Which large tree for my yard

elofgrenMay 3, 2014

We're looking at having a "large" tree transplanted to our yard by a local nursery. It'll be in an open yard on the north side of our house, with easy room of about 50' diameter before it would touch the house on one side or the power lines on the other.

We're in SW Michigan, zone 5ish. It'll go in the foreground of the picture:
(note that all the landscaping near the house is being redone as well).

All the large trees in the area are maple, so we're thinking we'd like to be different. I use a reel mower, so I'm not sure I love the thought of acorns. We're leaning toward tulip poplar right now.

Here's the list of available shade trees from our chosen nursery. Any advice welcome!

Norway Maple, Red Maple, Red Oak, Pin Oak, English Oak, Sycamore (London Plane Tree), Linden, Sweet Gum, Tulip Poplar, River Birch, Honeylocust

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Nice house.

I vote for the Liriodendron tulipifera, tulip poplar I guess you all call it up there. My theory is there aren't 100 on your street already. I'd pick it in fall based on which has the best yellow fall color. There are winners out there.

2nd choice is Quercus rubra, the red oak. Again, pick in the fall if you want decent fall color.

Pin oak is over planted and it bores me. Sycamore is a bit too messy but does have winter interest. The two maples are over planted and a red maple which is not a named cultivar is very variable. Sweet gum I like but them spiney balls. Honeylocust is actually ok. River birch I might be locally biased against.

How big of a transplant are you getting? Get that warranty in writing. Big transplants worry me.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/Plants/l/lirtul/lirtul1.html

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 10:26PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

A smaller tree that you could plant yourself will cost less and, more importantly, have a much greater chance of survival. Just like children, younger trees adapt and acclimate (heal) much more quickly. And from there on, it will be a healthier tree than a mature, transplanted tree because it matured in situ ("in position"). A mature tree will cost significantly more and take much longer to acclimate. It will have the potential to be lost for a year or more.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 10:51PM
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"Norway Maple, Red Maple, Red Oak, Pin Oak, English Oak, Sycamore (London Plane Tree), Linden, Sweet Gum, Tulip Poplar, River Birch, Honeylocust"

My thoughts from your list...

Norway Maple - in some areas invasive, and I see no major advantage if you want a maple, and from your post, you don't.

Red Maple - pretty big, but again, you didn't want a maple.

Red Oak - nice. There'll be acorns, which are wild life food. Not everybody likes acorns.

Pin Oak - huge tree, tends to send leaves down towards the ground (& may keep trying if you limb it up), and it can get chlorotic in alkaline soil. Oak is good, but I'd go for something besides pin oak. Oh, I believe pin oak may tend to hold their leaves in winter, which I like but some don't. Some oaks do, some don't.

English Oak - gotta wonder what the advantage of the non-native would be vs. native oaks.

Sycamore - really fast growing potentially enormous tree that drops huge leaves that some believe can aggravate some people's allergies if you mow & stir them up. I know you've got a big place, but considering the ultimate size, are you really wanting a tree that ENORMOUS?

Sweet Gum - there's a cultivar called Rotundiloba that lacks the spike balls, but the leaf points are blunt. Those spike balls are annoying on regular sweet gum.

Tulip Poplar - nice looking, fast growing, well-liked it seems.

River Birch - said to be a fairly short-lived tree (well, for a tree). Not sure what those cute multi-trunk/clump specimens look like when they get really large!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:15PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Quercus alba.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:00AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Of that list, I would take the Tulip Poplar.

Other suggestions, if that nursery has or can get them:

Sugar Maple - a maple, but a better one than red or Norway, and not QUITE as common as the other two in many areas

Scarlet Oak - superior to either of the oaks on your list - not quite as pH sensitive as Pin Oak, smaller acorns than Red oak, better fall color than either.

American Yellowood - bonus of white flowers in late spring (google it, they are gorgeous) and nice bright yellow fall color.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:40AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Add to the Yellowwood, that the flowers can have a very nice fragrance. Plus the spreading umbrella shape is hard to beat.

Sassafras - Sassafras albidum grows to a nice size and you can not beat it for fall color. Has unusual leaves, and far from your everyday yard tree, though very common in wild areas in many parts of the country. Can easily grow 2-3'/year if happy.

Blackgum - Nyssa sylvatica grows to a nice size and is increasing in popularity. Several selections have become available as of late with Wildfire probable being the most common. Several members here have had some issues in planting WF. Those that I have seen leaf earlier than most and can often be frost/freeze bitten. For these reasons a northern seed source species tree might work better for you, or perhaps the selection 'Forum' which may be more cold adapted. A happy Blackgum can grow 2+'/year.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Liriodendron is one of the largest eastern trees and will probably dwarf that house in time. It can also sometimes have a problem with reaching a good size and then starting to fall apart, in the manner of a cottonwood or silver maple - two other big, vigorous deciduous trees that often form a proportion of heavy limbs that are much bigger than the rest.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:18PM
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your house looks more like an elm house.....I would go with american elm 'princeton' or one of the other DED resistent varieties......go to botanyshop.com they have decent sized ones available. if not go with the red oak....they will out live most of the other trees you listed and they tend not to break in storms like tulip trees

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:12PM
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I have to agree that Q. alba would look quite spectacular in that setting. If you've got a young family and expect to be in the home for a long time, you'll be rewarded with a magnificent tree that will provide a lifetime of memories. You've got a nice home and White Oak would only add to the beauty and value of it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 8:28PM
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We had a chance yesterday to see the trees on offer and really loved the look of the older tulip poplars, even before blooming. So, we selected a younger one (4" diameter) and it will be planted in a couple weeks. The tree guy thought if he used his "big" tree spade he could get basically all the roots, undisturbed.

I'll post pictures here once the job is done. Thanks all for the great comments! I wish we had room for more than one tree; white oak would indeed look great as well.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:06AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Understand how large a tuliptree can get, and plant at an appropriate distance from the house. It will grow faster than you think -- 40' tall after 9 seasons for mine, even tho it's somewhat shaded.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:25AM
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Thanks beng. We have around 50 feet from our house to some power lines, and we'll plant it right in the middle. I understand they typically don't get more than about 30 feet across. Plenty of room for it to grow tall though, and that's fine by me. Did you water yours?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:31PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

No (except the first few yrs) -- it's near my border stream. Moist enough even during the worst dry periods.

The only thing -- it hasn't put out a single bloom so far.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:46PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Beng, yours should start soon I would think.

My neighbor has a great one. It is probably fifteen years old and thirty or more feet tall. It has bloomed for the last several years.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:56PM
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Why pick just one when you have room for 3 of those on your list? I have a white oak, black birch, dogwood, and 3 big leaf aspen in my yard which is probably about 2/3 the size of yours. Don't stop with the tulip poplar.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Pin oak on one side for a fast growing shade tree, and White oak Quercus Alba on the other side to take center stage in the future, once it gets some size to it, and the Pin declines. I think the Quercus Alba is the best oak for zone 5, but grows slow, so the pin will wow you quickly, but the Q. Alba will live for centuries 2 or 3 likely.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:11PM
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