ADDING COLOR TO YOUR GARDEN WITH TREES – There are many trees with leaves that change from shades of green in the summer to sizzling hues of red, orange, and yellow in the fall. These trees are a good investment as they set your landscape on fire more and more each autumn as they grow and mature over the years.
When deciding on the trees you’d like to plant on your property, it’s important to consider how large it will be at maturity, its hardiness, and what zone it grows best in. A local arboretum is a good place to start if you are unsure, and you can also check out this temperature zone map of North America. Most trees like lots of sunlight, so place a new tree where it will not be shaded by buildings or larger trees.
Large trees such as oak, maple, and ash require 65 feet between their trunks. They should all additionally be planted at least 30 feet from your house and 10 feet away from any paved areas. This is to prevent roots from disturbing foundations or the pavement. Medium sized trees such as poplar and birch can be planted 15-20 feet away from homes. Small trees such as redbud, dogwood, most Japanese maples, and serviceberry can be planted 10 feet apart and 8 feet from your home.
Why and What Trees Change Color?
As the summer comes to an end, the days get shorter and the nights cool down, trees are signaled to stop producing chlorophyll to prepare for hibernation. As chlorophyll deteriorates, other pigments – for instance carotin and anthocyanin—are able to revel their fiery colors. Carotin is responsible for the bright yellows and oranges seen in Birch, Ash, Villa Taranto, Sugar Maple, Ginkgo, Aconitifolium and Poplar, just to name a few. While the red pigment of anthocyanin, which is triggered by cool nights (below 45) and warm sunny days, is seen on Oak, Dogwood, Swamp Maple, Crimson Queen and Bloodgood.
Planting and Deciding on Your Tree
Here are a few of the most popular varieties to help you decide on a tree that will bring beautiful greens to your yard in the summer and fiery golden hues in the fall.
To plant your tree, you’ll want to start by digging a hole slightly deeper and three times wider than the pot, and placing your tree in the center of the hole. Backfill the hole with native soil and generously water the area around the tree. Press down the around the tree gently but provide enough pressure to get out any air bubbles. After this step add more soil and water. Baby trees require frequent watering for at least a year so they can develop good root structures. Water the surrounding area of the tree rather than directly on the tree to encourage new wide root growth.
One thing to remember – if you plan to plant your trees in the fall be sure to stake your tree and wrap the trunks of young trees to provide support against winds and damage from animals.
Oak trees grow naturally across most of North America surviving well into zone 3. There are over 600 species of oak with many growing into large, long living trees. Oak trees are able to be planted in any season of the year, even during the winter when it is dormant and are known to grow quite quickly.
Birch Trees are a popular choice with their distinctive bark and small fluttering leaves. Birch are sensitive to soil condition resulting in many birch trees not making it to maturity. Over millions of years birch trees have evolved to flourish in a certain type of soil. As a birch tree owner, it is our job to create soil that would be similar to its natural environment. Adding mycorrhizal fungi to the soil around the roots of your birch is the best thing you can do. The mycorrhizal fungi pass on minerals and moisture that is required for the tree’s growth and development.
Japanese Maple- Dissectum Atropurpureum
If you are looking for a small sized tree this might be the one for you. This classic variety of Japanese Maple has feathery red/purple leaves that become a bright crimson every fall. This tree thrives well in zones 6-9 with partial shade and moist but well drained soil. You can expect this tree to grow eight feet tall and wide.
Japanese Maple- Aconitifolium
The Aconitifolium is a fall favorite. The leaves are sharply defined and open up green in the spring and turn shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. These trees are a spectacular sight. If you are looking for a small sized tree growing about 10 feet tall and wide and in zones 5-8, this is probably the perfect tree for your fall display. The Aconitifolium grows best in partial shade in moist, well drained soil.
If you have space but not sure if you have much of a green thumb, the Ginkgo might just be the tree for you. The Ginkgo is nearly a pest-free tree and is very strong, making it quite resistant to drought, pollution and storm damage. Young Ginkgo’s are very open but as they mature they form large dense round canopies which create great shaded areas. These trees are able to tolerate most types of soil. They grow to an astonishing 75 feet or more at a slow but steady rate in zones 3 though 8. The tree displays a vibrant yellow in the fall but the leaves fall quickly making the spectacular show short but sweet.
The Ginkgo is actually known as the “living fossil tree” as the tree’s genetic line goes back into the Triassic period. The Ginkgo is closely related to species that are thought to have lived for over 200 million years.
Planting a tree is a wonderful and beautiful way to add color to your garden in the fall and all season of the year. A mature leafy tree also produces enough oxygen annually as ten people breathe in every year. Trees also act as a natural filter cleaning the air we breathe. Read though top ten reasons why trees are important and consider planting one yourself.
Don’t forget that trees, like other plants in the garden require care and attention and you should learn how to prune a tree, so that it does remain healthy.
Cheers to a great summer and a happy planting season!