Quick Growing Drought Resistant Trees - Knowledgebase Question

Bowling Green, KY
Avatar for fitzkid
Question by fitzkid
January 21, 1998
We live in a new subdivision - no trees yet. We would like to add some trees to our SMALL lot this year. Can you recommend trees that grow quickly - in poor draining clay soil?

Answer from NGA
January 21, 1998
If I may share some experience with you...don't necessarily go for trees that are quick growing. Quick growing usually also means tall growing and that just is not what you want in an urban environment. I live in a subdivision myself and when it was installed 15 years ago the builders/landscapers put in quick growing "easy" and cost effective varieties such as Silver Maple and Lombardy Poplars. Those trees are now huge and have outgrown their space. They are regularly scalped by the electric company. In a setting such as you describe I would recommend something that may grow a little slower, but not get so massive. Flowering Crabapples (Malus), Dogwood (Cornus kousa, Cornus florida), and Bradford Pear should all well in your location, and they have the added benefit of blooms. Consider also Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), River Birch (Betula nigra), and smaller evergreens such as American Holly (Ilex opaca), and Irish Juniper (Juniperus communis 'hibernica'). All of the above listings should reach 15-35' in height.

You mention "drought resistant" but then you mention the poor-draining clay soil, so I am little confused on that. Few trees can withstand "wet feet", or sites that are regularly saturated with water. Is this the case, or is it a dry site? (If I have misinterpreted something please feel free to post another question.)

You might have a soil test done, to find out just what soil type you have. Contact your Cooperative Extension Office at 502-842-1681 for information about soil testing. Unfortunately, in many subdivisions the beautiful topsoil is scraped off and hauled away, leaving new homeowners with barren subsoil. You might ask the builders to find out if there is any topsoil available from the construction.

Keep in mind that all newly planted trees need a bit of "babying". A great source of failure in new plantings is inadequate watering. One other note, I would wait until all the construction is complete in your immediate area before planting. When new construction is going on there is usually a lot of disturbance in the soil and things are quite unstable. Water run-off from other properties still being worked on with heavy equipment is common.

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