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Using Iowa Natives in the Landscape

butterfly on Purple Prairie Clover Ted Lare

Native Plants are a vital part of the ecosystem; they provide food, shelter, and the perfect habitat for pollinators. And that’s only one of the many reasons to use native plants in your landscaping. 

Native plants are adapted to our climate, and so they still look beautiful during the hottest parts of the summer, when more delicate flowers are struggling to bloom. This also means they don’t require extra care and can survive on our normal rainfall levels, so they’ll help you save water. These plants are a perfect choice if you want an easy way to support a natural ecosystem. 

The perennials listed below are an excellent choice for beginners or advanced gardeners who want to add some low-maintenance beauty to the garden!    

 

Grey Headed Coneflower, Showy Goldenrod, and New England Aster Ted lare

Grey Headed Coneflower
While Coneflower is in the name, this is actually a different plant entirely! These have smaller, yellow star-like flowers. They bloom in abundance in mid-summer and grow to about 4-5′ tall and 3′ wide. They need a minimum of 6 hours of sun, the more the better. Bees love these and, and they’re a host plant for Checkerspot butterflies!

 

Showy Goldenrod
Beautiful cones of tiny yellow flowers bloom on tall stalks in the later months of summer. These are extremely drought-tolerant, and an important food source for butterflies heading south in late summer. Some Goldenrod spread, but not these, they are clump-forming and well behaved. The plant grows to about 4′ tall and 2′ wide. Plant in full sun for best performance.

 

New England Aster
These asters have wonderful purple-pink flowers in early to mid-fall. These are a beautiful shock of color in the garden when other flowers are starting to fade. They are also an important food source for migrating monarchs and other butterflies. The flowers resemble small daisies. The Purple Dome variety grows to about 3′ by 3′, but wild varieties grow to around 4′ tall and wide. Asters need a minimum half-day of sun, but a full day is what they enjoy the most. 

Virginia Blue Bells, Baptisia, and Penstemon Ted Lare

Virginia Bluebells
These little blue flowers grow in clusters and look like bells. These shade lovers will do best in a full shade location, and they’re a favorite with bees. They grow to around 1′ tall and 6″ wide, though sometimes bigger. These bloom in the spring and early summer, then go dormant during the heat of the later summer months. 

 

Baptisia
Resembling lupines with their tall flower spikes, these plants get quite large. They can get up to 4′ tall and 5′ wide. Baptisia is exceptionally hardy. These bee-favorites are available in several colors, including blue, yellow, white, and purple. They do best in full or part sun. 

 

Penstemon
Penstemons are like a smaller version of foxgloves, though they’re not available in as many colors. The flowers are white, and plants are available with green or purple leaves, and they’re popular with bees and hummingbirds. They grow to about 4′ tall, and 2′ wide, and are a great tall statement for the middle of the garden. Penstemon does best in full sun.

Ironweed, Beebalm, Purple Prairie Clover Ted Lare


Ironweed 
Ironweed flowers are a rich purple on top of strong, dark green stems. It’s a showstopper when it blooms from mid-summer to late-fall. This stately plant, up to 4′ tall, is a favorite for bees and butterflies. Ironweed does self-seed, so you may want to deadhead spent blooms to keep it contained. 

 

Bee Balm
Bee Balm is a pollinator favorite that comes in a wide range of colors from lavender to red to rich dark purple. This perennial can spread, but there are new varieties available that are more compact and stay in a well-behaved clump. They range in height from 2′ to 4′ tall. Bee Balm like full sun, but will tolerate some shade. The lavender blooms seem to be the most popular with bees, while red is best for hummingbirds. Native bees often overwinter in the hollow stems of Bee Balm.

 

Purple Prairie Clover 
Clusters of bright, purple flowers adorn this mounding plant in mid-summer, and the bees love it. They get to around 3′ tall by 2′ wide. The foliage is a unique addition to the garden because it is soft and fern-like, adding some finer texture to balance out coarser plants. Full sun is best for Prairie Clover.

 

Mountain Mint, Little Bluestem, and Big Bluestem Ted Lare


Mountain Mint
The refreshing scent of mint floats in the air when you brush by this plant, but it isn’t aggressive like other mints. This mint is tough and can survive in wet or dry locations. It will grow to about 3′ tall and 2′ wide, and is happy in full to part sun. The tiny flowers are popular with some of our largest native pollinators in Iowa. These big insects can be a little scary, but they’re really just gentle giants, with no desire to hurt us.

