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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Whatever you do plant a Birch or two, then enjoy the show during Fall.

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.

I understand that if you get your trees from Michigan they’ll automatically be the right height. :cool:

Sliding this over to IMHO.

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.

Stay away from ashes for now because of the ash borer beetle problem.

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.

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 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.

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!

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 ;).

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.