The Mix

To Tree or Not to Tree...

Besides being an Owner and the Broker of MOVE Realty, I enjoy plants of all kinds, so much so that I became a Master Gardener through the University of Missouri Extension.  There was an era where landscapers around new homes had their “go to” trees and some became a nuisance or even invasive trees.  My examples are the Gumball Tree (Sweetgum), Catalpa, and the “fish tree”, as my kids call it, the invasive Bradford Pear.  You can see how widely the pear spreads in spring as the trees bloom around vacant fields and areas that are not regularly cared for.  The Missouri Department of Conservation urges people to not plant them and use more native trees.  There are even programs in the St. Louis area offering you a free tree if you cut your pear tree down.

So, what should I plant and where?  It is often hard to foresee what a baby tree has the potential to become. As a REALTOR, I see it when I look at a home and the owner has placed a pine tree within 5 or 10 feet of their home.   When they bought it, it was this tiny Christmas tree, however, it now towers over and against their home.  The small trees that I typically suggest are dogwoods and redbuds which do very well here.  There are several native versions but also some hybrids like the Kousa Dogwood.  I have a Gray Dogwood in my yard.  Redbuds can also be a good corner tree but do typically grow a bit larger than Doqwoods.  My resource for native plants and trees is Forrest Keeling Nursery in Elsberry right on Hwy 79. 

Another option that is not native is the Japanese Maple. Most varieties of this tree do very well and prefer shade, so they are perfect for that North facing home.  The bloodgood is the most common here, they are red all year and can handle full sun. The lace leaf versions tend to prefer shady areas.

When looking at larger shade trees, look for a spot in the yard where you can draw the circumference of the potential size of the tree and see what it would cover or be in contact with, keeping in mind that its roots will typically also reach that far and can damage the foundation of your home.  Shade trees can have many benefits besides a cooler place to play in your yard, they can reduce utilities thanks to the shade they provide your home.  They can also make your home more attractive to potential buyers.  Watch for additional articles in the future that discuss the good and bad of other types of trees like fruit and nut bearing trees, and what to plant for different soil types.

Happy planting!

-Will Klein

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