If you want more shade and need another tree, it’s true there’s more of a push to sell trees in the spring, when many stores temporarily sell plants but nurseries sell trees year-round and most get new stock in the fall since that’s a better time to plant trees.
Some people just want a tree and won’t put a lot of thought into the type, but my experience suggests it’s better learn something about the tree to know if it fits your willingness and ability to care for it. As such, you want to consider your yard space, how you plan on watering, and how big a tree is big enough. For real shade its best to have what I would term small- to medium-sized trees, which are in the 20- to 40-foot height range. Trees smaller than that are more for show. Increasingly, the small to medium trees are looking to be the best option for planting in our area.
Some good small to medium trees include the goldenrain tree, which grows 20 to 40 feet high by 15 to 25 feet wide. In the summer it has clusters of yellow flowers that turn into a papery fruit and look like a paper lantern. Many people find the flowers to be nice, but it can be messy when they start dropping off the tree. Many of these trees grow in front of the shops along Main Street, however, if you grow these in your yard I am sure they will be fuller and more robust than those dealing with the issues of being street trees.
Another interesting tree species is hawthorne’s with the cockspur hawthorne growing up to 30 feet, with attractive white flowers and good bronze to red fall color. You might want to look for the thornless variety. Another is the Washington hawthorne, which can grow to 30 feet high with a 25-foot spread. It has white flowers, reddish purple leaves in the spring that turn dark green and has good fall color. As an added bonus, the small red fruits are enjoyed by song birds.
Then there is the Eastern redbud, which can grow to 30 feet high by 35 feet wide. It has flowers that can be reddish purple to rosy pink and also varieties with white flowers. The redbud has heart-shaped leaves and can grow both in full sun or some light shade.
The hedge maple is one of the few maples that is tolerant of high pH soils, which means it’s less likely to get iron chlorosis. Its 25 to 35 foot height and similar width makes it a good tree for our area in terms of overall water needs. It’s been used as a hedge in some areas, so it could be pruned into a large deciduous hedge (meaning it loses it leaves in the fall) but of course you can just let it be a tree.
People regularly plant trees and then hope to get healthy growth with limited water, which usually doesn’t work long-term. If you truly don’t feel a tree will provide more for you, your family and community than the water it takes to make it healthy, please find something else to grow. A tree that never reaches its potential or is truly healthy is the bigger shame and since more of these trees will die sooner rather than later, that’s a true waste of water. The bottom line for planting trees is that if you want success and aren’t just incredibly lucky you must understand the needs of your trees and determine whether you can provide the care for them to thrive.
Thought for the day: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. – Chinese Proverb
For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.