Different Trees Can Make Your Yard Awesome!
There are those staple plants that everyone wants. The plants that can survive even the worst of the ‘killer thumbs’. Whether it is trees, shrubs, perennials or even annuals; there are those plants that everyone seems to want. There is a long list of plants that are tough, can withstand a lack of care, and still look fantastic! Why have the same Trees as your neighbors? Give some of these different trees a try.
The Emerald Ash Borer has made its presence very well know in the area (even in my yard). The loss of the Ash Tree is this generations version of Dutch Elm Disease, which destroyed millions of American Elm Trees in the 50’s and 60’s. Due to the loss of all these wonderful trees, everyone wants/needs to replace them. However, if we replace them with a same tree over and over again, we will run into the same problem.
Like I said before: There are a lot of tough plants out there, but for this posting, I will stay with a few shade trees. Please note: This posting is based on USDA Zone 5 and there are always new trees that are being developed.
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) This tree is a seed propagated (every tree is a little different) and is a very unique tree. It is tough, durable and transplants fairly easily. The deeply corrugated bark is a very neat characteristic. The Hackberry has a little more of an irregular habit, but as it matures, it really comes into its own. The lime green leaves of the summer will turn into a light yellow in the fall before they drop.
‘Espresso’ Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus diocus ‘Espresso’) This is a newer variety of the extremely tough Coffee Tree. This variety is seedless, so one does not need to worry about the large seed pods that can develop. The leaf color during the season is a blue-ish – green color, which lasts a long time into the fall months. A young Kentucky Coffee Tree is very ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Tree’ looking. Given a few years (when the trunk is approx. 5″ in diameter) it starts to look impressive, and only gets better from there.
‘Shawnee Brave’ Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’) This variety has been around for several years, but is just now starting to gain in popularity. The Bald Cypress is a very cool plant. When planted on the edge of a pond it will develop ‘knees’ that will come up out of the water. On the other side of the coin, when it is planted in a dryer location, the tree is less prone (if ever) to develop those knees. The Bald Cypress is also a ‘deciduous conifer’. This means it looks like and evergreen with the little needles, but every fall it turn a gold-ish – brown color, and it with lose all the needles. It is a fun prank to play on people the first year it planted in your yard.
Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata) This is a tree that is tough all around. It does well in drought situations and is very tolerant of pollution, which makes it great for city settings. The bark on older trunks has a little bit of an ‘exfoliating’ or pealing character. This tree looks similar to an Elm in leaf shape. Pests and disease are a minor problem with this tree as well. One down side: it can be hard to find sometimes.
These trees (and others) are great options for any yard. My only caution: If you don’t site a tree properly it will never perform. I’ll continue with later blogs where I will list out some other plants that are great options for Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.