Have you ever had a tree removed that provided an abundance of shade, and now all of the sudden you’re left with a blank canvas…in full sun? Well, let me tell you, my parents just had a HUGE maple tree removed from the front yard, it provided a ton of shade, it protected certain areas of the yard and the house, and now…well, nothing. So, of course they asked me, “what should we plant there?”, “what would grow fast?”, “what has a good shape to it and won’t take over?”. I couldn’t answer all of these questions right away, I had to look more into what they really wanted. Before I could even make suggestions, my mom already had her mind made up on two trees. Okay…well, either that makes this job a lot easier or it just got a lot harder. I’m sticking with the first, I’ve learned not to argue with her. So, this whole removing the huge tree and replacing it with a smaller tree got me to thinking…what do people really know about trees? Lets start with some basics.
These are the trees that are shaped like cylinders, they also tend to appear narrow (they are not necessarily narrow however). They appear narrow due to the branching pattern, their branches have a uniform length from top to bottom. Examples of columnar trees are: cherry, poplar, red maple, tuliptree, and quaking aspen. Many commonly known trees may also be available in a columnar shape.
You can guess that these trees have an irregular and random branching pattern, which creates and open asymmetrical canopy. These shapes provide great shade, and stunning silhouettes in fall and winter when they are bare after their leaves have fallen (think spooky halloween trees). Examples of these trees include the ash, buckeye, sycamore, silver maple and the smoketree.
I believe most of us know what these trees look like, their branches drooping down with cascading foliage, which makes the tree look very graceful. These trees tend to soften the landscapes, some are small and some can be quite large like the willow. Other examples include birch, cherry, crabapple, katsura, and larch.
These trees look like a pyramid as their name would suggest, or have cone shape with triangular canopies. Many conifers have this shape, when given ample room to grow and spread, they look very stunning. Examples include american beech, magnolia, blue spruce, linden, and oak.
Trees with a globe shape are rounded in nature, which are ideal for formal landscapes. They provide great linear features, and then are softened by the canopy. Examples of globe shaped trees include bur oak, black maple, flowering dogwood, and redbud.
That’s a rough one to pronounce, isn’t it? These types have an elongated, narrow, tapering profile and a strong vertical habit that draws your eyes up. They can be planted as a row of hedges or in a row for a privacy screen, they can also serve as a great windbreak. Examples include arborvitae, european beech, and ginko.
A vase shaped tree works wonderful near streets and walkways because the limbs generally don’t block the view of traffic or pedestrians walking underneath. The branches grow upward from the trunk sharply, then flare out toward the top. Examples of a vase shaped tree include boxelder, elm, fringetree, hawthorn, striped maple, and zelkova.
These trees have strong horizontal branches, even at the very top, which makes them very wide. They can overwhelm small properties, and make single story homes look tiny because they are massive trees. However, their spreading habit can contrast nicely with narrow homes. Examples of horizontal trees include beech, eastern redcedar, fir, korean dogwood, larch, oak, and witchhazel.
I gave my parents a few suggestions on trees, but my mom stuck with what she originally wanted, a Pear Tree, and a Poplar, both should work out just fine. Tree shapes aren’t the only thing you need to think about when picking out a tree, but it’s the best start. If you need help deciding on a tree, or would like help with a new landscaping project, give us a call, write us an email, we would be glad to help!