One of my absolute favorite trees is the Red Oak. A mature Red Oak is most often what we envision when we think of a large mature tree. The problem is time; plant a Red Oak today and your great-grandchildren will be sitting under it about one hundred years from now. Fortunately, an immature example is still desirable for its height and foliage but it won't be that "centerpiece" for many years. Is it worth planting an oak or sycamore? Absolutely, but you're pleasure will be increased through the additional planting of some smaller, quicker growing trees and a few bright, fast growing ornamentals. These smaller trees will fill the void while your majestic tree grows and provide build contrast and size perspective as your big tree moves toward adolescence.
Mapping your tree planting is extremely important. Concrete is a major concern. Species, soil, nutrients, and water supply shape root growth. In a fight between a medium-sized tree and a sidewalk, the sidewalk will lose. Also, like animals, trees will struggle for dominance. Trees must be planted as if they were fully grown. I know that sounds remarkably obvious (though hopefully not patronizing) but the truth is most people can't bring themselves to allow the planting distances necessary for most trees. It is hard to imagine that a wobbly stick planted in your backyard today can damage your house's foundation in twenty years. Generally speaking, many trees need about 6' from concrete, 10' from foundations and 20' from power lines. Some little ornamentals are fine near concrete. On the other hand, some big trees, like the Red Oak have canopies that can shade an entire house and a good portion of the front and backyards. Ask a certified arborist before you plant. Nothing is as frustrating and disappointing to the home gardener as losing a young tree due to bad planning.
Few things can materially increase the value of a residential property like trees. Mastering your trees is a source of lasting enjoyment with long-lasting value. Plot before you plant.
Stacy W. Barker
Stacy is the owner of Bud's