Skip to main content

Plant a Tree…or Three!

Jun 06, 2013 02:45AM ● By Erin Frisch


Summer is finally here. Maybe you’re considering having some landscaping done in your yard. Every kind of cultivated tree has characteristics suitable for some use—shade, privacy, flowers, fruit. Your best bet is to choose a variety native to North America and hardy enough to do well in our four-season climate with its wide temperature range. Exotic trees are beautiful, but they tend to have a difficult time surviving in New England’s soil and climate. Before selecting a tree, you’ll want to make sure that it matches your needs and the size of the space you have selected for it. Take into consideration your location and growing zone, your soil type, the expected height and width of the mature tree compared to its surroundings (roofs, electrical lines, etc.), the tree’s growth rate, the form it will take (upright, round, or spreading), and the variety’s proven resistance to infections and infestations.

In general, you will want to choose a fast-growing tree. Choose a slow grower only if you are sure you’ll be in your home for a number of years; otherwise, there is a good chance you will move to another house before the tree has a chance to reach maturity. Trees sold in nurseries are generally hybrids; that increases their resistance to infestations and diseases. If you’re looking to add value to your home and beauty to your landscape, consider the following trees.

Willow Hybrids

Willow hybrids include the Weeping Willow and the Curly or Corkscrew Willow. These trees are the fastest-growing privacy screens available, growing at an average rate of 7 feet per year and reaching 35 to 40 feet at maturity. They are also dense trees that grow outward and can reach a 35-foot spread. Aside from privacy, these trees provide shade and grow well in a variety of soils and climates, and do well with full sun exposure. Willows have a graceful and refined look with light-green to grayish-green leaves.

Leyland Cypress

This evergreen has a columnar shape and is a great tree to use as a perimeter border around your yard. Planted in a row, these trees grow very quickly (about three feet per year) to reach heights of 60 to 70 feet and widths of around 15 feet. As they grow together, they make a wonderful, living green fence with their soft, feathery blue-green needles, and noble pyramidal outline. These trees are often used for Christmas trees in the Southern United States. Drought tolerant, they do well in full sunlight and in a variety of climates and soils, including acidic, alkaline, rich, sandy, well drained, and clay soils.

River Birch

Birch trees are considered beautiful for their papery, exfoliating bark. Layers peel away to reveal various shades underneath, ranging from orange to gray to lavender. The River Birch is an ornamental tree that does well in both wet and dry conditions and looks spectacular in the winter. These trees grow 40 to 70 feet high with a 40 to 60 foot spread and can grow at a rate of around 2 feet per year. They like full sunlight and acidic soil. If your yard has alkaline soil, river birches aren’t going to do well. These trees bloom in early spring and provide shade in addition to beauty.

Trees are an investment in your home and property, so be sure to shop at a reputable local nursery. Describe your light and soil conditions, and what you hope to achieve with your new tree, whether it’s privacy, light shade, or a border. You’ll be guided to the right choice and provided with all the information you need to make your investment pay off.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Image's free newsletter to catch every headline