Thread: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

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  1. #1

    New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    Hi.

    I'm a new home owner with about .75 acre lot.

    The subdivision was built in a cotton field, so there are no trees.

    This is Zone 7, but honestly I assume a few hot summers and mild winters would make the trees think it's Zone 8 or 9.

    Anyway, having grown up on a tree filled lot and lived nearly all of my adult life in military barracks, military housing and apartments, I'm determined to pack this lot with trees I want to make up for the lost years not having them!

    My questions:

    Can I plant trees like Pin Oak, Red Maple and Tuliptree at a distance equal to half their average canopy size?

    I'm worried about the spruces I have coming. I never saw many healthy ones in the deep south growing up. I want to drop several in at the property line as a wind screen then have medium sized hardwoods 15-20 feet over in case the heat burns the Norways and Colorado Blue out.

    Will they make good neighbors (Red Maple and the Spruces) or should I drop in a row of less-competative flowering trees by the Spruces?

    Lastly, could the normal attentive owner expect a 30-40% loss rate? I ordered for that, and now I'm starting to think I'll be giving trees away. I mapped it all out, and if everything I planted grows, we'll have a true urban forrest. (Example, front yard would have 2 Weeping Willows, 2 Dawn Redwoods, 2 Washington Hawthornes and a sample of flowering trees.) Any one else over plant expecting loss?


    I plan to record what happens with this tree madness so I can show off my new suburban jungle. We'll see what happens.

  2. #2
    Oak
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    NE Tennessee
    Posts
    108

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    Welcome BTF.
    Can I plant trees like Pin Oak, Red Maple and Tuliptree at a distance equal to half their average canopy size?
    If you want to have individual specimens that reach their full crown potential, then this is sound reasoning, but don't forget that trees grow just fine with each other in the forest. Don't be afraid to group trees that will do well together. For instance Rud Bud is naturally an understory plant and will love to grow under a taller shade tree, same with dogwood. Birches also do well in group plantings.

    Your blue spruces will be the most likely to fail. I just don't think they like the heat and drought. They deffinately dont like shade and if grown near or under another tree will lose foliage.

    If you plant good stock properly and are able to keep it watered (deep watering once or twice a week) you should not have that much loss. I have planted over a hundred trees in the last three years and have only lost 4-5. That is with minimal after care.

    Please make sure you site your trees in an appropriate place. Weeping willows and dawn redwoods(one of my personal favorites) require lots of water. Tulip Polars transpire incredible amounts of water and could compete with other trees or turf.(btw trees don't like turf) Don't plant geneticaly tall trees under power lines. Find the root flare and plant it at grade.

    hope you find this helpful.
    "EDUCATION begins when you question something. EDUCATION occurs when you have resolved your doubts" Alex Shigo

  3. #3
    fusion2
    Guest

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    I planted some blue spruces and norway spruces and they have done good I have had them two years I bought them from lowes and from a local nursery as potted trees a 2 foot tall and I am in zone 7 one thing to look for in blue spruces is good to get some with the blue color breed in them some of them will not have good blue color. it varies it varienty do get the true blue varienty.

  4. #4
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    I've personally had problems with Blue Spruce, mainly because my soil is wet/heavy (lots o' clay). Spruces don't like "wet feet", they fare best in "silty" sandy-loam type soil with an acid pH (my soil has a neutral pH around 7.0). Just make sure they are planted where there is excellent drainage, and they will do well. If you get high winds/severe t-storms in your areas, spruces will generally topple quite easily due to their shallow rooting.

  5. #5
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    198

    Re: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Tree_Fan
    Lastly, could the normal attentive owner expect a 30-40% loss rate? I ordered for that, and now I'm starting to think I'll be giving trees away.
    I would go ahead and plant them. You have plenty of time to change your mind and cut some down in the future (or maybe transplant) before they get really big. If you err on the side of not planting enough, you lose time, which is harder to replace.

  6. #6
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    If you bought trees on-line or got them through ADF, be prepared for very small seedlings. Eventually, they'll catch up, but it will be several years before you see significant growth in most cases. I'd recommend buying a few larger trees to provide some quicker shade and something that will look like a tree sooner rather than later.

    As far as spacing is concerned, in that setting, if you space them too far apart, they are going to be be quite bushy. You are going to have to do a lot of pruning and training to get them to grow the way you want them to.
    That is not a large space, but you still might consider planting trees closer together in some area--i.e. your backyard. They will grow taller and straighter that way. I have a lot more space and am planting forests, so my situation is different. But I usually plant my trees much, much closer together. For reforestation--again, NOT your situation--the Department of Forestry recommends 8'x8' spacing. I generally go 5-6' apart and have even planted a few cohorts (trees of the same species) as close as 3' apart. They are much less maintenance.

