Post details: A Landscape from Scratch - Part 3


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A Landscape from Scratch - Part 3

Trees and EvergreensTrees and Evergreens

Shade trees grow to heights between 40 and 100 feet. Some shade trees, such as willow and catalpa, grow rapidly and will provide shade in five to 10 years. That quick growth results in weaker wood, however, so these trees are less likely to weather high winds without damage.

Slower-growing shade trees, such as red and white oak, and sugar and Norway maple, have stronger wood to resist weather extremes. These trees are valuable when planted on the south side of your home, where they'll provide shade during the hottest part of the year, yet allow the sun's rays to filter in for warmth in winter.


Evergreens grow slower than shade trees but offer some advantages. They require very little maintenance and pruning, remain green year-round, provide relief from bitter winter winds when planted along the north side of the home, and can serve a variety of landscaping purposes. The low-growing types fit easily into tight places, and short evergreens are popular for framing doorways or windows.

Problems That Grow

Beware of how things can grow. Plant with a vision of the future, especially when working around your home's foundation. Tree roots can exert relentless crushing power against a basement wall.

Many large plants, such as cedars and certain pines, lose their symmetrical forms with age and the effects of strong winds, and become frayed and ugly. Others -- such as most pines, some firs and spruces, and Cryptomeria -- lose their lower branches with age; unless they are masked by lower-growing plants, they can lose their charm.

Building with existing trees

When building a new home, many people buy their lot because of its beauty and established trees. Remember that it's easier to visualize a home nestled among those majestic trees than it is to build one there.

Designing a home for such a site will be more costly, but most homeowners wouldn't have it any other way. However, it is nearly impossible to build on such a site without causing some trauma to broad root systems, which can be compacted by soil during construction.

Distancing the home from tree roots as much as possible will help, says Cagle. But wherever the trees are, builders of finer homes are becoming more careful about preserving the trees.

"Protective fencing can be placed around the tree when the heavy equipment comes in," Cagle says. That will save trunks from careless scarring. Even a protected tree may suffer for a period after work nearby.

"It's a good idea to plan on a rejuvenation period after construction to give trees care and feeding until they are healthy again," Cagle says.

Better Homes and Gardens



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