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November Landscapes – Choosing your new tree!


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What Tree Do I choose?

Here are some proven winners for Texas homeowners

I recently wrote how Fall through early spring is the best time of year to plant shrubs and trees. Dry, hot summer can stress new trees and plants in Texas. It is best to allow new trees to become acclimated, develop roots while the soil is still cool and the temperatures are still moderate.

This month, we’re going to get into what types of trees are best to plant here and some of the pros and cons of each.

But first, a few facts for the homeowner about trees:

• Trees can reduce the temperatures of a home’s roof and walls by 20% in summer, reducing electricity bills.

• Deciduous trees (lose their leaves in fall/winter) allow winter sunlight in, helping to heat your home.

• Homes with mature shade trees are more expensive and sell quicker than those without them.

Choosing the type of tree is an important decision. You must first figure out where you want to put the tree, then perhaps decide which one is best.

For instance, you would never want to put a full size tree next to your home. So trees such as Live Oaks, Red Oaks, Pecans should not be considered for a location close to the home. Instead, go with ornamental trees which won’t pose a threat to your home, its roof, or its foundation, such as Crape Myrtles, dwarf Magnolias, etc.

If you want a full size tree and your front yard is small, it is best to stay with something moderately big, like a Chinese Pistache or a Vitex Tree. Some varieties of Maples are also suitable for this type of location.

Large yards would be a great place to plant large trees, such as:

Bald Cypress – If you have places on the property that stays wet or moist for long periods of time, remedy that with a Bald Cypress, which will be glad to keep that moisture for itself. Those wet spots won’t stay wet for long.

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Shumard Red Oak (shown above) – A hybrid Oak taken from the Texas Red Oak, engineered to have superior Oak Wilt resistance. The scientists hit a real home run with the Shumard Red Oak. Its a large tree, topping out around 60-70 feet in height and 50 ft or so in width. It has a naturally perfect shape and will seldom require trimming. While they do produce acorns, they do not produce them in high number and the squirrels usually take most of them.

Their Fall color comes late in the season, one of the last trees to turn. They will turn a bright dark red which will last two to three weeks. And unlike other deciduous trees, these do not drop their leaves once they turn brown. They instead will hang on to them until new buds start coming out in late February. No fall leaf clean up for these guys.

Live Oak – A native to North Texas, they do very well here. They grow very large and sprawling wide. When they are maintained correctly, they are one of the most graceful and beautiful trees you will see. And not one of them will be shaped the same way. Some of the most beautiful Live Oaks I’ve ever seen were in Landa Park in New Braunfels, Texas. Graceful yet majestic. The cons would include the millions of acorns they can produce during the fall. Even with the help of the squirrels, they can be overwhelming. The March leaf drop which lasts two to three weeks is also a bit overwhelming. Yet I have two in my own front yard, so what does that tell you? :)

Big-Tooth Maple – A Texas native, this fast-growing deciduous tree features fantastic red and orange fall colors. It is the species which you will see in the “Lost Maples” in the southern part of the Hill Country.

Others include Burr Oak, Chinquapin Oak, DD Blanchard Southern Magnolia, and Pecan.

 

Medium-sized trees would include:

Chinese Pistache – A tree Texas A&M lists high in its “Super100” trees for Texas, while not a native of Texas it does quite well here. It is a medium sized tree that produces Fall color that will rival that of a Maple. That color includes reds, yellows and oranges. It is a moderately fast grower and is one of the species which has a discernible male and female gender. The female produces clusters of red berries, which are not edible, but the birds enjoy them. The males do not have berries. These berries only appear in the Fall, so that is the only time you can tell the genders apart. Plant these with good drainage to prevent cotton root rot down the road.

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Shatung Maples (shown above) – The Shatung Maple is from China but is known for being able to tolerate not only alkaline soils but hot weather, too. So these can be planted anywhere in the black clay section of Texas, including the DFW Metroplex. Their Fall color is spectacular. They produce no berries, acorns or nuts.

