Saturday, August 29, 2015 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Selecting trees for the Home Landscape

Choosing fast-growing trees to fill new home area

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Q: I have just moved into a new home in an area with no trees. What would be some fairly fast-growing shade trees? R.W., Sand Springs.

A: This is a common question, especially with new homeowners whose homes were built on what was once open treeless prairie or pastureland.

Trees are commonly rated as slow, medium and fast growers. Their rate of growth is dependent not only on the genetic makeup of the tree but also the type of soil, amount of sunlight, availability of water and overall care the trees received.

As you start out with this project of planting new shade trees, and once the varieties are decided upon, always opt for the largest trees you can afford and are physically able to plant — then plant them correctly.

Unfortunately, many of the fast-growing trees are “weak-wooded” and tolerate wind and ice storms less well than others. Some of these have additional issues, making them less appealing. In this category are box elder, silver maple, weeping willow, Bradford pear, mimosa, mulberry, honeylocust, cottonwood and other poplars.

A few of the rapid growers have positive assets, which outweigh their negatives. Some of these are October glory and Caddo red maples, arborvitae, river birch, dawn redwood, tulip tree, Nuttall oak and lacebark elm.

The Caddo maple is a native of Oklahoma and is one of the most heat- and drought-resistant maples available. The dawn redwood is a rapidly growing deciduous tree (up to 50 feet in 20 years), which was once thought extinct. It looks and behaves similarly to a baldcypress. It is very hardy. Bald cypress and dawn redwood trees are great choices for a landscape.

Others in the medium- to fast-growing category which might be good choices for your new yard are water oak, Shumard oak, sawtooth oak, common hackberry, Japanese zelkova, Kentucky coffeetree and Chinese pistache. There are some varieties of ash trees that would normally be suggested, but a destructive ash insect, emerald ash borer, seems to be headed our way. It has destroyed most ash trees in areas where it is located.

Among the oaks mentioned above, the Nuttall is a good choice for a fast-growing shade tree. It is a variety of red oak, similar to a pin oak. However, unlike pin oaks, it thrives in a wider diversity of soil types and pH (acidity) ranges. It’s native to the south and is normally found in wet bottomland and heavy clay soils.

The above suggestions are just a brief list of what would be a good tree recommendation, there are many other acceptable ones. Consider going to the Master Gardener website and look at selecting trees in the “Lawn and Garden Help” section. At the same time, check out the information on “how to plant a tree.”

Garden tips
Always follow directions on the labels of both synthetic and natural pesticide products. Labels will always list where the product may be used and which pest it is certified to cover. If you spray pesticides, do it early in the morning or late in the evening after bees have returned to their colony.

If your tomatoes are too tall and gangly, now is a good time to prune the top of the plants by as much as 1/3 to ½, depending on the plant. This will stimulate new limb growth and new fruit production heading into fall.

Reseeding fescue is best done from mid-September through mid-October. If you plan on reseeding, begin scouting for good seed. There is no “best” variety. Purchase a fescue blend of three or more varieties, with or without Kentucky bluegrass. Read the label on the seed bag. A good blend will have 0.01 percent or less of undesirable “other crop” seeds.


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