What tree should we plant?

Tree with purple leaves

We had to take down an 80-foot oak this fall. It was stressed with an bacteria that is infecting oaks all over our area and was dying — and near power lines. Three tree companies agreed it needed to go (they disagreed on others, so we left those, though we left those, though there is another oak that we are worried about). We ended up with lots of wood to split for firewood, no leaves to rake up — and a dilemma.

This tree was in the southeast corner of the property, so we know it helped shade the house in the summer. Fortunately, it was next to some giant spruces that we think started out as Christmas trees for the previous owner. So we still have some shade givers, plus a divider to the neighboring property.

Still, we know we want to plant something, though perhaps a bit further away from the lot line and those spruces. But what? A more disease-resistant oak? Something that flowers in the spring and also adds color in the fall? The Brit and I do like the other neighbors’ Korean dogwoods, but they don’t get anywhere near as tall as the oaks.

I’ve consulted Tracy DiSabato-Aust‘s “50 High Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants,” but nothing is higher that 10 feet. “Why Grow This When You Can Grow That” thankfully is not just about flowers and has a few suggestions. And I’m just finishing an intriguing book called “Paradise Lot — Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City.” The goumi tree (bush?) has caught my eye because it adds nitrogen to the soil and has tart berries. (OK, we’d no doubt be fighting birds for those!) But it seems to be only 6-9 feet tall.A pawpaw tree that the same guys grow? Or would it be a deer magnet? Same with persimmon, which they also mention?

I’ve also seen some trees in the area with purple leaves that would add some nice color and contrast, though again they don’t seem to get that tall. See the picture at the top. Are they purple plums?

We’re taking suggestions! And should we plant in the spring, or wait until fall?

Hopefully we won’t be facing the same decision with our mimosa tree in the back yard. It looked great at the end of August, and still had lots of those pink-and-white tufts. Then it went bare sometime in the first 10 days of September. We’ll be watching in 2014.

Mimosa tree in bloom in the backyard

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4 thoughts on “What tree should we plant?

  1. We planted a Chinquapin oak and like it very much. I think it is for zone 6 and warmer, but it seems fine in zone 5b for us. Lindens, sycamores, and Kentucky coffee trees are ones we have considered for shade trees. I guess it depends on your soil, etc.

  2. Paw-paw might be interesting – and they get pretty tall. Or you could do a black walnut — but make sure its far from your vegetable garden. Chestnuts also get very tall.

  3. What about some sort of a maple tree, just for the color of the leaves come fall? And maybe you could even get a teaspoonful of maple syrup, if the weather cooperates and the sap runs properly.

    1. We have a maple that turns red in the fall. But I could do without all the little whirly things and the seedlings I then have to pull out. I’d also like something that offers interest in more than one season.

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