Hybrid Poplars and Aspens in New England - Knowledgebase Question

Haverhill, MA
Avatar for susan219
Question by susan219
June 17, 2005
We live in New England and are looking for a fast growing, columnar tree to use as a high (30'+), narrow screen between two driveways. It does not need to be a dense, solid mass, and it can be deciduous. There is only about 6' of planting width. We were thinking of hybrid tower poplars or Swedish aspens (populus tremula Erecta), but although you sell them, your retailers around here do not carry them because they say they are too brittle and thus subject to wind damage. We would also need to be concerned about root damage to the driveways, and avoiding anything dropping sap or fruit. What do you suggest?

Answer from NGA
June 17, 2005
In my experience the poplars really are not usually the best choice, they are brittle and do break in snow and ice and wind storms. Six feet is very narrow for trees, their branches spread outward and cause trouble with vehicles passing beneath them and their roots need to spread wider than the branches, thus causing trouble with the pavement. Very few trees can reach that height and stay so narrow. Arborvitaes include some cultivars that are columnar and can reach, say, 20 feet while staying narrow. They will however take many years to grow that tall. Your local professional nursery staff may have some other suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions, the space available and your design goals. Perhaps a fence between the driveways combined with awnings on any windows would solve the view problem?

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