Trees – Trees – Trees

Leif has had three of his newspaper articles published in the Northfield News in September dealing with trees – the growing of trees, the value of trees to your property especially for re-sale value and the seasonal interest of trees.

From September 1st ….

“For the second consecutive season a long dry period created stress for many landscape plants, including even fairly well established trees. Drought stress can be cumulative over time, and it is valuable to take note of which varieties perform well in tough times.

Good trees are an important asset for any property, and usually a significant investment. Picking varieties that can handle stress and still look good and remain healthy can protect and enhance your investment in a piece of real estate and add to its beauty, grace and charm.

As the dry spell wore on this summer, I began watching trees more closely. Oak trees that have had several years or more to become established generally looked good all summer. The growth habit of developing a deep and strong tap root helps oaks tap deep moisture sources, and weather violent storms.

Oaks also usually maintain a nice deep green color, and before long attain a lovely shape, and with the passage of years a stately stature. As our climate warms, Oaks are likely to be star performers in our landscapes. You just have to make the decision to plant one, and get past the stereotype that Oaks are such slow growers. With occasional watering and some modest fertilization, an Oak can become a nice shade tree in just 5 to 10 years.

Good Oak varieties for southern Minnesota are Red Oak, Northern Pin Oak, Bur Oak, Swamp White Oak and a lovely hybrid of Bur and Swamp White. Heritage Oak has looked very good (another hybrid), and for a narrow crown tree you may want to try Regal Prince Oak, which I have observed doing well in Northfield area landscapes.

Hybrid Elm varieties that have been bred and tested for excellent resistance to Dutch Elm disease also performed very well in drought conditions. It’s time people got over the notion that you can’t plant Elms. Over 40 years of dedicated research has brought forward many excellent varieties that won’t fall victim to Dutch Elm Disease, and as I have watched these trees grow to larger sizes in the landscape, they have impressed me with their pleasing vase shape.

Growing quickly into good size trees capable of giving nice shade, I’ve noticed good deep green color on most Elm varieties. Elms can grow in a very wide variety of soil types and site conditions. This makes them a good choice for almost any landscape, and fairly good drought tolerance is an added plus.

Hybrid Elm varieties I’ve seen doing well are Accolade, Triumph, New Horizon, Danada Charm, Vanguard and Discovery. We’ve heard good reports on Princeton Elm, but this variety will have very limited availability for several years. The other varieties I mentioned should be available now, and more good varieties are currently in research and production phases.

I also noticed hybrid Maples doing quite well in the dry conditions. Varieties that do well in Minnesota are Autumn Blaze, Marmo, Autumn Fantasy, Sienna and Celebration.

Planting tree varieties that can prosper in cycles of drought will not only please the eye, but add value to your property, and reduce maintenance. Good luck planting.”

The article from September 15th discusses the value of your landscaping to your home’s overall value… read more…

“In a tough real estate market all sellers of real estate would love to have an advantage over the competition. Selling your particular property quickly and at a reasonably good price can net you thousands of extra dollars at closing time, but you will need some kind of extra benefit for the buyer in order to receive a good offer.

No matter how square feet and dollars and cents pencil out, buying a home is still a very emotional process. For a house to become a home it has to feel right to the buyer. Curb appeal may be just the thing that makes your property appear to be a place the prospective buyer can call home.

In addition to an attractive structural design, and a well maintained exterior, the landscaping which embraces the house can often be the element that gives a home a “homey” feel. Landscaping that compliments a house with beauty and grace while creating outdoor spaces that are practical and inviting can be the very thing that enables a buyer to picture themselves comfortable and happy for years to come. If this is what a potential buyer thinks, you are very likely to receive a good offer for your property.

Over the years I have closely observed the progression of houses in new developments located in former farm fields. These wide open neighborhoods have time and again provided stark contrasts in the way modest investments in landscaping can improve the appearance and curb appeal of a new home. If the design is well conceived and the plants receive the care they need, the house will in just a few year’s time change from starkly new to gracefully inviting.

