Trees are an important part of any landscape. Their leaves remove carbon dioxide from and release fresh oxygen back into the atmosphere. Their branches provide cool, refreshing shade on a hot summer day. Their trunks give rise to resting spots to tired birds and homes to needing squirrels. But most importantly, mature, stately trees add value to our property. With the arrival of fall comes the season for planting trees. If you're in the market and looking for a new tree, here are five good choices for our area. If properly planted and care for, all five will be long-lived and relatively insect and disease free.
¢ Kentucky coffeetree is an excellent specimen tree that is underplanted and should be used more in our community. It grows 55 to 65 feet tall and wide. It is a moderately fast grower and has an irregular vase shape when mature. It does best in full sun and will tolerate a wide range of soil textures and pHs.
¢ Lacebark elm is a good replacement for the American elm. It is colorful and has showy bark. It is an excellent shade, street or park tree that grows 40 to 50 feet high and wide. When mature, it has a rounded vase shape. Lacebark elm grows rapidly in either sun or part shade. It, too, is adapted to a wide range of soils and soil pHs.
¢ Swamp white oak is a good specimen plant for low swampy areas that have heavy clay soils. It is a moderately fast grower reaching 50 to 60 feet tall and wide. When mature, it has an upright oval shape. It prefers to grow in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Swamp white oak is an underplanted tree that does well as a shade, street or park tree.
¢ Bur oak is the granddaddy of the oak trees. Reaching a majestic 70 to 100 feet tall and 65 to 80 feet wide, give this tree adequate room for maximum growth. The bur oak is a moderate grower that has an oval shape when mature. It grows best in full sun and does not like competition from other trees. It is one of our strongest trees and can tolerate the extremes of Kansas weather and soil.
¢ Shumard oak is a great replacement for pin oak. It is an excellent street, park or specimen tree that does not fall victim to iron chlorosis. Shumard oaks grow 60 to 80 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. It is a fast grower, especially when in full sun. It can grow in almost any soil type and will do well even at low soil pHs.
Remember, proper planting is the key to long-term success. Dig the planting hole only as deep as the root ball but twice as wide. Do not add soil amendments, and back fill with the original soil and water well. Make sure to remove all twine, tags and other materials from around the trunk and root ball. Finish by applying 2-3 inches of fresh clean bark mulch in a ring at least 3-4 feet wide.