth). Most smoke trees that you see in landscapes are the purple-leafed variety which is fine, but doesn't have the good fall color.
Ah, that's what those are! I've seen them in people's yards but didn't know how to describe them well enough to look them up. Thank you.
  #45  
Old 07-04-2012, 05:00 PM
phall0106 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Manchester, PA
Posts: 2,497
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tastes of Chocolate View Post
Unfortunately, coverage now and cheap usually don't go together.
If what you want is cheap, check out The Arbor Day foundation. You are probably a zone 4, so look for trees that will grow there.
My personal experience with the trees from the Arbor Day Foundation: The trees, if you could call them that (and that's only with a huge dose of imagination) were not much more than twigs with near nothing roots. They came in a plastic shipping bag and were so poorly labeled, we had no clue what they were. I had originally planned on giving some to friends and planting a few, but because there were so many different ones, and it was nearly impossible to tell which were which (some had faded colors on them, while others had no colors to match to a piece of paper with a description of the "tree"), I ended up planting one and not the others. My friends declined to take any, as they didn't know what types of trees they were planting.

Had I to do it all over again, I would elect not to order trees via the Arbor Day Foundation. Of course, I have a smaller piece of property (about a third of an acre). If I had more property and wanted to simply fill in with trees, then it might be fine, but I'd not be able to be picky about the trees planted.
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