The Q&A Archives: An Acre of Forest

Question: We are looking for trees to plant in our suburban lot. The area used to be famous for elms. I have heard that there are types that are resistant to the Dutch Elm Disease that decimated the population in past years. What are these varieties, how do they grow, where can they be bought and what is the cost? What about Shagbark Hickories, Hazelnut or other nut trees? We already have lots of black walnuts growing. We are also looking for smaller flowering trees that are hardy but not messy. We have almost an acre of land with about 30 trees already in place. We want it to be a haven for birds and small animals.

Answer: Since you already have black walnuts, I suggest you focus on trees that are compatible, since black walnuts can kill nearby plants with a compound exuded from their roots. Here are a few to consider that also produce feed for wildlife: catalpa, eastern hemlock, sugar maple, hackberry, sycamore, black cherry, white, red, and shingle oaks, and white cedar, to name a few. Good flowering and fruiting shrubs include elderberry, honeysuckles, Rose of Sharon, and Rugosa rose (plant the rose far from the black walnuts). If you want to try growing the wilt resistant hybird elm, you'll find them in Gurney's Catalog (110 Capital St., Yankton, SD 57079, ph# 605/665-1671). These trees are fast growing, are 60' at maturity, and attractive, though they don't have the traditional vase shape of our American Elm. Also, your local chapter of the Audubon Society can provide further information on creating wildlife habitat. Enjoy!

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