23 January 2007

Fast growing shrubs and trees

A dozen people have asked about fast growing shrubs and trees this week as we consider replacing our plantings.

There are three kinds of shrubs to consider: Deciduous, Evergreen and Coniferous.

Deciduous shrubs drop their leaves in the winter and include forsythia, viburnum, Euonymous, barberry, shrub rose, beauty berry, crape myrtle, and others.

Evergreen plants include holly, boxwood and pyracantha, nandina - heavenly bamboo, etc.

Coniferous shrubs include Thuja - American arborvitae, white pine, Canadian hemlock, Japanese yew, etc.

The disadvantage of so-called fast growing permanent, structural plants is that they tend to be weak and need to be pruned more often. Leyland cypress, frequently recommended in Oklahoma, can grow two or three feet a year. Fast growing trees like silver maple and the male pear trees, called Bradford pears split and tear in the wind (and ice!).

Consider your needs and resist selecting plants that say "fast growing" on the label. The one great use for those fast growing trees and shrubs is to plant them along side slower growing trees or shrubs such as oak or holly. The slow growers will be ready to take over about the fifth year, when the fast growers have to be removed.

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