Why We Like Small Trees

When you think of trees you probably think of large soaring ones that are great for shade and tire swings, or of the evergreen Christmas tree variety. Trees come in all shapes and sizes and with all kinds of leaf shapes, colours and varieties. Some flower, some give us fruit, but all of them serve a purpose. If you love trees but have a lot in your yard already, perhaps you’d like a smaller one (or three) to add texture and colour. Here are just a few of the great little trees out there.

The Paperback Maple is an interesting tree as the cinnamon coloured bark peels off during the year. It adds dimension and texture as well as a talking point for your yard and this tree does great in all types of soil although it does like well drained soil, thanks all the same. It’s mature height is anywhere from 20-35′ but it is still considered a small tree and since its so undemanding, what are you waiting for? This tree is great for folks living in zones 4-8 across the country.

Ah, the Japanese Maple. What can we say about this beautiful tree? It’s graceful, it’s colourful and it’s a wonderful addition to any yard. It even comes in different varieties like weeping and upright so it can go almost anywhere. It is a great small shade tree and at it’s most mature it won’t grow more than 30 feet tall and wide, and the pretty leaves! Such pretty leaves. The Japanese Maple does best in zones 5-8.

If you are looking for a tree that has something to offer year round then you’ve found it in the Washington Hawthorne. In late spring you will get lovely white flowers. In the summer you get the texture and colour of dark green leaves and once fall hits, you can expect red and orange leaves to grace its branches. It’s not done then though, as deep into winter you will still see clusters of red berries against the graying sky. The one downfall is that yes, it has thorns, but that’s a small price to pay for all that interest. This tree does best in zones 4-8.

The Eastern Redbud opens spring with an explosion of pink flowers and it is adaptable to a wide range of soils. It’s great for yards within zones 4-9 and at full height it will only be around 30 feet. What a great way to decorate your yard!

Small Trees

Maybe you are looking to add more trees to your backyard but don’t know what to pick. Maybe you are scared of starting a forest as trees tend to grow, and grow, and grow. Maybe you just want some little accent to a deck area or around a pool. Well, you’re in luck because there are plenty of little trees to choose from that won’t go totally rogue on you in a few years and that will be pretty additions to your yard.

First up is the Fernleaf Fullmoon Maple, yes, it’s a mouthful, but this native Japanese species gives any yard a hit of colour and texture with its dense leaves. The medium green colour gives way to beautiful red, orange red or orange yellow leaves come fall, depending on the variety you choose, and while some can grow as much as 30 feet, there are smaller versions available too. These trees do well in zones 5-7.

The Crape Myrtle is another smaller tree that gives plenty of mid to late summer flowers, so you’ll have a pretty tree long after the others have stopped flowering. The trunk on this tree is varied in colour so it adds interest to your yard and there is a wide range of sizes available. You can also pick from a wide variety of flower colours with the Crape Myrtle, with choices that range from pink, lavender and rose to red or white. This type of tree does best in zones 7-9.

If you’re looking for a little tree with a wide canopy look no further than the Amur Maple. This can be grown as a large shrub or a small tree and will be the first to show it’s leaves come spring so your yard will have the first hit of colour on the block! It’s mature size is between 15-18 feet and it’s a great addition to yards within the zones 3-8.

The Fringe tree gets its name from the tons of white fleecy looking flowers that it produces each spring. It looks like a fringe with its dangling offering and of course, like with many species, there are many different varieties available. The fringe tree can tolerate a wide range of soils and is great for yards in zones 4-9 depending on the variety you choose.

So you don’t need a towering tree to have some impact on your yard. Sometimes the prettiest trees are also some of the smallest.

Best Climbing Trees

Climbing a tree is synonymous with long summer days and hanging out with friends. You feel like you’re one with nature, you can increase your self control, you can build your gross motor skills, and create critical thinking skills (because where you put your foot or hand next may not be the greatest choice you ever made) and it also gives kids and adults alike a sense of accomplishment. If the tree is especially tall or shaped in a way that makes it hard to climb that sense of accomplishment will be well deserved, but even just climbing a tree to sit in the branches and escape the world for a bit is something a lot of people like to do. So how do you pick the right tree to climb?

Of course you can’t go climbing just any tree. You have to make sure that the trunk is thick and the tree itself is sturdy. It helps as well if that first limb is no more than two feet off of the ground as it gives you something to start with that is an easy first step. Other than that, limbs spaced between twelve and twenty four inches apart up through the trunk makes for a great climber! Some trees that are great to climb include some varieties of maple trees and most varieties of oak, elm and mulberry.

The weeping willow is a beautiful tree that grows between fifty and seventy feet tall and we usually see them near rivers, creeks or marshes, really anywhere there is a nearby water supply. If you are looking to climb trees to then swing out over water or use the sturdy limbs as a diving board or jump off point then the weeping willow is for you! They need a lot of space to grow but they reward you with strong horizontal limbs to easily climb and their canopy is an enveloping mass of green leaves which give plenty of shade and great places to hide all in one.

Alternatively, the Anne E variety of the Crab Apple tree not only looks pretty in the spring when it flowers and the fall when bright red leaves appear, but it also has low branches that make it a perfect choice for climbing.

Whatever tree you choose to climb make sure you have the proper footwear and that you don’t go higher than where you feel comfortable. Above all, have fun!

Arboricultural Consultants Explain How to Deal With Dangerous Trees

Often times you will buy or rent a property with trees in the area. Sometimes these trees won’t stand up to the health test carried by arborists and as such, will need to be dealt with. It is important to note that you cannot just cut down a tree if you believe it is hazardous. You are obliged to ask for permission by your local council, unless the tree is regarded as dangerous, dying or is already dead.

However, if the tree in question is part of a Conservation Area or is included in some Tree Preservation Order, it is a good thing to give written notice several days before taking any action. As you and any arboricultural consultants identify a problem with trees, you need to provide proof that the tree was beyond any help. Few ways you can do this is by taking photographs, keeping some sections of decayed wood or any other relevant method of proof you can think of. Take special care of any bats in hollow and dead trees, as they are protected species.

Common concerns that you may have with your tree, which don’t necessarily mean something is wrong:

Too tall/big tree or tree with a broad crown – tall trees and trees with a broad crown aren’t dangerous per se, keep in mind. Some trees do grow tall, depending on what their type is. Furthermore, there may be outside stimuli, such as nearby structures, competition with other trees, soil, microclimate and a few others. With all factors concerned, a tree may end up reaching unhealthy dimensions, which may require further action.

Swaying in windy weather – all trees will sway in windy weather. Branches possess pliability, which is a natural mechanism for dealing with strong winds and is the only thing preventing fracture.

Leaning – a lot of trees grow with a lean, which isn’t a dangerous sign. Usually, when that happens, the tree will develop growth rings on the opposing side of the lean to balance it out. The main issue is when a vertical tree suddenly starts to lean.
Hollow tree – there are a lot of trees that have very little healthy tissue surrounding a hollow. However, it should be noted that some trees, while decaying on the inside, may still develop sapwood around the trunk, resulting in the formation of a cylinder. It may be strong enough to not warrant cutting, but this should be evaluated by an expert.

Know the difference between dangerous and defective trees. A lot of trees have some form of defect, which doesn’t mean they are dangerous. Defects take many forms: small decay pockets, minor dead wood or treatable fungal infection. It is important to note the severity of the defect and whether it makes the tree dangerous. For this reason, you can consult with arborists on site and then work out an action plan.

It is best to have any trees on your property inspected by professionals before taking further action. Arborists can tell you if a tree requires cutting down and can provide the necessary proof for this so you can have permission from the council.