Trees add character and balance to any landscape. Some trees also provide either an aesthetic or economical value to a home or business. Flowering trees can help to add splashes of color which can be very pleasing to the eye. If the flowering comes at a time of year when few plants are in bloom, these flowering trees can be a focal point of the garden. Non Flowering trees which are used as shade trees provide relief from the summer’s heat and save us money by reducing the need for air conditioning. Here are some suggestions of trees you can use for both aesthetic and economic value.
Small flowering trees such as the Tabebuia trees (one of my favorite) can be used in multiple locations around the home. The Tabebuia impetiginosa (ipe) is a pink flowering tree which grows to about 15 feet tall and flowers in the late winter and early spring. The Tabebuia chrysotricha or yellow flowering Tabebuia only grows to about 8-12 feet tall and produces copious amounts of yellow tulip shaped flowers in the winter/spring. Both of these trees are available at you local nursery or garden center and come in sizes from 4-12 feet tall. The yellow flowering Tabebuia tends to be a slower grower than the pink varieties but both trees put on spectaculars shows of color.
Tabebuia trees are deciduous trees meaning they will lose their leaves in the fall and winter. After the leaves fall off, the tree goes dormant for a few months then begins to put on its show of blossoms either pink or yellow depending on the cultivar of Tabebuia you have purchased. This flower show is fantastic as there are very few trees which bloom this time of year. Unfortunately, some people do not like deciduous trees because they worry they will have to rake up the leaves but the Tabebuias are not very messy and I have never raked the leaves as they fall gradually over time. The loss of leaves in the fall can also be a benefit to some homeowners as they want the light in the winter time and shade in the summer time. I have seen many people that like to plant bulbs and shade loving plants beneath the tree for additional color. These plants are shaded during the summer and still thrive during the winter months.
I would plant the pink variety of the tabebuia tree in the front of the home for the best effect. A stand alone tree in a front yard can be a show stopper (photo enclosed). Tabebuias like to be planted in the full sun and will be slow to moderate growers. The yellow varieties do better on the sides of the home or to add color in the rear of the home. The yellow varieties can be used singly as a specimen plant or in the rear of the home to provide color in the winter to a garden or patio.
Rising fuel costs are a concern for every homeowner. Heating and air conditioning costs never seem to go down. With these energy costs in mind many of you have started to add trees in the landscape to help defer some of these costs especially in the summer when air conditioning cost are at their highest. Well I have a few suggestions that may help you save some money in the future.
Oak trees and Sycamore trees are both large spreading which will give you many years of satisfaction in the landscape. Oak trees and particularly the “Live” oaks trees will give you and your grandchildren years of shade and possibly a conversation piece. Because Live oaks can live to well over 150 years old, plant them with care and give them room to grow. Never plant oaks too close to the home. You should allow at least 20 feet of clear space from the home and try to plant them so that they will shade the home in the afternoon. The afternoon sun causes the most heat and if you plant your trees with this in mind you can save more on your energy costs. Live oaks are slow growing but many nurseries’ carry larger varieties and can install them for you.
Sycamore trees are much faster growing and could give you more shade in less time then the Live oak will. I would still recommend the planting instructions be followed for both varieties as I outlined above. Remember, the Sycamore will grow much faster saving you more on your energy bills quicker. There is a drawback to the Sycamore; the tree is deciduous meaning it will drop its large leaves in the fall but this will give the homeowner additional light in the wintertime.
All of the trees mentioned above will add their own distinct characteristics to any home or landscape. Be sure to do your own research whenever selecting a new plant for your home as these plants will be with you for many years to come. Publications such as “Know it Grow it” by Carl E. Whitcomb, Ph.D. can give you the knowledge necessary to make the right decisions when selecting plants for you home. I hope you enjoy this section on trees for the home and garden. Remember, without plants we wouldn’t be here!