Selecting Tree Species

Clients have been inquiring about what they should replace their dead ash (or other kind of) tree with or what trees to plant at their new/new-to-them home. Extension can help with this decision! We encourage diversity within landscapes. We encourage people to plant different types of trees. We encourage people to plant trees that are not the same within your yard and not all the same within the block/neighborhood.

Many choose tree species for the blooms, fruit, nuts or lack of them. Some choose tree species decisions are based on if the tree is deciduous (loses leaves) or a conifer (a few conifers are deciduous or lose needles). If you see a tree species you like somewhere, inquire as to what it is – it is a complement to who planted it!

If you have a site in mind, remember to use the mature size and think if it will be a problem: up high (overhead powerlines), down below ground (buried lines), and around (nearby specimens and will it block a view). Most importantly, is the site compatible for a tree species to be planted (drainage, soil type, ph). A soil test maybe needed.

Due to Emerald Ash Borer, ISU Extension and Outreach created a list of Alternatives to Ash Trees http://www.iowatreepests.com/documents/Recommended_Trees_Iowa.pdf this list has height and spread – which can be very important if you are replacing within an established landscape.

The Iowa DNR has a publication Rethinking Maples that is a great resource of tree species information. https://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/forestry/urban/RethinkingMaple.pdf The title is in reference to the fact maple trees are one third of the tree species planted within Iowa communities. Without an effort in planting diverse tree species, if a maple disease or insect occurs; the impact will be equal to the current impact from ash we are currently seeing.

The Missouri Botanical Garden plant finder is a great source for more information on tree species (height & soil requirements especially – but also disease and insect) – they have information on most of the species planted in the Midwest. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/plantfinder/plantfindersearch.aspx .

If you are wanting to plant multiple trees, the Iowa Forest Nursery is a great source for young trees. Young trees, especially the bareroot size, recover from the shock of transplanting easier. https://www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/Forestry/State-Forest-Nursery The trees are sold in multiples with the packets having multiple species.

If you have the budget, inquire about getting unique species. Nurseries who sell lots of trees, can usually get different ones than lower volume retailers and the box stores carry. To stretch your budget, smaller trees are usually cheaper to purchase.

Spring is a popular time to plant trees; but they can be planted in late summer early fall also. Extension and Iowa DNR have information online about selecting, planting and care of trees. New trees need to be watered well the entire growing season, for a few years after planting. During a drought, more watering maybe needed.

It is recommended to mulch trees (normally 3” deep to the dripline, with mulch pulled back 6” from the trunk) for retaining water, weed control and to reduce the risk of lawn mower damage. If you have other horticulture questions, please contact Suzette Striegel, Horticulturist at the Mahaska County Extension office., 212 North I Street; Oskaloosa IA; email striegel@iastate.edu; phone 641-673-5841.

Posted by on Jul 1 2020. Filed under Clubs and Organizations, Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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