Removing 3 bradford pears need ideas for alternatives. Pictures

othertime(7)September 6, 2011

We have three massive bradford pears in our backyard that abut the deck. We live in Northern Virginia hardiness zone 7a, but range 6-8 I think.The pears have grown so large now that they are starting to split at the base of the trunk. We had a storm 2 weeks ago (Irene) and the pear on the far right looking at the back of the deck split in half. We want to remove all three trees and plant new trees that will grow to provide shade for the deck since the rear of the house is in full sun all day. There are a couple small crapes that are planted between the three.

We need some ideas for what kind of trees will be suitable for what we are trying to accomplish.

Our requirements are:

1) The tree must mature relatively quickly so that once we plant the new trees they will provided ample amount of shade to the deck in roughly 4-5 years.

2) We are not looking for a tree that will produce nuts like an oak will (acorns etc) that will fall onto the deck and surrounding areas.

3) We want a deep root not a shallow root that will show.

4) No evergreens.

here are some pictures, thanks ahead of time for any response.

showing the amount of shade the pears give

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

Must you remove all three at once? Any tolerance for the notion of replacing the split one now, and then the other two on a staggered schedule as the new tree grows in?

Also, do you want all three trees the same again, or are you open to planting three different kinds?

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 9:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thanks for the followup. Our concerns for leaving the trees as they are is the risk of damage if the tree falls on the deck and worst on the house. They have fractures where on the trunk and from what I have read that once the black fractures start to show its only a matter of time before they start to split.

We are open to planting different kinds of trees, what do you have in mind?



    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

I'm not in your zone, and am far too lazy to do the research first, so I will just mention a couple of trees that intrigue me that you might like to look into.... Davidia and some types of Ash - I don't know my way around the Ashes yet. I also have a tree called a Pterostyrax, which I absolutely love. Love Love Love. I think it meets all your criteria if it is hardy for you.

The problem is availability, with brings up the question of how you plan to approach tree acquisition. Approach A is to go to your local nurseries (skip the big box stores, please!), look at the trees they have in stock, and pick some. Approach B is to do some research (as you're starting to do here), identify trees you want, and then hunt them down, either by special order at your nursery, or by mail order if you have to. Mail order will often get you smaller trees to start with.

If you are going with approach A, there is no point in anyone recommending anything special since you will be buying from existing stock anyway. So you're best off to just research what the nurseries have.

If you are going with approach B, you could ask on the tree forum - that's what they live to talk about over there.

Another strategy issue is the idea of getting one fast growing tree, and two slow-growing ones, or vice-versa, and thus ensuring that replacement in the future will always be on a staggered basis, no bare stage to get through.

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you considered a Dogwood...Cornus florida? It might not be as fast growing as you'd prefer, but it is not that much of a slouch either. Starting with a good size one, and a little drip irrigation, it wouldn't be that bad. Fast growth can be a double edged sword and usually also means weak wood (why you're dealing with Bradfords now.) Dogwoods are popular for good reason, readily available multi-season of interest: their beloved spring bloom, fall color and nice summer shade, and their branching even pretty in winter. Comes in white, pink or deep pink (usually referred to as "red".) Shade is not as dense as Bradfords, but it can be solid cover medium. Can be multi-trunk or single...train when young. Limb up to any height clear trunk. Remove lower branches before spring growth to encourage upward growth. They can become quite sizable over big as your Bradfords are now when they're older. Though they drop flowers after bloom and leaves at fall, they are not as messy as many other choices. All trees make some mess! Lots of pics on Google images and one here...

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is interesting in the context of trunk formation discussed on another thread because the Bradford on the left (multi stem) is the most interesting of the three. What if you kept this one and reduced it a bit and then look at some of the suggestions above for the others, I don't have the knowledge of your zone. It may be better if they were not uniform in shape or position.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

I don't think it's the Bradford that has the multiple trunks; seems to be a smaller shrub in front of it as the photo was taken. I was going to comment on that shrub too, Ink. It looks pruned. I wonder if it could be let grow taller once the Bradfords are down, enough to shade the patio a bit?

