The Q&A Archives: Shade Tree for Clay Soil and Damp Feet

Question: We are in a new subdivision. We have tried twice to establish one Skyline Locust and one Red Oak. Both failed after first year. We were told that the larger starter plants (4" diameter) will live off of the root ball one season and then fail if not planted properly due to clay soil. The nursery planted them. There has been a water problem on the side of the yard where we have now lost two Skyline locusts - new construction this last year on that side really caused problems for trees and yard. Things have settled, but I think that area may always tend to be wetter. Only tree the nursery suggested was Red Sunset Maple. What about Paper Birch (no River Birch, everyone is planting them), Locust, any other sturdy maple (no silvers!). Thanks for your help.

Answer: In your Zone 5 garden, in heavy, wet soil, you'll have success growing Chamaecyparis (False Cypress), Cercis (American Redbird), Alnus cordata (Italian Alder), Cornus Florida (dogwood), Populus tremula (Aspen), Salix (weeping willow), Acer rubrum (Red Maple), or Betula papyrifera (Paper Birch).

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