    Obviously, you are in a yard and will want to have them farther apart. But I wouldn't be afraid to plant them a bit closer, knowing that you will have to thin some of them out later. It will make your job a lot easier--except in obvious places, like your front yard, where you'll be pruning them for a long time to come.

    But I'd really consider planting them much closer together and planting more. You can always thin them later.

    If you are attentive and diligent, I doubt very seriously that you'll lose a third of your trees. My success rate in reforesting is about that or a little better. My latest project is now going into its fourth year and I've lost about 20-25% of my seedlings (purchased from the Department of Natural Resources). Most of my losses have been to deer.

    In yards, I've rarely lost a tree. Watering is key! Give those baby trees tender, loving care and you'll have a beautiful yard.

    Enjoy!

  7. #7

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    Thanks all.

    I have decided to leave the weeping willows out of the picture.

    I did some new measurements last night, and with the screening trees, the leafy monsters (pin oak, red maple, etc) I have just enough room to have the flowering trees in the mix.

    Dropping the willows out of the plan, and perhaps even dropping out two more pin oaks gives me a ton more room for medium sized trees. I dont' care about the lawn at all, I just want some balance.

    Now the hard part. Do I call up and ask to remove some of the trees from my Arbor day order, or do I do some guerilla planting?

    There's an old railroad bed flanked by soggy spots about 500 yards from my house. The county owns it, but does not maintain it. I often think how great it would be to go plant those two willows flanked with a few big hardwoods where the ground isn't so wet. I've done guerilla planting before -- but it's been limited to sunflowers and blackberry vines in marginal, neglected spots.

  8. #8
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    How far apart are you planning for the oaks and maples? I would plant them no farther than twenty feet apart if you're not worried about having a lawn. And, as I wrote before, I'd probably go closer, say fifteen feet. In my previous residence, I planted a cohort of red oaks in the corner of the lot. They were roughly 10-12 feet apart. These were potted trees I bought at Meijer or Lowe's (can't remember for sure now). They were already about 5 feet tall when planted. They did very well and very quickly created a little grove of shade in that spot. The subdivision was an old cornfield and there weren't any mature trees anywhere around. And it was a very small lot--only about a quarter of an acre. To provide quick shade, I planted silver maples that I dug up on my grandpa's farm. The silver maples shot up in a hurry and in five years, I had a couple of silver maples that were well over twenty feet as well as a little grove of oaks that were about ten feet tall. When I sold the place, the trees were really starting to take off. I had planted northern red oaks and they grew about two feet in height the last year I was there.

    My point is that you shouldn't be afraid to plant them closer together. Trees like company and if they are close enough together, they'll help each other grow taller rather bushy, which will be their natural tendency if planted farther apart in that open area.

    Again, don't be disappointed when you open that ADF order and find VERY SMALL seedlings that are going to be little sticks in the ground for 3-4-5 years or so before you see significant growth. They will be tiny for a long time.

    Why not try the "guerrilla" planting--it isn't your land, but if it is not being used and is not actively maintained, go for it. Worst case scenario is
    that they'll cut them down later, right?

  9. #9

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    good point -- i think I will can't hurt

    i know the ADF trees will be little sticks in the ground, and I'll have to defend them from all types of beasts, including my stick eating wiem.

    the better half says were getting "some potted trees honey" so we'll drop a few of those in the plan

    i know to do as i'm told, even though I like the idea of going from twig to tree -- kind of a childhood thing from planting pine saplings and bulbs all the time....

  10. #10
    Oak
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    NE Tennessee
    Posts
    108

    RE: New Member, lots of trees coming, 1 acre lot, spacing questions

    All Good Advice. Plant close, plant a forest. Leave the grass for the Golf course. Mulch it all or leave it "Natural" like the forest floor. Your trees will love you for it.

    One suggestion. If you want some bigger stock. Find a local grower and try to get B&B material. They generally have less root issues than container plants. Don't be afraid to ask about nursery practices. You want B&B that was grown in the feild from bare root whips. Ask if they root prune. Ideally the trees should be root pruned two years before sale for the best root system. If they don't, which very few do, it isn't the end of the world, but don't buy B&B that was grown from container stock. Almost ALL container grown plants have circling roots. The issues that arise from root circling usually take years to notice and by then it is often too late to correct.

    You are making a big investment in the future of your property, you should do everything you can to ensure a long and healthy life for your trees, plus poor root developement often leads to HAZARD trees, and you don't want them on your little peice of paradise.
    "EDUCATION begins when you question something. EDUCATION occurs when you have resolved your doubts" Alex Shigo

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