Tree Ordering Time

Trees in the late summer of 2017


This is Round #3 of tree and shrub ordering from our local county conservation district to reforest or naturalize lands that had been used in the past by me and others as pasture. The plantings are on 5 acres of our 10 acres, with the other land either wetlands or lawn.

Let’s recap:

Plantings from 2012 and 2013:

    • 75 Eastern White Pine 10″+ seedlings
      • These have done quite well. Most are 6-8′ tall, even with the deer eating the growing tip, which leaves them more rounded at the top.  At this height, the deer will likely begin leaving them alone.
    • 50 White Spruce seedlings, 12″+
      • These also did quite well in most sites.  While they are not eaten by deer, in the past few years, deer have used some of them to scratch their antlers, leaving the tops stripped of needles, slowing their growth.  Some may not have recovered from this.  Average height about 4′.
    • 25 Black Hills Spruce seedlings, 12″+
      • These were largely a flop.  They are a subspecies of white spruce, but they seem to need a different soil (perhaps not as acidic) and better drainage than I provided. Average height 2′, with a less than 20% survival rate.
    • 5 White Spruce transplants, 36″+
      • These are the same as the white spruce seedlings, and after 5 years are pretty indistinguishable from them.  I think one of the five died.  These trees planted at 36+ inches need a lot more attention (watering, soil prep) in their initial days. Like the seedling spruce planted at the same time, they average only slightly taller than 4′
    • 25 Norway Spruce, about 12″
      • About 75% mortality, likely because of severe dry then wet conditions the first year.  The ones that made it through that year have done well. Non-native, this wasn’t planted in “wild” areas.
    • 25 Red Oak, 18″
      • These mostly did OK.  There was quite a bit of initial mortality within the first year, from unknown causes and rodent girdling.  They seem to grow faster than their trunk’s diameter can support, resulting in some succumbing to winds in recent years.  Present height varies, mostly 3′ with some 6′.  I have tied up one in hopes of saving it.
    • 10 Red (Norway) Pine, 8-24″
      • These have done well.  They are growing almost as fast as the White Pines, and aren’t preyed upon as much (at all?) by the deer.  Average height 5-6′, with about 80% surviving.
    • 10 Arrowwood (Shrub) 12-18″
      • These are planted in both sunny and somewhat shaded areas, with the plants in the less sunny (& less windy) areas doing better, at about 4′.  It could be that the deer are eating down the other ones more often, as they definitely munch on this.
    • 25 Hazelnut (Shrub) 12-18″
      • These guys are slow to take off.  I think I have about 60% survival, with only one of the 15 or so shrubs producing nuts at 4 years.  It was still exciting and I consider these a success.  As they self-spread, I will probably rely on existing shrubs rather than future purchases to expand their numbers.
    • 25 Tamarack 6-12″
      • Sadly, these seem to be 100% lost.  As they are planted in wetter areas, I don’t think they were able to compete with the nasty reed canary grass that has taken over wetlands and damper areas of old pastures.  I saw a few after three years, but haven’t seen them since.  There is a slight chance a few survived and will poke up through wetland grasses.
    • 25 Bur Oak 12-18″
      • While there was a lot of first year mortality (~50%), these slow-growing seedlings are great.  Average height is still below 2′, but they seem very sturdy now.
    • 25 Silver Maple 2-3′
      • There was a bit of deer predation and a lot of rodent predation, but these are doing well, as expected.  They are mostly taller than the red maples, but there have been some losses from winds and deer just knocking them over.  They average about 4′ but many are 3′ or 5 or more’.
    • 25 Red Maple 2-3′
      • A deer favorite, these are only allowed to grow as tall as a surrounding cage, unless I spray them religiously with Plantskyyd.  Probably 20 or more of these are still alive, some looking more like 20″ shrubs.  If deer populations are allowed to go up and down naturally, these trees would do well.  However, deer are managed by the state for the hunting revenue, and their numbers are always kept too high.  These red maples will only do well with a lot of protection from deer.
    • 25 Red osier dogwood (Shrub) 18″
      • All except two of these were eaten to the ground their first season.  If they were protected from deer year round, and rodents in the colder months, they would have done very well.  Height about 6′.
American Hazelbrush nuts
American Hazelbrush nut


Since these plantings, more research has been done regarding tree choice in relation to climate change.  I balance this with what I have observed on this land now, knowing that a shift of species is likely, as always, in the future.

White pines are not expected to do well this far south in coming years, but will do OK a bit further north.  Red pine, due to its lack of genetic diversity, is susceptible to a large kill-off and may disappear altogether.  White spruce, which do quite well here presently, are not expected to be able to handle the climate in coming years due to pests from warmer areas popping up locally.

Silver maple, bur oak, basswood and hackberry are expected to do well, while Red Maple and Red Oak could do OK.

We have been losing a lot of oak, particularly red oak, to oak wilt in resent years.  I may have two affected trees, which isn’t good.  Nobody is planting (green or black) ash trees, which are the most abundant tree in the state, until the emerald ash borer is under control.

Here is what I have ordered for planting in late April of this year:

  • 25 Eastern White Pine 12″
    • Based on the success of past plantings
  • 25 Silver Maple 15″
    • I have some volunteers of yard trees that I’ve been planting too.  These others will hopefully increase genetic diversity
  • 25 Golden Willow 18″
    • These aren’t native and will be used in wetter areas of the yard (not reforested areas) to soak up moisture and block winds.
  • 25 Highbush Cranberry (American Cranberrybush) 10″
    • Ive seen this growing in area woods.  It is a beautiful large shrub that has great value to wildlife.  It is a native viburnum, not a real cranberry.
  • 5 Basswood, 3-4′
    • I have 2 of these growing slowly but healthily already,  They do quite well.
  • 5 Hackberry, 3-4′
    • I’m not very familiar with this tree, but it is a species that is common around here and expected to out-compete some natives in coming years.
American Cranberrybush

I’m considering getting few more bur oak if I’m ambitious.  Our local county conservation district doesn’t offer them.  In the past, I’ve traveled a few counties away to get them.


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