What are Ornamental Trees?
These trees are usually small with special features like interesting bark, showy flowers, or eye-catching foliage. An ornamental tree also has a pleasing shape and fits easily into modern yards. This may seem like a tall order of outstanding characteristics, but the “ornamental” part of the description means that the trees are selected and bred to deliver in a big way.
The main feature, however, is that the size is smaller than majestic shade trees.
Using Smaller Size Trees
Because of the more compact dimensions, a greater number of this type may be included in a suburban landscaping plan. The shorter heights may not interfere as much with overhead lines. (Though it is still wise to give utility lines a wide berth from your trees).
Read more about Positioning Trees in Your Yard on Ilona’s Garden website.
Ornamental Trees Tip #1 for Success
(1) Even though more trees can be planted, avoid a “spotty” look. One of the key rules of good design is to repeat elements in a cohesive way. With ornamental trees, choose to have groups of the same choice, or use the primary cultivar in several spaces within the landscape plan.
Dotting a different tree into each possible spot create a disjointed effect that lacks harmony. It is a common mistake made with perennials. The same rule applies to ornamental trees, perhaps more so.
I edge very close to disregarding this design principle at times. Something of a “collector” there is a wide selection of many desirable trees in the ornamental class. But the rule is to use a number of one plant, the effect being so much more pleasing.
Success Tip #2
(2) Choose specimens that do well in your climate zone and planting conditions. Nothing undermines the good looks of your landscaping than unhealthy trees. Or worse: dead ones! Buy from a reputable local nursery for best results or do your research to discover which of the ornamental trees thrive best on your property.
- Soil pH
- Soil structure: sandy, loamy, or clay
- Drainage is very important. Good or poor drainage, and whether the tree tolerates the moisture levels of the soil.
- Insect and Disease problems likely in your area. Some trees are resistant to problems and some much more susceptible.
Tip #3: Visit an Arboretum
This is one of my favorite tips for successful landscaping of all types. Visit a local arboretum. In my own area of Ohio we have two that I love, Chadwick and Dawes Arboretum.
No book can match the real world lessons of how a plant may look at maturity in the yard. While trips to parks and neighborhoods are great places to pick up ideas on ornamental trees to plant, the Arboretums will provide the names and placement inspiration. Taking notes can be as simple as snapping photos of favorites and their plant labels.Learn from Arboretums
Making a Garden Plan to Include Ornamental Trees
With these tips, once the trees are in place, bring bulbs and groundcovers to the base of the trees to accentuate the beauty of the season they are most attractive. Many will “play nice” with perennials and other plantings to create lovely pictures in a chosen season.
Dogwoods with spring flowering bulbs and Virginia bluebells is a scintillating spring example. Think of your own, and make pictures that bring special beauty to your property.
Are You Ready To Plant?
With these 3 tips to guide your landscape plan, choose some ornamental trees which match your situation and conditions. Fall is an ideal time to plant trees. For most species it is better than the spring. Put together a plan that includes those chosen for fragrance (Crabapples, Witch hazels), winter interest (Contorted Hazel, Stewartia Pseudocamellia), or autumn color (Acer palmatum spp, Fringe trees).
These are only a few of myriad choices available, and if you match the choice to the property (tip #2) this may well be your favorite part of the garden landscape.
Robin Ruff Leja says
I’m such a big fan or ornamental trees! If only I could get hubby interested in planting them for me…Ha ha
Ilona Erwin says
I get my crew to dig the holes, which I find to be the hardest part for me nowadays. The planting isn’t so onerous since I buy smaller size container grown trees to start with. I concentrated on shrubs in my yard- but wish I had some little groves of the ornamental trees- especially Amelanchier laevis! I tend to be ane-off plant collector instead. Maybe your hubby could be talked into helping with one absolute favorite?