On the other hand, if little or nothing is done for landscaping, or if the landscaping is poorly designed, or poorly installed and maintained, a house can change from a brand new look to shabby in the same few short years. The contrast between the house with good landscaping and poor landscaping or none, becomes more and more evident with each passing of the seasons.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money to get good results. A good design can be simple or elaborate, yet even a design based on the beauty of simplicity can turn your house into a place that is inviting to the eye and the imagination. For this reason, good professional help with the creation of a landscape design may be one of the most cost effective investments you make in your property. A good design can make your house an outstanding value when it comes time to put it up for sale, which can result in a nice pocketbook payoff.

For budget reasons, most houses get landscaped over a period of years. With a good master plan you can do some of the landscaping each year for several years, and before you know it, things are looking really good. I recommend planting the trees first.

Trees take longer to become well established than shrubs and perennials, and also require a few more years to reach a desirable size, so plant them first. In this way, time will work in your favor, creating beautiful trees, shade, privacy and a more mature look for the property.

Don’t be afraid to plant smaller trees if your budget is tight. The important thing is to get them in early and let time be your ally. Try to plant different varieties, so if some dread tree disease comes to our area, you won’t lose all your trees.

Good landscaping makes living in your home much more enjoyable, and it is likely to move your property to the head of the line when it’s time to sell. Plant, enjoy, prosper.”

The final tree article in September – from the 22nd – shares some advice on fall colors and seasonal interest.

Pleasing colors in the landscape can be enjoyed almost year around with the right mix of plant selections. As the seasons change different plants offer different types of color in the garden, and autumn colors are obviously some of the best of the whole year.

Maples are clearly America’s favorites for beautiful fall colors. In recent years versatile hybrid maples have grown in popularity, with lovely shades of red, orange, yellow and burgundy. These hybrids of red maple and silver maple grow quickly into handsome trees, and will hold up well over the years with timely pruning to improve structure and strength.

Autumn Blaze Maple is the most widely known of these maple hybrids, with a Minnesota selection named Sienna Glen rapidly gaining recognition as a shapely and refined hybrid. Autumn Blaze Maple consistently colors up to a glowing reddish orange while Sienna displays a mix of yellow, orange and red.

Autumn Fantasy Hybrid Maple also is a strong grower as is its close cousin Marmo maple. Autumn Fantasy colors up in the mid fall period with shades of burgundy highlighted by yellows and reds. Marmo Maple produces a large and shapely head, and in southern Minnesota has developed predominantly yellow fall colors.

Other maples that splash the landscape with bright fall color are Sugar Maples (hard maple) and Red Maples. Sugar maples grow at modest rates into strong, beautiful and durable trees, with a beautiful mix of yellow, orange and red fall colors. Varieties that have done well in Southern Minnesota are Majesty, Fall Fiesta, Green Mountain and our native sugar maples.

(…. the beautiful orange/red of the Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple – photo to left)

The Red Maple family is found growing wild from the Twin Cities north to the border, usually in mixed forest of Spruce, Pine, Birch, Aspen, Oak and Sugar Maple. Growth rates are moderate, and fall colors range all through the yellow, orange and red hues. Red Sunset, Burgundy Belle, Autumn Spire and Northwood’s have shown good results when planted in acid soils. Avoid planting in alkaline soils.

For yellow fall color consider birch, Thornless Honeylocust, Seedless Ash, Norway Maple and Ginkgo. A balance of varieties in the landscape offers good visuals as well as ecosystem diversity.

Oaks should always be considered. While growth rates are moderate, their excellence as trees of beauty, grace and strength makes a few extra years of waiting for a large tree well worth the small extra time investment. Bur Oak is the most versatile of the Oaks for our area, able to grow in most any soil, but lacking in good fall color. Northern Red Oak and Northern Pin Oak show the best rusty red fall color with a lovely pyramidal shape. Northern Pin Oak grows more slowly, but can tolerate some alkaline soil, which is often an issue in our area. Swamp White Oak is excellent in acid soils, but a beautiful hybrid of Bur Oak and Swamp White Oak is able to grow into a beautiful tree in a wider variety of soil types.

Plant a selection of different tree varieties to enjoy the full range of beautiful fall colors as well as variation throughout the rest of the year. Planting conditions should be excellent into mid-November.