i’ve got trees on the brain. not only because spring has sprung and oh my, how beautiful it is. just a scant few years ago i could only point and say, “ooooo, pretty” at the spectacular show. now (after due diligence) i can tell the difference between the blooming display of a plum, redbud, cherry and tulip tree. normally (unless you’re in the landscaping business) this means nothing besides ‘ooooo, pretty’, unless you have to replace the giant maple in your backyard that fell victim to a windstorm.
it’s a bigger deal than you might think.
a tree, unlike a shrub sticks around for a looooooooonng time. you have to make a commitment to a tree. none of that ‘let’s try this’ of an annual. you need to plant a tree, you’d better think long and hard about how big the tree is going to get, whether it can survive/thrive in your soil and shade/sun conditions and frankly, whether you can stand to look at it for the next 20 – 30 years. face it, some trees are just ugly, some too finicky and others smell really bad. then there’s the whole raging debate about planting specimens that are not native… it can be exhausting.
because the exiting maple was about 75 feet high, it lent cool shade to the backyard not to mention screening from the neighbors. it also sucked all the nutrients out of the soil and made it hard to grow much in the yard (at some point we just reclassify weeds as indigenous ground cover). no matter what we plant, it won’t replace the shade, but we will be able to get some degree of screening from the neighbors.
besides shade, screening, heartiness and lack of stinkiness, requirements were also three seasons of good color.
after consulting with our landscaper, the choices were narrowed to (drum roll, please) fringe tree, red rocket crape myrtle, redbud forest pansy and kousa dogwood. (feel free to consult google)
the dogwood was rejected out of hand because we already have a dogwood in the front of the house. (i like variety. and C and i planted that dogwood ourselves not understanding how heavy a tree is and how big a hole you have to dig to plant a tree and without a garden cart to drag the thing from the car to the hole and having to use l’s tiny plastic wagon which bowed under the weight). the fringe tree is nice, but it’s a slow grower and more like a large shrub. that left the redbud and crape myrtle. both are hearty, beautiful bloomers, good fall color, fast growers and can be bought in 6 foot heights (and could easily add another 2 feet in one growing season). almost instant screening. still, neither one would ever fill up as much space as the old maple. (thankfully we have another huge maple on the other side of the back yard)
i know, this is far too much discussion for something as simple as replacing a tree. but really, we’ve all seen properties where there’s a haphazard approach and it looks like a mess. i don’t like messes. not to mention that the point is that we thoroughly enjoy our back yard and use it extensively throughout the year.
so here’s the plan, the redbud in the middle flanked by a crape myrtle on either side. they’re not an 80 year old maple, but it’s something we can live with for the rest of our lives.