|Here’s the scenario that started the tree week at gardenmama.com. A couple has bought a home in south Mississippi and the western exposure is hot. They want to plant shade trees but need something that will grow extremely fast so did some research online and found Eucalyptus Trees that the writer says will grow 2-5 feet in one year. Is this a good option? Yes, and there are other good choices, too. Wax myrtle, ligustrum, and some hollies and magnolias make my list for their tough character and good looks as well as relatively rapid growth. For a multi-trunked native tree, nothing beats wax myrtle for sun or shade. Likewise ligustrum can make shade or grow in it and will soon be 10-15 feet tall. I like ‘Nellie Stevens’ holly for obvious reasons, but other selections with similar looks will grow a bit faster. Check out Little Gem and Sweet Bay magnolias for great leaves and outstanding fragrance.
I am a big fan of planted screens, especially those that are wide enough to accommodate trees and shrubs and so produce a nice view from the house or side yard at the same time. If you have room to make it 8-10 feet wide, you'll have room for a row of daylilies across the front, too. I like a combination of trees because it's more attractive and also less likely to succumb if one type has a problem. Look at trees including that eucalyptus, red cedar, green ash, and bald cypress. Here are a few more notes about two of those trees that you might not know as much about.
Green Ash (Fraxinus Pennsyvalnica) averages 50'x30' at maturity. Fast growing, long-lived native whose flowers aren't especially exciting. But the fruit, winged samaras, look nifty and attract wildlife, and the yellow fall color rewards reliably. Deciduous green ash grows well in a wide range of soils and rabidly develops into a dense oval for excellent summer shade.
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) doesn't have to be planted near water to thrive. Any full sun site will do for this deciduous native conifer whose fast first ten years produce a true cone-shaped shade tree. Mature trees average 50'x25' and each assumes a highly individualistic form. Emerald City green new leaves dazzle in the spring and warm red brown in fall.
Here’s another tree question: I have 2 River Birch trees and a Sycamore tree in my back yard that looks like they are dying. These trees are 30 or more years old. What should I do? Trees this age with fast-developing problems need professional help, especially if they could harm people or structures if they fall over. Take pictures now for your own information and to share with the horticulturist at your favorite local garden center, a licensed and bonded arborist or forester in your area, or your county agent. Ask for a site visit and if the trees need to be pruned or (sadly) removed, do it now. Next week, more about trees!