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Looking for some trees

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Looking for some trees

Postby john_titor » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:33 pm

Why we planted arborvitae in Wisconsin is subject for a different thread but the same storm that bent them over, finished the lilac as well. I would like to plant some trees in my smallish back yard that would not cause me additional work. Any suggestions?
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Meade » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:42 pm

john_titor wrote:Any suggestions?

Sure. I suggest you hire a landscape architect or designer.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Dairylander » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:17 pm

I like yews as a replacement for arborvitae.
But the key for any small tree surviving heavy snow is pruning.
You have to trim them to establish and maintain a strong central leader right up the middle. It's the multiple, co-dominant leaders that get spread open and split by snow load.
You can get true expert help on the GardenWeb forums.
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/mwgard/
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby snoqueen » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:33 pm

Many but not all lilacs sprout from the roots. If you liked your lilac bush, you can probably cut it way back and it'll restore itself. My own lilacs have gotten smushed by the snow more than once, and they came back just fine after the bent-over branches were cut away. It's cheaper than digging them out and replacing them.

If you leave some of the central upright branches, you'll even have lilacs this spring. Just don't cut away the tips of the branches, which is where the flower buds are waiting.

Ideally, you prune them every few years taking out older, thicker branches and leaving the springy smaller ones that won't bow over so badly under heavy snow.

If you don't want a lilac any more, consider some of the native shrubs, which are sturdy under our weather conditions. You can see many of them growing in the Arboretum -- ask at the desk and they will offer you materials and information. I like both Red Osier and Serviceberry in my own yard, along with a particular Viburnum whose name I forgot. None of those smush down at all.

You have a wide variety of choices according to time of bloom, growth habit, autumn foliage, birds they attract, shade/sun preference, moisture and soil preference, and much more. It's impossible to tell you what would be best in your yard without knowing the conditions you have.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby fennel » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:51 pm

It was a brutal winter even for carefully maintained trees, particuarly cedar and arborvitae. I saw plenty of other conifers with damage, too. Generally, these fare well with heavy snows, but the unusually heavy and clingy snow which then froze into a weighty plaster of torment was just too much for a lot of trees.

I really like arborvitae, but I like yews better. But yews are muy pricey.

As a kid, I participated in neighborhood competitions where we ran through a certain hedge of yews. As the yews grew older and knitted together, it took more velocity and mass to burst through, and since this paralleled our growth, we managed to keep up for a while. Eventually, as teenagers, we were firmly rebuffed by the hedge – no matter how much of a head of steam we built up. No damage done, though. I wouldn't want to try that with a hedge of juniper.

(By the way, we spent a fair amount of time this winter running around and swatting burdened trees with a broom – several times a day during some storms. That seemed to help.)
Last edited by fennel on Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Ducatista » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:05 pm

If you're in a reading mood, the UW-Extension Horticulture site has a bunch of tree selection articles. You can contact your county Extension office through the site, too. Paid for by Meade's tax dollars!
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Madsci » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:43 pm

Sorry, this maybe a bit blunt. But yews are yucky. They may take abuse but are totally ugly. They may be cute when young but grow into ugly beasts.

I like Snoqueens idea of using native shrubs or small trees. Arborvitae are native but may not take the snow in the city. Especially if they are close to buildings. Ours in the countryside are fine because they get plenty of wind so the snow doesn't stick and bend them down.
So maybe a conifer or evergreen which collects snow is not your best choice. Our neighbor in Madison had two white spruce that did well in the back of his yard. We have one of its offspring growing on our farm.
The red osier dogwood is an attractive small tree/shrub. It has red bark, so looks good in winter, the foliage turns nice green/red in fall and it produces berries for birds. It may need some pruning it the city.
I just got my order of 24 trees today, arborvitae, juniper, popular, and sugar maple (which don't grow well in the city due to pollution).

So may choices not enough time, good luck. Experiment!
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Mean Scenester » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:44 am

I'm with Madsci. Fuck yews.

