In the last two weeks we talked about planting trees. This week I will discuss the basic types of trees to help you determine what will work best for your landscape. To keep things simple, there are four basic groups of trees for you to consider for your landscape. First are the deciduous shade trees, which are the primary anchors for the typical landscape. They provide shade from spring to fall, and then drop their leaves in the fall, leaving the branches bare until spring rolls around again. This group of trees is the source of the color change that we all love in autumn, although there are those whose leaves just turn brown before falling. Maples, Red Oaks, Elms Japanese Maples and many others put on quite a show for fall. These trees grow anywhere from around 10 – 60 feet tall depending on the type and variety, so be careful when planning and remember all of the things we talked about last week such as the other elements in your and your neighbor’s landscape, the type of lawn grass and placement in the yard. Not all of these trees do well in the full sun…some need to be planted as understory trees to be successful.The second groups to consider are the ornamental trees. These provide flowers and occasionally color change in the fall as well, but they do not bear fruit. This includes such trees as the Ornamental Pears, Redbud, Purple Leaf Plum, Dogwoods, Crabapples and others. Typically smaller at maturity than the first group, they are still capable of providing screens or shading, depending on the type of tree and the shape of the canopy that it forms. Some, such as the dogwood need to be in the shade and can be used in conjunction with the larger shade trees to provide a striking element in the landscape.Third, are the evergreen trees which include the conifers as well as some of the hollies and Magnolia. In the conifer group, you must take care to choose a variety that will do well in our area. Junipers, Pines, Spruce, Leyland Cypress and Yews all fit into this group, but not all can handle our climate here. The hollies include several tree forms, are usually slow growing and have the added benefit of berries for wildlife. Magnolias are beautiful, stately trees and several hybrid dwarf forms have been propagated to fit into the smaller landscapes many homes have. They also produce stunning flowers from pink (Jane or Saucer Magnolia) to white. These trees provide year round shade or screening and can be used along with the other groups to create interesting combinations.The fourth group to consider is the fruit and nut bearing trees. If you enjoy harvesting your own, then this is a must. The garden centers in the area should only offer those varieties that will work for you, but it is important to determine if you need more than one to ensure pollination for fruit or nut production. Some varieties are self-pollinating, but most will do better with 2 or more. This group not only provides fruit, but the added element of flowers on some for your enjoyment. Though a few of the trees like the apples tend to grow large, others like peach are smaller in stature. Many hybrid dwarf forms are also available, making the fruit tree something that can fit into even the smallest yards. Most nut trees grow quite large and frequently require another for pollination, so remember to leave room if you choose to add them. The Extension service has a wealth of information available on fruit and nut trees. Do some research to find what will work best for you.
Please keep in mind that this was a very simplified version of trees…for more information, please contact your local garden center or utilize the extension office in your area. Planning is critical in designing your landscape, so take your time and make informed decisions that you can enjoy for years to come.