Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
April, 2004
Regional Report

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This ornamental plum has pink blossoms to greet the spring and berry-like fruit for birds, and it's small enough to work as a foreground tree.

The Gift of Trees

If you could provide birds with nesting sites, food, and protection from predators, as well as lower your utility costs, clean the air, prevent soil erosion, and beautify your surroundings, wouldn't you do it? Most of us would. And we can do it all in one easy step: Plant a tree.

National Arbor Day is April 30. If you can plant a tree on your own property, great. If you can help a group plant on public property, such as a city park, wonderful. Now is a good time for tree planting so let's go over a few pointers so you don't hit any snags.

Pick the Right Tree
Trees are classified as small, medium, and large. Small trees are best for beneath power lines and smaller areas. They grow about 20 to 30 feet high and half as wide. Flowering crabapples or hawthorns are good candidates.

Medium trees provide shade, growing 30 to 40 feet tall and half as wide. Black alder or little leaf linden are options. A Mayday tree (Prunus padus commutata) would be fun, too.

Large trees grow 40 to 60 feet high and taller, and develop hefty trunk diameters. Make sure you have room for these forest giants when they reach full maturity. Try a northern catalpa for a tree that puts up with drought and heat once established. It doesn't even mind alkaline soils.

Never choose a tree thinking that you can or should prune it to fit the spot you have in mind. Selecting a tree that meets the site conditions is the single most important factor in guaranteeing its success. Be sure to group trees according to their needs, such as light, water, and soil types. If you plan before you plant, you and your tree will enjoy a long, healthy relationship.

Ask an Expert
Most communities have a tree commission. They, or the park board, are likely to have a tree planting and selection guide that lists the trees best suited for your area. Check the phone book for those city offices. Give yourself the gift of a tree this year.

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