Trees to create an avenue

pscott1455(5)June 6, 2012

Our church in suburban Chicago has a long driveway (500') that is in full sun. I would like to create an avenue look with trees along the side that would frame and shade the drive in years to come. Thinking of Princeton Elms, Autumn Blaze Maple, Sugar Maple, and Red Oak for this project. Other suggestions and advice on trees, spacing, etc. Would want to start in fall 2012 and use 2/2.5 caliper trees.

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how about one side flowering trees and other just regular leaf trees. I'd reccomend Dogwood, Bradford Pear, Maple, SweetGum, Kwanzan, Mimosa, Crabapple, Weeping Cherry, Royal Empress, Evergreen, some conifers, Japanese maple (Make sure you have year round intrests like Oaks, fall color, Kwanzan's fall color, and Dogwoods color) All the trees there have intrests in at least 2 or more seasons

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:32PM
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My comment relates to the Autumn Blaze Maple which I would suggest not using due to the trunk bark splitting issues. My other thought is maintaining one genus/species along the entire length to provide a more formal look that IMO goes along with the church. And remember with the oaks, at some point in time you will have acorn debris to contend with and that could be an issue if the trees overhang the drive.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:41PM
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We are a pretty non traditional church, but I like the idea of similar species along the route.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:51PM
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The problem with using identical specimens is what happens in ten years when one dies?
The look is spoiled because you cannot replace what was lost- they will never "match" again.
Alternating species would be my suggestion for this reason alone.
I would include lots of conifers for winter interest- visit the conifer forum for inspiration. There are all manner of interesting colors and shapes. Add flowering trees and try to have something blooming every season possible. Finish off with a selection of deciduous shade trees with blazing fall color.
If you plan this correctly there won't be one single day of the entire year that the drive would not be stunning.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 7:55AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

no bradford pear ... much hated in this forum.. and in general ... it is said the flowers are reminiscent of rotting gym socks ... lol ..

i agree on diversification ... to avoid a 8th plague of the bible ...

i understand your need/want for instant gratification.. but i would suggest smaller than 2.5 inch caliper.. UNLESS ... this will be a professional WARRANTIED installation ... smaller trees take the stress easier.. become 'established' faster.. and can outgrow a larger transparent .. in a given 5 year period ...

be aware.. or research .. the progression of flowering trees ... e.g redbud in very early spring.. followed by magnolia.. then crabapple.. etc ... thru diversity.. you can have a 2 months show .. choose one.. and you get one week at best ...

your biggest issue.. over 500 feet.. will be PROPER WATERING... for 2 to 3 years ...

again .. will this be a professional installation???

and be aware.. that we usually suggest that trees are planted in the PROPER PLANTING SEASON ... which is when they are leafless .. not in june/july/august ... again.. unless some professional is willing to take the risk ...


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 8:08AM
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Okay, I am sold on diversifying the trees (and my portfolio). I will plan for color over several months spring and fall. And smaller is better. I want long term gain. Late October is when I have planted trees in the past with no fails (yet). So we will get on it then. Watering is a hassle, but without and Ark, it is what we will have to do. BTW, no warnings about the elm? Anything else here? I will post pics when we are finished.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 8:21AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I would mix large trees, and understory trees throughout the length. For example, start with a Scarlet Oak, followed by a Redbud, followed by a Sugar Maple, followed by a American Fringe Tree, followed by and Elm, followed by a Crabapple, etc. Following this type of arrangement then you can plant a tree about every 15-20'. I would also vary the cultivar, so if I had 5 Sugar Maples, then use 5 different cultivars, i.e. Fall Fiesta, Green Mountain, Legacy, Commemoration, Bonfire. Lastly, you won't want to plant 2-3 feet off the drive, you will want to be further away than that due to branches in the roadway, de-icing salt, etc.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 9:46AM
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orso(5 ?)

An avenue of Metasequoias would look awesome.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:03AM
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following what Marko suggested, below is a link that might be of interest.

Not an expert by any means on the subject but it seems to me the basic structure of the allee should be the same tree, then diversify using different understory plants - smaller trees and shrubs.

and I would suggest putting together several different designs and polling the congregation as to their likes and dislikes. That might draw out the process a bit, but could eliminate a lot of criticism later.


Here is a link that might be useful: Art of Allee

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 2:27PM
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I'd recommend groups of large trees together amd groups of small trees. What we typically see lately in landscaping on military bases is a run of one tree species(3-7) followed by a run (3-7) of a different tree species.
Larger trees often spaced 22-30' apart. Smaller flowering trees spaced at 12-20' apart. Stay native if at all possible. Install semi-permanent watering system for first 3 years or the labor of watering will kill you. Several of the same tree together tends to strengthen the effect of the species and makes it stand out more from a distance than interspersing single individuals. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 3:49PM
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Yes, an allee will, by definition, be composed of a single species. While I do of course understand the caveats with this concept, it is in reality the only way to achieve what I think you're reaching for. And while the American elm is both the poster child of why not to plant a monoculture, and the very epitome of the way in which this very repetition looks fantastic, there may be safe choices for doing just this. Oh and BTW, I really like the metasequoia idea.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 6:30PM
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I witnessed my first grand allee as a student going away to school in France. We passed through a stretch of immense, old trees for quite a stretch of road each week coming home for visits on the weekends. Yes, the single species has an impact no mixed allee will ever give you and achieving that impact does come with some risk, and why you don't see it very often. But when you

Are there walk-ways along this drive? This is where you will want to consider falling detritis like acorns, sweet gum balls, samaras, old fashioned crab apples, pine straw. Have worked with one church in town who has a crab with non persistant fruit. It's old and quite beautiful, but the fruits when squished underfoot can be a liability issue.

