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Which tree is best for your property?

Consider planting shrubs and trees in the spring


Do you have a favorite tree?

Trees are a vital part of the landscape. From cleaning the air to providing protection from soil erosion, offering shade, visual landscape interest and habitat for wildlife, a beautiful property will only be enhanced by a variety of thoughtfully planted — and well tended — trees.

In Bucks County and Southeastern Pennsylvania, there are a wide number of trees and varieties from which to pick — from steadfast evergreens to stately deciduous specimens and dwarf, fruit or flowering and colorful foliage types.

Spring is for planting

“Spring can be a great time for tree planting, and you do need to be more watchful about watering now,” said Margaret Pickoff, a commercial horticulture educator in the Bucks County office of Penn State Extension in Wrightstown.

Whether that means supplementing a dry spring with hand watering or riding out a wetter-than-normal season, watering through hot, dry summers it’s vital to provide water for newly planted trees until they are well established, Pickoff said.

“Heavy precipitation events can be stressful on new and (newly) established trees,” she said.

Keep in mind trees that do not like “wet feet” should be avoided for planting in parts of a property where ponding or swampy conditions are common as these kinds of trees won’t handle wet conditions well.

“There aren’t too many tree species I would caution against, as long as you are watering well,” Pickoff said.

There are species able to withstand wet conditions and heavy downpours, so consider those it your property is prone to be wet.

“River birch is among my favorites and will withstand rainy conditions. It has “peeling” bark, catkins in the spring and triangular leaves,” Pickoff said.

Space it right

When making your selection, aim for the ultimate height at maturity — especially if you are space limited.

Pickoff recommends Eastern redbud trees for smaller spaces because they don’t experience a lot of disease and are a lovely flowering tree.

“Red cedar and American arborvitae can be great in the landscape and red maple is a staple in our area with its bright crimson leaves,” Pickoff said.

Flowering dogwood is another disease-resistant option, with its smaller stature, cascade of pink or white flowers, and overall disease resistance.

“Linden plane trees are disease tolerant, and they are great in larger landscapes and spaces,” Pickoff explained.

She cautioned against planting some oak varieties, especially red oaks, due to more disease issues while swamp white, pin and willow oak “are really beautiful options.”

“All three can be planted in full sun but they are natural “under story” trees in the forest. If you have part shade or shady locations, those can be great spots for them,” Pickoff said.

If you have a lot of land or a large estate, beech trees are an elegant choice.

“Beech trees are beautiful… and can grow for a long period of time and are stately,” she said.

Beech leaf disease is currently putting “pressure on beeches” so be mindful of this issue.

“Beech trees are an important part of our ecosystem and ornamental landscapes,” Pickoff said.

Look for leaves with a “striped appearance, or they may look crinkly or deformed,” she said.

Sadly, beech leaf disease is usually fatal to the affected tree within five to 10 years of onset, Pickoff explained.

If you see evidence of beech leaf disease, Pickoff said to report it to Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“As far as we know it’s extremely serious. Each county has an assigned service forester,” she said.

While trees are still dormant and before they begin putting on new growth — now through the end of March continues to be a good time to prune them.

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