Every location has its challenges—its less-than-ideal conditions. Some of these “problem” areas are actually not problems for nature as there are suitable plants for such unfortunate patches of the land. Installing trees that are native to America as well as native to a specific locale can dramatically change the way you view the problem areas for the landscape and turn a difficult area into a terrific focal point.
It’s always a good idea to work with native plants when possible. Of course, gardeners like what they like and there’s many exotic plants that can be adapted to a foreign location. Keep in mind, however, that many foreign species are prone to either excel in our home soils to the detriment of other plants or suffer the alternative fate due to a lack of hardiness or the inability to adapt to local conditions. Native plants are excellent choices for all gardeners, but in particular, for people who do not have a great deal of time to spend in the garden. Native trees tend to require far less care because, when planted in the right location, are hardy and will thrive on their own. Foreign trees often need more maintenance help from the gardener.
While every yard poses its own challenges, some typical “problems” for landscapes include wetlands, overly dry or intensely sunny spots, or open land requiring windbreaks. Be sure to learn about any tree you decide to plant—its health and maintenance requirements and its root pattern—you don’t want the tree to interfere with the structure of your home, for instance, because it was planted too close.
If you have wet sites on your landscape there are many wonderful trees to choose from that will not only tolerate such a location, but may actually thrive. The river birch is a wonderful native tree with year round appeal. Even in winter, the peeling texture of the bark provides considerable visual appeal. In the autumn, leaves turn a lovely shade of yellow. A rapid grower, this tree has the potential to grow about fifty feet under ideal conditions. Because it prefers moist conditions, it is perfect for a wet site.
The swamp magnolia grows mainly in the Eastern and Southern portions of the United States. This blooming tree produces lemon-scented flowers set against rich green foliage. Ideal for wet sites, it is a great tree for marginal areas of the landscape such as alongside creeks, streams or swamplands.
If your wet patch of land is in an urban setting, opt for an American linden tree. With attractive fall foliage and minimal pruning needs, this is a slow-growing tree that is perfectly adaptable to city and suburban life and will tolerate many soil-types.
For an intensely sunny spot, there is nothing like a tree to add shade and shelter for the landscape. The scarlet oak tree adds both shade and color to a bare sunny area with its reddish leaves that blaze intensely during the autumn season. A rapid grower, this tree has the potential to reach 160 feet in height. It is a wonderful tree to serve as a focal point for the front yard.
White spruce trees will also tolerate a great deal of sunlight. They grow upwards of about sixty feet with a width of about twenty feet. They have considerable winter interest and will also serve as a lovely focal point for any area of the landscape. A moist loamy soil with allow them to thrive. Other trees to consider for a sunny spot include the hop hornbeam, cluster pine, white pine, red cedar and black locust.
Trees make great windbreaks for bare locations. Here’s a great video showing some a real life installation of wind breaking trees. In this way, they protect other plants on the premises creating protective microclimates for them. The red cedar tree provides year-round interest for the landscape. While it may reach about sixty feet, it tends to hover around half that height in most residential yards. Because its low branches and width of about twenty feet, it makes an ideal screen—not to mention a beautiful one. Other great windbreak trees include the Douglas fir, white pine, pitch pine, downy hawthorn and various kinds of oak trees.
While each landscape presents its unique challenges, chances are, a native tree may make for a great fix for decades to come.
If you have questions about trees that might be a fit for your yard, please reach out to us here