Japanese Black Pine – One of my favorites because of its bonsai-type growth habit. You will seldom see one grow straight. Being an evergreen, they’re never without foliage and theirs is a beautiful deep green. They are fast growers, growing up to three feet a year in some cases.

Forest Pansy Redbud – This tree would normally be listed in ornamentals, but they get so wide that they’re hard to plant too close to the home. What to love – traditional breathtaking blooming during the first 2-3 weeks of spring. Once the blooming is over (tree blooms before producing leaves), they grow out burgundy leaves. This burgundy color will stay until the temperatures get into the upper 90s and 100s, when they will then turn a dark green.

 

If an ornamental tree is what you’re looking for, consider any of these:

Crape Myrtle – Practically every bloom color you can imagine are available in a Crape Myrtle. Science has really played around with this species and developed lots of off-shoot varieties, including those with dark chocolate colored leaves. Their big flaw as some will note is the frequency with which Scale and Aphids will attack them. However, if planted correctly and maintained, insect issues will remain at a minimum. Crapes are quick to stress so insects respond to that stress. Its all in the planting.

Japanese Maples – There are many varieties of Japanese Maples, but the Bloodgood is the most common we see in Texas. It is beautiful, graceful yet durable. However, you want to have filtered sun or part shade for these trees as they will suffer in direct Texas sun. Plant on the North or East side of your home unless you have big trees around to protect it with shade.

Little Gem or Teddy Bear Magnolias – Dwarf versions of their larger cousins, there’s a lot to like about them. The Little Gem has an upright growth habit that is not as problematic around roof lines. They don’t get very wide and aren’t the constant leaf shedders that their cousins are. Their blooms are big and white like the others and are quite fragrant. They are evergreen.

 

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Texas Mountain Laurel (shown above) – Another evergreen and native Texas species, the DFW area is on the northern edge of their growing region. They are relatively easy to grow, you find them growing in the side of cliffs in the Austin area. They have nice, small rounded foliage and feature grape-like clusters of medium blue blooms each spring. They are small and are slow growers, so keep that in mind when buying one.

There are other trees, mind you, that serve different purposes for us. Visual barrier trees such as Red Tip Photinias, Eastern Red Cedar, Savannah Hollies (as well as several other varieties of hollies) and several types of Junipers. And we’ll discuss these in another column down the road.

 

Tree Instincts At Work

The recent harsh winds that have blown across Texas have created some alarm. Of course, there’s the usual broken limbs and snapped trunks . . . but if you have Live Oaks, you will notice small sections of limb/leaves that are blown off.

“Help! My Live Oak must be dying because it’s losing parts of itself with this wind!” one homeowner wrote to me. “There’s chunks of Live Oak tree all over my lawn and driveway!.”

Believe it or not, this is more or less planned. Live Oaks will try to lighten their canopy load prior to Winter’s arrival so that they aren’t as stressed during ice and snow. Live Oaks are evergreen, so whatever ice, sleet or snow we may get will stick to those leaves, making the tree’s canopy much heavier.

Pine Tree’s are the same way. Every Fall you will notice a collection of pine needles underneath the tree. This is the same protective instinct at work, plus, the pine needles form a mulch over the root ball zone, providing some additional insulation for the winter.

Fall is a time when we can have high winds here in Texas. There is a transition going on from summer to fall and the meetings of both cold and warm air masses can create some violent weather here.

As for the Fall Show, that was just getting started in late October with some hints of color showing up in the tops and outer fringes of some tree varieties in Texas. November should bring all that color together for us. Some species to look out for with regard to that color will be the Maples, Pistache, Oaks, Hickory, Sweet Gum, and even Japanese Maples will join in.

It’s an exciting time of year. But remember, in Texas we’re just a wind storm away from having our trees stripped of those colorful leaves. I hope we’ve seen the worst this past week in that regard.

 

What to do this month . . .

• If you haven’t already done so, put down your season’s last round of pre-emergent this month. The sooner the better.

