Trees for Lawns
In order to be a good tree to grow in a lawn it needs a number of things going for it. In particular a good lawn tree:
1.Should be deciduous, meaning it should loose all of its leaves in winter. This will let in light in wintertime, when light levels are lowest. Deciduous trees also do not block any warming winter sunlight from reaching house. Trees on south or east sides of any house should always be deciduous, never evergreen. 2.Should have roots that do not creep upward into lawn where they’ll be hit by lawnmowers. Roots that grow up into lawn are a real pain, hard to get rid of, and will easily ruin a lawnmower. 3.Should be attractive, or why else even plant it? 4.Should be fairly easy to grow, not too fussy. Always select trees that are know to be disease resistant. 5.Should be able to adapt to irrigation a lawn will receive. Certain trees grow well in lawns and others, such as oaks, do not. Plant lawn trees that will thrive in a lawn area, even if it is frequently irrigated. 6.Should be a type of tree that will not have a negative allopathic effect on lawn. For example, eucalyptus or walnut trees produce a substance that kills off other plants below them. 7.Should produce shade that is not too deep. No grass can grow in deepest shade. Branches on lawn trees should ideally be kept fairly high. 8.Should not produce a lot of allergenic pollen. There’s no point in planting a tree that will make you sick every year.
*Note: No lawn tree will grow well when it is young if grass is allowed to grow right up to its trunk! I can’t stress this enough. A young tree in a lawn should have an area underneath it that is kept totally grass-free for first 4-5 years of tree’s growth. If lawn is permitted to grow right next to trunk of a young tree, tree’s growth will almost always be stunted. Even after this period of time it is better to either keep area immediately under tree grass-free, or to plant a low-growing groundcover under it. Trunks of young trees should never be hit with weedwackers. String- trimmers ruin tender bark of many young lawn trees, and then stunt their subsequent growth. Keep a clean area a minimum of 3’wide under any new lawn tree. Even though a lawn has shallow roots and there is little point in watering lawns much deeper than a foot, trees will develop deep roots. To make sure your new tree grows those deep, drought resistant roots, give it a really good soaking once a month from spring until fall. Just put a garden hose near base of tree, turn it on low, and let it soak for a long time. Watch mulch around trunks of young trees! Mulching trees is a good idea but keep mulch a few inches away from actual trunk of young tree. In wintertime, especially where there is snow cover, it is a darn good idea to put a wrap of ¼ inch mesh chicken wire around trunk, to keep mice and rabbits from eating tender young bark. Many a new tree is killed because of wintertime damage to trunk from rodents. If you live in an area where winter temperatures get below zero F, it is a good idea to paint trunks of new lawn trees white. The white paint will reflect winter sun, and will keep sap from warming up and starting to flow in middle of winter. Painted trees are much less likely to get “winter sun scald,” which is what they call it when bark cracks and splits open, usually on south side of trunk. Use indoor grade white latex paint for this, and it is perfectly okay too, to paint some of larger branches. This painting can be repeated each fall with good effect until tree is about 7-8 years old. As trees mature their bark will thicken and toughen up, and will naturally be more resistant to freezing and winter sun. Make sure to fertilize new trees twice each season. Use a fertilizer high in N, nitrogen, in springtime, and a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in potassium in fall. Lawn grass that grows under trees may well need a bit of extra fertilizer through growing season, as tree roots will absorb much of lawn fertilizer as well. There are devices with long, hollow spikes on them that screw on end of a hose. You put fertilizer for tree in these contraptions, shove spike down deep into tree’s root zone, and turn on hose. This is a good way to fertilize lawn trees. Existing trees and planting new lawns Many a nice lawn tree has been killed when owner decides to plant a new lawn, and hauls in extra topsoil to spread. If you cover roots of a tree with several inches of additional soil, you may easily smother tree roots, killing tree. If soil around an existing tree needs to be raised, then you need to build a “tree well,” an area around tree, at least four feet wide, where original soil level is maintained. This is especially important with oak trees, which will quickly die if soil level is raised right up to trunk. Manure and lawn trees Never put manure right up to trunk of a lawn tree. Fresh manure in particular is especially toxic to young trees. I have seen some pretty nice, large trees killed when their owners mulched them with a thick layer of supposedly “well-cured” horse manure. Even with compost, don’t place it right next to trunk of tree!
Twenty-five Recommended Trees for your Lawn
1.Red Maple ‘Autumn Glory’: Zones 3-9. a large, rounded, handsome female, pollen-free tree, loses its leaves, easy to grow in bluegrass lawns. Great fall color. 2.Red maple ‘’October Glory’: Zones 3-9 a female, pollen-free tree, does especially well in lawns and does not cast a deep lawn killing shade. 3.Red maple ‘Bowhall,’ Acer rubrum ‘Bowhall,’ is an attractive, pollen-free deciduous female tree, with excellent fall color. It grows narrowly upright and is a good lawn tree for smaller yards. Shade is not dense. 4.Crabapple ‘Molten Lava,’ Malus species, Zones 4-9. A smaller, very pretty, flowering crabapple tree, to 10’ tall, with great flowers in spring and small red fruits in fall. Does fine in well-drained lawns, and is an especially disease resistant tree.