Trees for Springtime Planting

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” — Chinese proverb

Spring is the ideal time to introduce new trees to your home environment. The gentle warmth of sunny spring days encourages the roots to spread out and grow while spring rains bring needed moisture. By planting in spring, new trees have several months to establish strong roots before the mercury plummets and winter returns.

Trees provide spring flowers, cooling shade in summer, a brilliant splash of bold color in autumn and visual interest in winter. Trees can be used to hide an unsightly view, planted as a windbreak to reduce cold winds and lower heating bills, to define property boundaries, provide essential shelter and food for wildlife, control erosion in unstable soil, and help reduce carbon in the earth’s atmosphere.

Adding elegant, eye-catching trees to the home landscape is one of the fastest ways to add beauty and value to your property. The Arbor Day Foundation advises, “In one study, 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a ‘strong or moderate impact’ on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%.”

In the mid-west, homeowners especially appreciate the shade on hot summer days. The United States Department of Agriculture advises, “The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” The United States Forest Service notes, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating.”

Planting trees is an investment in your property that should not be taken lightly. Selecting the right trees that will flourish in your location can greatly affect the valuation of the property. The Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers state, “A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.”

When considering planting trees to beautify your home, the advice and services of a knowledge landscape contractor is crucial. Your landscape contractor will recommend the best trees for your site and situation; taking into consideration the height and width of the tree at maturity, the architectural style of the home and the location of underground utilities, septic or sewer systems, irrigation or sprinkler systems and water lines that serve pools, fountains or other water features.

Tree planting should be part of a long-term landscape plan for your property that factors in terrain, soil conditions, drainage and available light. Other considerations, when selecting the right trees for your home landscape, are longevity, ease of maintenance, resistance to disease and tolerance of extremes in climatic conditions.

When adding trees to their home landscape, most homeowners prefer an “instant” landscaped-look that can only be accomplished by planting large-landscape-size trees. Although the homeowner can plant small potted trees themselves, it will be years before the tree has an impact on the visual appearance of the landscape.

By engaging the services of a professional landscape contractor with experience and the right equipment, trees up to 8 inches in diameter can be planted; saving labor, planting time and years and years of maintenance of a juvenile tree. Planting a developed, larger tree also eliminates the risk of mower or edger damage that often occurs on smaller, younger trees.

Talk to your landscape designer or contractor. There are hundreds of different species of trees that do well in United States Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. Your choice of ornamental trees is only limited by your imagination. Choose trees based on personal preference, adaptability to your local growing conditions and the limitations of your budget. Popular choices include:

Oak

The official United States national tree, the mighty oak is one of the most planted trees in mid-west landscapes, both urban and rural. Oaks are prized for their sturdy growth, majestic size, and grand presence. A broad-crowned classic, the Northern Red Oak tree (Quercus rubra), is a winner in any spacious yard or open landscape. A deciduous tree that grows to a stately height of 50 feet high, the Northern Red Oak develops a full, broad canopy up to 60 feet wide at maturity. On sunny days, the graceful canopy is a beautiful spot under which to dine or relax.

Exhibiting fresh glossy green color in springtime, cooling shade during the hottest days of summer, brilliant fire red fall foliage and winter interest, the Northern Red Oak is strong and hardy to withstand the cold and winds of winter. Native to the mid-west, the Northern Red Oak is tolerant of pollution and withstands the rigors of the city well. Fast growing and hardy in United States Planting Zones 4 through 7, the Northern Red Oak tree prefers nutrient rich, well-drained, acidic soil.

Maple

If you are looking to add a brilliant splash of color to your fall landscape, look no further than the mighty maple tree.

Everyone’s favorite, the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharinum) is a dependable choice for adding breathtaking fall color. Grown throughout the mid-west, the Sugar Maple turns vivid shades of red and orange in autumn. Fast growing, Sugar Maples develop attractive grey bark as they mature. The drought tolerant and disease resistant Sugar Maple reaches a height of 45-55 feet at maturity and develops a round canopy 30 to 50 feet wide.

Trident maple (Acer buergerapum), Hedge maple (Acer campastre), Paperback maple (Acer griseum), Japanese maple (Acer plamatun), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), and Norway maple (Acer platanpides) all offer vibrant fall color, grow from 30 to 50 feet tall and adapt to most soil conditions.

Considered one of the best of the hybrid maples, the Freeman maple tree (Acer x freeman) is best known for its magnificent display of brilliant red-orange fall foliage. At maturity, the Freeman Maple tree grows 75 to 80 feet tall and from 40 to 50 feet wide and will fare well when planted in an open area with plenty of sun and moist, well-drained, pH-neutral soil.

Another fast-growing hybrid maple, “Autumn Blaze” matures to a height of 50 to 65 feet and forms a dense oval crown 40 to 50 wide.

Because of specific cultural requirements, maple trees are only dug by nurseries in the spring and may only be planted in the spring.

Zelkova

The “Green Vase” zelkova tree (Zelkova serrate “Green Vase”) is prized for strong upright arching branches that give the tree a pleasing symmetrical shape. Adding height and vertical interest to the landscape, the “Green Vase” tree reaches a height of 60 to 70 feet tall at maturity and presents a cone-shaped canopy that is 40 to 50 feet wide. The ornamental tree prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. Hardy in United States Planting Zones 5 through 8, the Green Vase tree tolerates pollution, drought, and strong winds, making it an excellent tree for street-side planting in urban areas. Disease resistant and fast growing, the Green Vase tolerates most types of soil.