When New Jersey homeowners start thinking about planting trees (in NJ, Arbor Day is always the last Friday in April), we think of the trees that maybe we climbed in our childhood or maybe put a swing on or built a tree house in. I think of Maples, or Oaks or maybe an Elm.
I'm going to advocate for the Northern Red Oak. The Northern red oak is commonly planted as a landscape tree in eastern North America -- used as a shade tree on lawns, parks, campuses, golf courses, etc, where space is sufficient. It is fast growing, easy to transplant, tolerant of urban conditions (including dry and acidic soil and air pollution), the abundant nuts attract wildlife, and the leaves develop a brick-red fall color.
Oaks are great trees to plant in your yard but has suffered from a "slow growth" image to the favor of planting quick growing, short-lived native and exotic trees. But not the Northern Red Oak.
In many forests, this deciduous tree grows straight and tall, to 90 ft, exceptionally to 140 ft tall, with a trunk of up to 20–40 in diameter. Open-grown trees do not get as tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 6 ft in diameter. It has stout branches growing at right angles to the stem, making it a great "kids" tree. It grows rapidly, under good conditions, northern red oak is fast growing and a 10-year-old tree can be 15–20 ft tall, and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations It is frequently a part of the canopy in an oak-heath forest.
Besides adding value to your home, a tree can:
- Filter pollution from the air
- help recycle water
- prevent soil loss
- create shade
- provide homes for animals
- and many, many more advantages.
Did I mention that the Northern Red Oak is also the State Tree of New Jersey.
In general, the best time for planting trees is late winter or early spring. If that doesn't fit your schedule, then aim for autumn. Summer's a bad choice, because the weather's too hot and the actively growing plants too susceptible to damage. Weather also restricts your options in the winter because the cold causes the ground to freeze.
So now's the time!
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