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December 30, 2017

QuestionI would love your opinion on a foundation planting tree that I could use in front of a tall and hot front window facing south in Conway.  Currently there is a low growing Japanese maple but I would love some shade and relief from the sun.  The tree would actually be in the front flower bed, but the bed is deep so there is room for a medium sized tree.  The tree would sit out in front of the window several feet, and there are azaleas between the tree and window.   I would like to see under the tree, so I visualizing a Dogwood.  If I choose dogwood, which variety would you go with?  Any other suggestions?  I would like a fairly quickly growing tree.  Maybe a river birch, and again which variety?   Finally, any suggestions on digging out the existing maple?   It’s been there ten years.  



It sounds to me like you need a tall but narrow growing tree.  There are many fastigiate species of trees on the market.  Fastigiate is just a fancy word for columnar shaped trees.  The most common one seen across the state is the Slender Silhouette sweetgum tree. While it does form sweetgum balls eventually, it has great fall color and grows 40 feet tall but only 4 feet wide.  There are also columnar ginkgo – ‘Princeton Sentry’, columnar pin and English oaks and a few columnar maples.  I think they would be better choices than a dogwood since it is a hot facing window and dogwoods prefer to be understory trees.  They also tend to grow almost as wide as tall.  River birch trees get larger than you would expect and need a lot of water.  As to removing the old maple, you might consider hiring a tree spade operator to remove the old and plant the new. 


(February 2012)

QuestionI am very interested in planting two types of trees in my yard in Maumelle. I wanted one that produces a brilliant red leaf in the fall and recently bought an October Glory Maple. I want the other one to produce a brilliant yellow leaf in the fall. I’ve done some research on the internet and some that have been mentioned are Ginkgo tree, but I’m not particularly in favor of this one. Others are Golden Sycamore, Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, and Sweet Gum. Janet, would your recommendation any one of these, or do you believe another would be a better choice for what I want to accomplish?

AnswerGingko’s have the prettiest yellow fall color, but they can be slow to get established. Once they do, they are great. Tulip poplars have decent yellow fall color, and thornless honey locust trees are a good yellow. I would avoid silver maple, and the sugar maple is not as well adapted in central Arkansas as it is up north. It can have yellow, red or orange fall color. Same with the sweetgums—I see way more orange and red pigmentation than yellow usually. Another option is the yellowwood tree, but it is also a little slow to establish. Choosing a tree for planting in the fall when it has its fall color, can also help you get one that suits your needs, but that would mean waiting another year.

(November 2010)

QuestionWe recently returned from a trip to eastern Tennessee where we encountered the tree in the photos. I first noticed it after stepping on the fruit that covered the sidewalk. At first I thought they were persimmons, as that is what they looked like. However, they hung in clusters on the huge tree and the leaves are a unique fan shape. I definitely had never seen anything like it and no one I asked in the town could tell me what it was. Hoping you can cure my curiosity.

AnswerWhat you saw was the female gingko tree. I am surprised you didn't mention the noxious odor of the fruit when you stepped on them. The fruit can be showy, but it smells somewhat like manure. For that reason, we only recommend planting male gingko's so there are no fruits. The tree should be in full golden glory very soon, as gingko's have excellent fall color.

(April 2010)

QuestionI would like your recommendation for a deciduous tree for Fayetteville with a maximum width or span of 20 ft. This is to provide shade for our patio and I would like fall color if possible. The limitation is because our back yard is only about 25 ft. wide from the house to privacy fence.

AnswerThere are several options including gingko, fastigiate European hornbeam or blackgum. All have a narrower growth habit but will still get tall enough to give you shade. The gingko has excellent yellow fall color and the blackgum is brilliant red. The hornbeam is an ok yellow.

(June 2010)

QuestionI purchased a dormant autumn gold ginkgo last November that is about 6 feet tall. It has been "leafed-out" for about 3 months now, but the leaves are only about 1/3 the size of regular ginkgo leaves. All the leaves on the tree are just really small. Should I be concerned, should I put root stimulator around the base, or do you have any thoughts?

AnswerBy now everything should be up and growing at warp speed. The fact that the leaves are smaller than normal tells me something is happening in the root zone. If the roots are hindered, the tops will not grow well. Investigate. Root stimulator alone is not going to solve this. If the plant was root-bound in its container and was not cut some during transplant, the root-bound condition might still be hindering growth underground. Have any chemicals been applied to the area? Is the soil well drained, or could it be standing in water? Could you have planted too deep? See what you can find. Take pictures and soil samples to your local county extension office and see what they can find out, because this condition is not normal, nor a good thing.

(July 2006)

QuestionI have a ginkgo tree that is at least 25 years old. This year and last it has been producing fruit. It never has before and I think it is a male. Can you tell me what is wrong with it?

AnswerI do believe you have a female tree, males can't produce. One of two things happened. It may have been a late bloomer--typically a ginkgo can take up to 20 years before they begin to bloom and then set fruit so 24 is a little behind the curve. You also must have cross pollination between two trees—a male and a female; if there are no male trees nearby, they won't set fruit. However, once they start producing you should have fruit annually, and it is not the most pleasantly aromatic plant on the planet. That is why male trees are the most popular.

QuestionWe have two beautiful Ginkgo trees in our backyard in Helena (Phillips County). One is about thirty years old and the other about twenty five years old. The problem is every fall the old and larger one produces what our family has come to call "puke" balls. The name approximates the awful stench of these balls that fall daily from the tree for several weeks. My husband has the nasty job of raking and bagging them to keep our dog and grandchildren from tracking the odor into our house. Is there anything we can do to keep the tree from producing these wretched balls? We do not want to cut it down because our son planted it when he was a child and our grandchildren love to climb it.

AnswerUnfortunately, this is the fruiting structure of the female gingko tree. That is why it is recommended that people only plant male trees. The fruits are a real nuisance, and their odor can be overwhelming, especially if you run over them with a lawn mower. There is growth regulator spray called Florel® by Monterey Lawn and Garden Products that is labeled to prevent many varieties of trees from setting fruit. Not all trees are listed on the label. Timing and thorough coverage are extremely important. If the tree is large, it may not be feasible. You would have to spray when the tree was in full bloom, which may be hard to figure out. If you spray too early or too late, it won’t work. Other than that, you just have to live with it.

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