What Trees to Plant - New House

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Patrick Larkin, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

    May 8, 2001
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    Hello -

    Its coming.... Spring that is and I want to get an early start on planting in my completely empty lot. We just bought a new house in November and it has nothing except grass seed and hay.

    Its a half acre lot so I'd like to get some trees planted in the front and back yard. I have no idea what kind of trees to buy but I'm hoping some here have been through this process before.

    I'd like nice looking trees that will grow fairly quickly. I don't want to get an ugly tree that grows real fast tho. Thanks.
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Aug 15, 2002
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    The key is to know your soil zone and plant hardiness zone. The plant hardiness map for Pennsylvania is here:


    A call to your local nursery should yield your soil zone. You should find a variety of trees that will suit your needs.

    Once you've selected your tree, I recommend the following. First, remember that for a $50 tree you need a $100 hole, so make the diameter of your hole about twice that of the root ball; the depth will depend on the size of the root ball itself. Second, I recommend that you supplement the soil in the hole with 2 key ingredients: cow manure (sold at Home Depot as Black Gold and other brands) and triple phosphate fertilizer. Follow watering instructions carefully for the type of tree you've purchased. Most trees need substantial watering during the first few days to weeks after planting.

    You can protect the root ball and soil with mulch of any variety. Don't make the mistake of making many small plantings (flowers, etc) around the base of the tree as these will compete for water and nutrients.

    As far as fast growing trees: the answer will depend on your zone, of course. A beautiful and fairly rapid growing tree is the Bradford pear tree (non-fruit bearing), which can reach heights of 25 ft in a few years. However, this tree, I'm told, has a shorter lifespan than others, perhaps 15 years or so. Crepe myrtle is another very rapid growing plant that can be trained either as a bush or a tree. Also, consider the various forms of privet, which is a bush that grows rapidly.

    Have fun. Gardening/landscaping is a wonderful pasttime; don't treat it as a chore.
  3. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

    Mar 8, 2000
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    Check with your local arbor. There's probably a billion trees to choose from depending on what you're looking for (shade, privacy, beauty) They should be able to recommend something. Fast growing trees are prone to disease and can be brittle. Fruit trees can look nice when they blossom in the spring, but can be a mess later in the year.

    We planted a 12' Linden tree last summer. It's a medium growth shade tree. So far, it looks nice.

    I even calculated what its shadow length would be during the summer solstice so I knew the best place to put it. I'm a geek like that. :b
  4. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

    Nov 30, 1998
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    Avoid Maple trees. They are popular because they grow very fast but they have very brittle branches once they get big.

  5. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

    Jan 24, 1999
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    How long do you intend to live there? If only a few years, just about nothing will grow fast enough to be REALLY useful, particularly with your shorter growing season as compared to mine.

    If you intend to stay, think majestic hardwoods. Oak would be my choice. I wouldn't be afraid of maples, either. My grandfather's property has several old maples that look just fine, and have lasted through some nasty windstorms. Mostly silver maples, IIRC.

    If you're going for big (eventually) trees, don't plant too many. With 1/2 acre, I'd be loathe to go with more than 2-3 total. Probably more like 2 "anchor pieces", one front, one rear for your yard, then augment with smaller "accent" stuff. Grass doesn't grow very well under the cover of a rich canopy of leaves, which will then compel you to cut them down when they get big.[​IMG]
  6. andrew markworthy

    Sep 30, 1999
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    With your size of garden, you have an agreeably wide choice (I cringe when I see someone plant a willow in a small town garden).

    I'd suggest several things, but above all *don't rush into anything*. Make a mess of the planning in a small garden and it's quite easy to put right. By the time you get on to half an acre if you make a mess, it's a *big* mess.

    (a) Find out what your soil is like, and how waterlogged/dry it's likely to be. This has a crucial inflence on what you plant.

    (b) Textbooks are all very well, but there are things like microclimates, etc, to consider. Look around the neigbourhood and see what appears to grow well.

    (c) What sort of effect are you aiming for in your garden? I assume that you want to plant more than just trees? How will they fit in with your overall scheme? Once you've planted a tree, it's not like putting in a couple of dozen daffodils - you are sort of stuck with it, so make sure the plan is right before you start (investing in a 3D garden planner might be a good idea).

    (d) Find a keen local gardener and ask their advice - they will probably know the local conditions better than anyone.

    (e) Advice that's often given to Brit gardeners is that in taking on a new plot of land, if you can you should wait an entire year and see what's already been planted, what the soil texture is like across the seasons and weathers (e.g. is it waterlogged all winter then a desert all summer?), how the sunlight falls in the garden (and remember planting trees will drastically affect the shade in the garden), etc.

    I must admit I envy you. We've just moved into a new house, with a 1mx5m balcony at the front (south facing) and a 5mx10m rear garden (north facing, no direct sunlight, sloping towards the house) and with waterlogged clay soil). Covering the thing in concrete is the best suggestion we've been able to produce at the moment.

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