I've seen some really beautiful allees of London Plane and Linden. The metasequoia one presented earlier is awesome. I saw someone mention Royal Princess earlier. Uhm Paulownia......don't go there or any other miracle tree with claims too hard to believe.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:22PM
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There are no walks, and no plans for a walk. We are a suburban church on a busy thoroughfare. People drive to the church building. The building is only 4 years old. All the plants are fairly new. The shaded "allee" would be great in years to come. We do have wetlands and boundary areas on the property as well. This row of trees will be on the drive in and the south edge of the parking lot. Currently it is an open grass lawn. Again, if someone can instruct me on how to post a pic (I opened a Shutterfly account, but don't know how to link to this forum), I will give you a few shots of the project site.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Following up about what others have mentioned about planting all one species (monoculture):

1.) American Elm - decimated by Dutch Elm Disease.

2.) American Chestnut - decimated by another fungal disease.

3.) Ash Trees - dropping like flies due to Emerald Ash Borer.

4.) Oaks, particularly the Red Oak types - can suffer from Oak Wilt, which can spread via roots. Imagine your entire row, maybe on both sides, dying off. While not as big an issue as items 1 - 3, it's another example of how things can get rough on a monoculture setup.

5.) Some Arborvitae (not what you'd use, but an example of a monoculture issue) - a major bagworm infestation can be miserable hassle to deal with.

6.) While a pair of monoculture rows is neat & distinctive looking, you see one tree, you've about seem'em all. A pair of mixed rows at first glance seems less 'distinguished,' but look closer. The difference between maple & oak leaves, or willow oak from red oak, compare to black gum...and a beautiful mix of Fall colors could be near.

7.) If you want a species but it produces something problematic, there may be a cultivar that gets around that, like 'Rotundiloba' Sweet Gum if you don't want gum balls, or male Ginkgo trees to avoid the noxious fruit female trees eventually produce.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:20PM
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if i want to see a hodge podge of different trees, i go to an arboretum

the chance to create a grand allee is a rare thing. too often we don't have a sense of scale in landscape design or water it down with insipid design.

not that i'm opinionated. of reading the postings here...many are.

elms deserve a comeback. numerous varieties.

related...zelkova. spring grove, cultivar of note. fall color, superior hardiness.

maples. blah. a genus with more problems than i care to count. and the best species for street trees is the one everyone detests. go fuggur.

trees that have a tendency to drop fruit, branches, or are generally considered dirty don't make good street trees. silver maple, tulip tree, oaks, walnut. see a tend with this list? i'd go so far as to add sycamore and larch.

i'd avoid trees that have a reputation for breaking under heavy loads...such as magnolia. (i may consider certain varieties ( brackens brown beauty) but in trees with a tendency to short lives also...such as the flowering pears or flowering cherries.

honeylocust. male varieties. sweet gum. watch varieties.

the only reason i would consider planting a mix os if the congregation chooses to pay for the trees by allowing individual(s) to select a tree as a living memorial for (whoever was important to them) and in doing so wanted a tree that person was fond of or reminds the people of their dear ones. make sense? even then i'd try to manipulate the list of possibilities as much as possible. because people tend to thonk weeping cherries are pretty...but a heavy snow sure makes a mess of them and then they are a pain to clean up and that's not an issue you want on a primary access road.

i'm assumimg you going to be working with a local place? quick math tells me you are looking at 35? trees. assuming 30' spacing. i may be nuts...but ever think someone who lives in your area, is familiar with your climate, might be someone to talk to? does the town have a street tree department? granted, this is a private property, but you still want public vehicle access...including emergency vehicles.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:37PM
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pscott, here's a link for posting images using Photobucket - not sure how Shutterfly plays as far as html codes.


Here is a link that might be useful: posting images

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Pscott, I continue to consider the use of a single species to be the most impressive way to create an allee, all caveats known and understood. It is simply wrongheaded to think this cannot be done. If that were true, we wouldn't see the huge number of streets all across the nation lined with groupings of the same species. It doesn't always lead to catastrophic failure.

Also, and I don't know why I didn't mention this earlier, whatever tree is selected, or group of species should you go that route, should be of a type that will grow tall enough to form a canopy over the road eventually. As such, all little ornamental trees are off the list in this case. You want tall and widespreading species. That is, if you want things to end up the way I think you want them to.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:19PM
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back to the top

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 4:00PM
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I'm no expert, but I just started a thread yesterday regarding a tree I was very interested that may fit the bill here...the Accolade Elm. The reason I'm considering it it's supposedly resistant to both DED and Elm Yellows, but it would probably be a great fit for your project. My problem is I've had a difficult time finding it.

Another one you may want to consider is the London Plane Tree. I haven't grown one yet, but I've seem them planted like you're describing and they look great.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 4:30PM
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Great advice on a local nursery. I have worked with one on our home. I will follow up with them. Liking one or two types for traditional clean look. Leaning toward two of these five:

Princeton Elm
Swamp White Oak
Red Oak
White Oak (very slow, but gorgeous over time)
Sugar Maple (Commemoration?)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:23AM
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Plane trees are indeed excellent candidates, and are widely used.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:27AM
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..or sycamore.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 6:57PM
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