By BJ Jarvis
So many times beautiful trees are crammed into small spaces on a residential lot or narrow commercial property. Stately live oaks that grow 100-feet tall and wide are often planted in communities ill equipped to handle such a large tree.
What is a gardener with a small space to do? No garden is complete without the grace and beauty of trees. Relying on pruning to keep a large plant in bounds is not a sound approach. Don’t even think about living without beautiful trees. Instead focus on plants that will thrive in a confined space.
Choose plants that are perfectly suited to smaller gardening spaces and those that will naturally mature into a height and width that fits your garden space.
Outstanding small trees well suited for this region’s conditions include:
–Hong Kong orchid tree
–Taiwan flowering cherry
Each of these grows no more than 25 feet tall or so and no more than 25 feet wide. Residents can be assured that plantings won’t be out of scale with the home and that the tree doesn’t take over the whole block.
Here are few extra tree-planting pointers:
–Don’t plant anything too close to the foundation. Use a garden hose to create a circle the size of the full tree width to get a better feel for future dimension.
–Stay 20 feet from house. For safety sake, position trees so they do not obstruct view of street or driveway.
–Often smaller trees have the more compact root system, but they generally don’t perform well in that skinny slice of green between the sidewalk and road.
–Groundcovers or perennials may be better suited so trees aren’t blamed for lifting the concrete later.
–When planting, make the hole two to three times wider than the tree’s container. Don’t go any deeper. Instead, keep the root ball1-2 inches above the landscape’s soil line.
–The bigger the tree at planting, the longer it takes to properly establish in the ground. Water is key. Without rainfall, water daily for the first one to two months, then three times per week for another one to two months and finally, weekly until established.
No fertilizer is needed for at least four to six weeks after planting because growers typically apply a slow-release fertilizer before plants leave the nursery.
For many of us, residential landscapes require careful selection of trees to provide a balanced landscape that don’t require lots of extra work. For more information about small tree for small landscapes, visit Pasco.ifas.ufl.edu/gardening.
–BJ Jarvis is the Pasco Cooperative Extension Director and Horticulture Agent. Extension is a partnership between the University of Florida, Pasco County government and the USDA. Readers can contact BJ at .
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