Sweet Bay Magnolia For Landscaping

johnaw(z5 OHIO)November 8, 2008

I have a question about the Sweet Bay Magnolia tree, in my landscaping plans I have the Sweet Bay Magnolia tree on the Northwest corner of my house and where it goes there is a drainage tile that would be right under it, I am afford that the roots will get into this tile and cause me allot of trouble. I would like to know what your feeling are on this and if you can tell me if this is the right tree for this area? The tile is around 3 feet in the ground.

Is this Magnolia a fast grower and also can one keep this tree at a height and width that one would like? Does it's roots go deep? If anyone has this tree can you tell me the good, bad and what you love about this Magnolia?

Would there be another tree that could take it's place?

Yes this corner does get shade from a Ash Tree.

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There's a couple of thoughts that come to mind.....

First when you say "drain tile" do you mean something like a French drain that directs water away from specific areas to a larger drain system or receiving pond? Sweet Bays are water lovers and while not particularly deep rooted (most magnolias tend to be quite shallow rooted and often produce quantities of surface roots) or troublesome with regards to root development, a source of ongoing moisture that close to the planting area could very well compromise the drain system over time.

Second, Magnolia virginiana is typically listed to a hardiness zone 5. While some clones are reputed to have somewhat better hardiness characteristics, I'd be a bit leery of planting a tree that offers borderline hardiness for your area. It can be a big investment in time and money for something that may not survive that unusually harsh winter that comes along every so often.

Finally, it's never a great idea to attempt to restrain a tree to a particular size by pruning. Controlling size to a predetermined height/spread that you and not the tree prefers is often detrimental to the health of the tree and could shorten its lifespan. It is far better to allow the tree to assume its natural size and prune only to enhance its habit or to remove dead or diseased limbs.

There is a concept in garden design that stresses the "right plant for the right place" and this particular choice sounds like maybe it is NOT the right plant for that space. Is there a reason why a tree is needed in that location or would something smaller and more shrubby and less water loving work as well?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 10:41AM
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johnaw(z5 OHIO)

The tile that I am talking about is where my Eves on my house runs into the Storm Sewer.

I was looking for a tree that would gave me color and beauty, something that would be different. Like I said if anyone would have a better idea on what would look very good in the Spring, Summer and Fall please let me know what kind of tree would be best suited here? Looking for color.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 1:50PM
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Sweet Bay Magnolia is a lovely tree (finally got one for my yard), but gardengal makes some good points above, especially about being at the limit of its hardiness zone.

I'm still not clear on what you mean about the drain tile, but will offer a suggestion anyway ... another of my favorites: Amelanchier, aka serviceberry, shadblow, shadbush and many other names; this tree is native to the U.S.

'Princess Diana' is a nice one, rated as being winter hardy to zone 3. Here's a description from one of my favorite nurseries:

"...multi-stemmed small tree with wide-spreading branches and multiple seasons of interest! Yellowish buds open to delicate white flowers in early Spring ... has disease-resistant leathery green leaves in Summer which turn a beautiful red-orange in the Fall. Birds feast on the bluish fruit. Amelanchiers are NE US natives which are tolerant of damp soil."
Growing Zones: 3 - 8 (hardy to -35°F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun/Partial Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist, well-drained
Bloom Color/Season: White/Early(April)
Foliage Color: Dark Green
Habit: Vase
Width: (at 10 years) 8 - 12 ft.
Height: (at 10 years) 15 - 20 ft.

AMELANCHIER x grandiflora 'Princess Diana'

I understand the berries are tasty - if you can get to them before the birds do!

There are so many great small trees and larger shrubs from which to choose - I'm sure you'll find one that suits both your taste and the site.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:25AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Why do you need to put it so close the the house? Trees usually look best where they have room to be themselves anyway. Can you plant it further away?

What kind of size constraints do you have in the spot where you want to put the tree? A photo might enable people to offer more suggestions.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:32PM
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