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 12:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Trip to the optician already booked karin.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

karinl, I looked up the Pterostyrax, what a beautiful tree. How fast does that tree grow. I looked it up but it was a mixed bag for growth rate and height it reaches.

Yardviser, dogwoods are in the top 10 trees in this area. I didn't know that there were different colored ones. Will have to look into that.

inkognito, the multitrunk tree is a different tree. great optical illusion though.

That shrub is on the corner of the pool area which is about 60 fee from the back of the deck. In the second picture you can see the separation between the two trees. The triangle multi-trunk shrub is a shaped holly.

In the second picture you can see the crape murtles there. I wonder how big they would get if the pears were taken down and they could be in full sun?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

I put my Pterostyrax in the ground as a rooted cutting barely 1-foot tall in probably... 2008. It is now at least 15 feet tall, I think. It looks to me like the new shoots every year are up to 4 feet long. So at the early stages, I'd have to say "fast." This is with good soil and pretty adequate water. Since it is not described as a large tree, I imagine that the growth rate slows eventually. Mine has a very clear tendency to a single leader, and a single trunk; definitely a tree, not a shrub.

The flowers are actually quite subtle in real life both in looks and fragrance, but the leaves make up for it (I'm a foliage person anyway, so at least I think so). The branch structure is lovely, very straight branches and consistent angles. It's also very tidy. The leaves stay on quite late into fall, don't do much colour changing, and then they're gone quite quickly. Granted, it's not above a deck so I might be missing something.

I don't know how big crepes get but I have to agree with Ink that from the perspective you've shown, a variety of canopy shape would look more appealing than three all the same. And incidentally, what would allow them to grow bigger is the relief from root competition of the pears, probably not sun alone.

I could also recommend Heptacodium, except it may be a problem with respect to bees. For me the fact that it attracts bees is a good thing, but might not be ideal on a deck. Mind you, in my yard the tree is close to the front porch and I can't say we have a bee problem. But again, this might be a smaller tree.

I have a bunch of young trees so in terms of long term experience I am not very useful. But I also enjoy my Parrotia.

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 5:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Some crapes can get quite big. Natchez, for instance, can get to 30'. I've linked to NC State's crape myrtle cultivar page below. If you are in our general zone...the NC State site is an EXCELLENT place to start doing research.

Super-fast growing trees frequently have weak branching structure--see "Bradford Pear". But,if you don't need a tree for the ages,think about a purple-leafed plum. There was one in the yard of this house when we moved in, and by the time it got black-knot fungus and we had to take it down, it was giving us a fair amount of shade. Say...four years? Same with the winter-blooming apricot.

Which leads me to echo what others have suggested...mono-culture may NOT be your friend if you are looking to avoid this situation again. Both the winter-blooming apricot and the purple-leafed plum got black-knot and had to come down. They are cousins, botanically. Mix it up!

Here is a link that might be useful: NC State Legerstroemia indica Cultivar List

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 2:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I concur with mjsee, many crapes--most--can become quite large. lots of images of this on Google. Now that I notice them per your comments, I see that they are holding hands...praying for the rapid demise of Bradfords. What's that?...I think I hear "We shall overcome" harmonized in the background.

I did think of one more possibility and it's another old flowering standard: Redbud. many good qualities and not many bad ones. Some cultivars available.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Thank you for that link, mjsee. Identifying suitable white crape myrtles is on my to-do list, but I hadn't gotten around to checking NCSU's Fact Sheets.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 8:29PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
garden design ideas for a raised brick flower bed.
Every year I try with all my might to do something...
Spacing for Armstrong Maple and Crimson Spire Oak
I plan to provide height to the borders of my backyard...
Bob Sislow
Where can I find buyers for these large boulders?
Hi we are thinking to re-landscape our yard. The previous...
Ditched my landscaper - yellow pine choice
Going to my local Camellia expert's nursery and just...
Need design help for this newbie!
My husband and I are undertaking what has turned out...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™