Arborvitae are only a slight step up, IMO. If you're looking for something more akin to a shrub or bush, I second the dogwood recommendation, though the drought did some real damage to mine last summer (doesn't really matter as it's put up new shoots). Witch-hazel is nice, though the critters like to nosh on the young branches over winter so they require some fencing at that point. Also, heed snoqueen's advice. I'd be very surprised if the heavy snow really did your lilacs in. Cutting them way back may not be the prettiest solution, but they'll come back like gangbusters and in a few years you'll never know the difference.

If you're looking for trees outside the shrub category, aspens are nice and fairly hearty in this climate once established. In the right conditions they propagate into a nice little clump you can cultivate (and or transplant, if you're lucky).
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Meade » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:21 am

Mean Scenester wrote:I'm with Madsci. Fuck yews.

Yews too.
Image
Taxus
Taxus
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby john_titor » Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:34 pm

Thank you for all of the replies! I have read some of your posts on gardening in the past and I was happy to see who I remembered as gardeners chime in. I was really looking for what works locally. You have given me some good ideas and places to look. I like the idea of the Arboretum.

Trimming the arborvitae makes sense. Too bad my wife took the shears to them last summer and gave them all a poodle cut. I did contemplate going out and getting the snow off but it was cold. And snowy.The lilac was ancient. I believe it should be laid to rest.

We have a small fenced-in yard. I am looking for something to cover up the fence and not get too big. The Aspen sounds promising as does the Serviceberry. But berries? Do they get all over and squish when you cut the yard? We have a couple of tall cedars. I think an evergreen would get too big and fat and boring.

Off to the extension link. Thanks again.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby snoqueen » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:43 pm

I think the Serviceberry is my favorite yard plant ever. They come in different sizes: fruit-tree size, hedge size. They make little white flowers, and then dark blue berries in June, and I have tasted them. They're sweet but without much other flavor. In the fall the plant gets red and orange leaves.

You'd have to get out there early to pick any berries, though. The robins are crazy about them and gobble them all up as soon as they're formed. Then the funny part starts. The berries seem to be fermenting, or else they contain some bird drug. The robins all get drunk.

They flop around and can't fly and pass out on the grass. I've walked right up to them and they open one eye and flap one wing, but they're totally out of it. They don't seem all that distressed. Mostly they just lie there and sleep it off.

At first I was horrified and thought they'd all gotten into some poison. But in an hour or so they all flew off, and once the berries were gone (which is just a few days) they never get drunk again. Not until next year.

Don't worry about the berries falling all over your car or whatever, though. Not a chance.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Athena » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:20 pm

I'll recommend the Jungs bare root room for buying whatever tree or shrub you decide on. Buying bare root is cheaper and better for the tree than buying a potted one later in the season. You can buy it now and leave it in your garage until we get a couple of dry days so the soil isn't as wet as it is now. Then soak it overnight and plant it with the root flare right at the level of the soil.

Dogwoods are such pretty shrubs during the winter and if their branches break it won't really hurt them since the new branches are the ones with the best color. I'll also recommend a cherry tree if you want an actual tree. They can be had on semi-dwarf rootstock and pruned to keep them small. The birds will eat all the cherries unless you net them so there's no mess. And the flowers are so pretty in the spring.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Detritus » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:33 pm

snoqueen wrote:I think the Serviceberry is my favorite yard plant ever.

I second Sno on the serviceberry. I had one in my old house on East Johnson as the centerpiece in a clump of pagoda dogwoods. One of my favorite things about that house.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby fennel » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:54 pm

I'm glad y'all reminded me of serviceberry. I need to find some corner now to plant some. I just planted a sexy little juniper. It's nape extends from the soil in a way that evokes 60s Japanese cinema. Except that it's most certainly not in black & white.
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Re: Looking for some trees

Postby Detritus » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:44 pm

fennel wrote:I'm glad y'all reminded me of serviceberry. I need to find some corner now to plant some. I just planted a sexy little juniper. It's nape extends from the soil in a way that evokes 60s Japanese cinema. Except that it's most certainly not in black & white.

I know exactly what you mean. And that kind of disturbs me.
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