• We’ve now completed another summer season and go into winter . . . have a sprinkler check conducted on your system to make sure there are no problems. Don’t let freezing weather show it to you and have to respond when weather is cold.

• The duties of leaf collection begin this month. Do let those leaves sit around.

Christmas lights start going up this month. Make sure you’ve scheduled your installation with your installer. The longer you wait, the later your lights go up.

• Make arrangements to get your potted plants in, or at least have an indoor space you can take them to. Potted plants are quick to freeze due to the freezing temperature hitting the top and all sides.

 

 

 

 

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  • joeywa pinned this topic

I often tell people that trees and plants are just like humans. There are no two that behave or perform the same. An example of this is below, a pair of trees I shot today just north of DFW Airport. Both are Chinese Pistache and are the approximate same age and health. Yet, the tree on the right is about 50% colorful now while the one on the left is still green and without color.

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, jrcruz1026 said:

Thinking of planting a Mexican Sycamore, thoughts? Do they grow fast and stay healthy relatively long term?

 

They grow pretty fast, yes. That is usually indicative of a shorter life span. It would still outlive either of us though.

In their natural environment (central and northern Mexico), they can grow to 80 ft high. In Texas, you're looking at the same tree topping out around 50 ft high. And it would be around 40 ft wide.

As they get older, their bark becomes a thing of beauty.

 

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On 10/31/2021 at 4:14 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

 

Shumard_Red_Oak_2.thumb.jpg.4abd1c4f15775184c043025bc3b3f688.jpg

Shumard Red Oak (shown above) – A hybrid Oak taken from the Texas Red Oak, engineered to have superior Oak Wilt resistance. The scientists hit a real home run with the Shumard Red Oak. Its a large tree, topping out around 60-70 feet in height and 50 ft or so in width. It has a naturally perfect shape and will seldom require trimming. While they do produce acorns, they do not produce them in high number and the squirrels usually take most of them.

Their Fall color comes late in the season, one of the last trees to turn. They will turn a bright dark red which will last two to three weeks. And unlike other deciduous trees, these do not drop their leaves once they turn brown. They instead will hang on to them until new buds start coming out in late February. No fall leaf clean up for these guys.

These are required for the HOA, and every one we plant dies. All the same way... half of the tree starts to lose leaves and the bark falls off. Any idea what's going on there? I may ask to you save our yard.

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32 minutes ago, Captain Hookem said:

These are required for the HOA, and every one we plant dies. All the same way... half of the tree starts to lose leaves and the bark falls off. Any idea what's going on there? I may ask to you save our yard.

You may want to try moving the tree location a few feet in any direction. Sometimes you get a root-born disease to deal with and it will infect anything you put into that same hole. If that's the case, then whatever you have in the ground now, its too late.

If you're in the Metroplex and need another one, I'd be glad to put it in the ground for you and give it a good start. I also offer a service where I visit weekly to make sure the tree is doing as it should. That wouldn't be necessary during winter, but certainly beneficial in spring.

I suspect the tree you have may have been planted too deep. That will send them downhill fast. If you have mulch over the root flare, that will also give it problems.

Give me a shout, I'll come out at no cost and give you my thoughts when I can see it up close. greenthumbtx@verizon.net

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Baron said:

What are your thoughts on olive trees? The Texas climate should be a lot like the Mediterranean.

The summers are, but our winters can easily be cold enough to knock an Olive Tree out. Not just any Olive Tree will do well here. Generally, the further south in Texas you live, the better luck you'll have. Some do fine in North Texas though.

Here's a table of varieties of Olive Trees that do well here.

growing-olives-in-texas.jpg.7c43c56344e29307233ae250a33ebe45.jpg

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1 hour ago, Sirhornsalot said:

The summers are, but our winters can easily be cold enough to knock an Olive Tree out. Not just any Olive Tree will do well here. Generally, the further south in Texas you live, the better luck you'll have. Some do fine in North Texas though.

Here's a table of varieties of Olive Trees that do well here.

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Thanks. You are the best. Manzanilla seem the easiest to get with Arberquina just following.

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