Spring into action! Are you ready for the spring planting season?

Spring is nearly here and we couldn’t be more excited. Soon we will be enjoying the beautiful colors and fragrances of spring trees and shrubs – like the dogwood, Japanese flowering cherry and of course the lilacs.

Japanese Cherry Bloss

Japanese flowering cherry

Now is the perfect time begin your spring planting planning and ordering! The Arbor Day Foundation Online Tree Nursery has a large array of affordable trees and shrubs. You will find fast-growing trees, flowering trees, fruit trees and every tree in between. And we will send your trees to you during the optimal time to plant in your zone, ensuring their health and longevity.

Or maybe you need some landscape design inspiration? Arborday.org has free, professionally designed landscape plans that focus on trees and shrubs, available to download for free. For example, we have a plan called flowering green giant, this a design plan combining a beautifully contrasting trio of trees—the rich green of a green giant arborvitae, the sprightly, springtime yellow of forsythia, and the dazzling profusion of white blooms that grace the yoshino cherry tree. Other designs include the a bird-attracting tree/shrub combination (Bird Magnet Hedgerow), a blooming shrub plan set beneath an existing shade tree (Shrubs Under a Shade Tree) , a flowering tree/hedge plan planted along an existing wood line (Flowering Woods Edge) – just to name a few.

Bird Magnet Design

Bird Magnet Hedgerow Design

If you already have your trees and are ready to plant consider reading our 9 Tree Care Tips & Techniques, an easy-to-follow guide that takes you step by step from selecting and planting the right tree, to the care and upkeep of a mature tree. Remember, what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span. Planting done with care and some knowledge of trees and their needs will help your trees grow more rapidly and live at least twice as long as improperly planted trees.

Finally, before you get that hole dug and your new tree planted, make sure you’ve got “Right Tree in the Right Place.” Planting an appropriate tree in an appropriate location is vital for the health and longevity of the tree as well as your satisfaction with it—for example, a tree too close to the house could be a hazard, and a tree with “too-tall” potential will be unlikely to remain if it interferes with a power line overhead.

Right Tree Right Place

Are you gearing up for spring planting season? What do you plan to plant this year? Please let us know in the comments.

Tree and Shrub Rain Garden Design

Tree and Shrub Rain Garden Design

Turn a moist or poorly drained area of your yard into a beautiful garden that provides year round color and habitat for songbirds. The trees and shrubs in this design have been selected both for their beauty and their ability to thrive in moist areas.

Rain Garden Specifications:

Included Species:

1 – Sweetbay Magnolia

3 – Redosier Dogwood

3 – Winterberry Holly

Hardiness Zone:

5-7

Read more…

Top Trees for Winter Landscaping

Many gardeners are proud of their spring, summer and autumn gardens, but they find winter landscape design very difficult.  

There are many trees and shrubs which may add a lot of color with their red or yellow berries, or unusual bark hues.  Others, like evergreen trees, add visual interest in black and white landscape.  Many of those trees attract wild birds providing them with food and shelter. 

When you are looking for your winter trees, choose trees with berries, lovely bark or interesting branch pattern. 

Read more…

Fall Foliage Trees: The Good, the Bad and the Invasive

We take our consolations in life where we can. I live in a cold climate and dislike the onset of winter, which brings harsh weather, along with shoveling snow, scraping ice off car windshields, etc. As if the dreariness and the drudgery weren’t bad enough, winter robs me of one of my chief passions in life: my outdoor plants. Oh, sure, I can still enjoy my evergreen shrubs and ornamental grass; and other plants inject some visual interest into the winter landscape via interesting branching patterns and whatnot. But none of this makes up for the loss I’ve suffered. I’ll mourn till spring.

That’s why I drain every ounce of satisfaction out of fall foliage season. Whether it’s “leaf peeping” on vacation or selecting superior fall foliage plants for my own yard, fall foliage is a big deal to this Hyperborean: It’s my ultimate consolation as another long winter stares me in the face.

Read more…

Smoketree

If you should ever find yourself luxuriating in the French Riviera, and in the unlikely event you grow tired of the sand and sea, a walk in the hills will introduce you to the unique woodlands of the Mediterranean.   There, among the scrubby oaks and umbrella pines you will find a familiar bush or small tree, the European smoketree – in its native environment.

There are only two species of trees in the genus Cotinus.  One is the American smoketree, the other is its close relative from Europe.  For both, their claim to fame is the wispy clumps of filaments that look all the world like smoke.  The mirage has given rise to other names such as mist tree, cloud tree, wig tree, and Jupiter’s beard.  By whatever name, the site of this tree is what Minnesota garden writer Don Engebretson has called “one of the most arresting shrubs available to…gardeners today.”
Read more…

Dogwood: Beautiful Tree With Many Uses

Writer-naturalist Donald Peattie once wrote, “Lovely as it is, dogwood stoops also to be useful.”

What’s in a Name?

For all the beauty of this tree, the common name of dogwood may come from something less lovely – “dagger.”  This, in turn, may actually come from its early use as a skewer, or thin piece of wood used to hold meat together.  The tendency of its wood to not splinter made it popular for this purpose.

The scientific genus name, Cornus, derives from the Latin, cornu, or horn, in reference to another use of its hard wood.  The species name, florida, is also from Latin, flos, meaning flowery. 

Seasonal Color

The blossoms of dogwood add a welcome touch of color in early spring.  If space allows, the white can be accentuated with a background of conifers.  Bright autumn foliage and red berries that linger into winter add a bold stroke of color to any landscape design. Read more…

Designing Underneath a Shade Tree

The Arbor Day Foundation approached me about designing several plant combinations that their members and fans could use to create plantings of aesthetic interest and which provide function in the landscape.  Over the next few months I will be sharing information behind these plant combinations and how they can be used as “do  it yourself landscape designs”.  Previously I outlined the Hedgerow Bird Shelter, aka the Bird Magnet planting.  Let’s now explore the Shade Tree Planting. 

Shade Tree Planting

While working on the design for the Shade Tree Planting, the primary goal was to produce an attractive planting that could be installed below a mature shade tree.  Often times the area below a mature shade tree becomes problematic for the homeowner due to the canopy of the  mature tree shading out the turf below as well as the trees surface roots sometimes becoming unattractive.  The Shade Tree Planting is designed to be installed below the canopy of a mature shade tree and offer months of flowering interest. Read more…

Adding Fruit Trees to your Landscape Design

As the Apple Orchard Manager at Arbor Day Farm, I often get questions about how to create a fruit orchard in a home or landscape setting.   There are several items that you should consider to make sure you find a tree that is right for you.

Buy Apple Tree

Determine the Right Fruit Tree for your landscape

Step 1: When choosing a fruit tree in your yard or home, the first consideration is the growing zone in which you live.

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Designing Bird Habitat in Your Yard

The Arbor Day Foundation approached me about designing several plant combinations that their members and fans could use for plantings of aesthetic interest and which provide function in the landscape. During the next few months, I will be sharing information behind these plant combinations and how they can be used as “do it yourself landscape designs.” All of the plant combinations are available online now. 

Hedgerow Bird Shelter aka the Bird Magnet
When designing the Hedgerow Bird Shelter plant combination two basic goals were desired. 1) To design a planting which would be attractive to birds by way of food and shelter, and 2) provide visual interest for all seasons.
Read more…