 

Little Bluestem 
Grasses don’t offer showy flowers, but they’re still very important to pollinators. Grasses provide shelter during high winds and even homes for some, like Skipper butterflies. Little Bluestem is a short native grass that grows to about 3′ tall 2′ wide. In the fall, the foliage turns orangey-yellow, and the fluffy seedheads appear all up and down the stems. Little Bluestem performs best in full sun locations.

 

Big Bluestem 
It’s got a similar name, but Big Bluestem is actually quite different. It’s a bit bigger, growing to 5′ tall and 3′ wide. It does have a similar bluish color and turns orangey-yellow in the fall. The seedheads form at the top of the stalks of Big Bluestem. It does best in full sun.

 

Pennsylvania Sedge  
This is a gorgeous, slowly spreading groundcover with a grass-like appearance. It’s semi-evergreen, and the foliage stays lush, even through a drought. It grows to about 8″ tall and prefers full shade locations, but it can also tolerate some sun. 

 

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Small Shade Trees: Your Best Options for Small Spaces

small garden with shade trees ted lare

You love those colorfully blooming trees that you see everywhere in spring, but your yard is fully shaded and surrounded by large trees. So can you add a smaller colorful tree? You definitely can. Several kinds of trees will perform well in shady places with lots of other trees around. 

First, you need to determine the amount of shade your yard gets throughout the day. It varies from yard to yard and season to season, based on the sun’s angle and the placement of trees and buildings. 

Most yards have areas that get shade for part of the day, and sun at other parts of the day. If the site where you want a tree receives a half-day of sun or more, then full-sun trees will perform best. If the spot only gets sun for a small portion of the day, or doesn’t get any sun at all, it’s considered a full-shade site. 

Here are a few small trees that will work best in locations that are in the shade for most of the day and are hardy enough to survive our Iowa winters.    

 

japanese maple, serviceberry, and eastern redhead trees ted lare

Japanese Maples 

These trees are great for shaded sites, and many have lovely colored leaves that can bring new life to a shady spot, they range in sizes but most stay under 25-30′ tall and 15-20′ wide. There are even a few varieties such as Threadleaf Japanese Maples that stay 5′ tall 10′ wide. Pixie Japanese Maple is also a miniature version, only getting about 6′ tall and 6′ wide. Many of these trees have the added bonus of absolutely stunning fall color.     

Serviceberry 

These are great trees if you’re looking for pretty white blooms in shaded sites. This tree is native to woodland areas and is happy in part sun to part shade conditions, but will also grow in full sun. The berries this tree produce are edible and taste great. They make excellent jams and syrups! Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry is a beautiful variety that grows to about 20′ tall to 20′ wide, and have the added bonus of beautiful orange leaves in fall.     

Redbud 

This tree is native to Iowa and is usually found growing in the edges of woodland. They feel very at home in part sun and part shade. These trees have stunning deep pink flowers that fill the branches in spring before the leaves emerge. Redbuds can grow to about 25′ tall by 20′ wide. The large, heart-shaped leaves of this tree are attractive through the season, and they turn yellow in the fall. There are weeping varieties of this tree, like Lavender Twist Redbud, that stay within 10′ tall or less and have a unique weeping growth habit. 

    

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 Umbrella Magnolia 

These magnolias are not common around here, but they’re hardy enough to thrive as far north as Minnesota! One of the more impressive trees on this list, Umbrella Magnolia is one of the only Magnolias that can grow in full shade! One of the best features of this tree is its huge tropical-looking leaves; they can grow to be 3′ long and resemble an umbrella. The flowers beautifully showy, measuring up to 10″ across in a gorgeous shade of creamy white. The tree matures to 25-30′ tall and 15′ wide.     

umbrella magnolia and Sousa flowering dogwood ted lare

Kousa Flowering Dogwoods 

These are Chinese hybrids of the native Flowering Dogwood. These bloom much later than other Dogwoods, and the flowers are a bit smaller. Kousa is a hardier variety as well, which makes them suitable for Iowa. The flowers are usually white or pink, and the leaves turn a beautiful dark red in the fall. These trees reach about 18′ tall and 13′ wide.  

Ready to add a beautiful tree for small spaces to your yard? Give us a call to find out what we have in stock, or stop by the garden center to browse our tree lot. Our landscape designers can help you find trees to suit the level of shade in your yard.

 

 

 

 

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How to Grow Citrus in Iowa

While an imported orange from Florida or California might hit the spot, imagine the satisfaction of biting into an orange from your own personal grove! Some citrus trees do very well as houseplants, so you can grow them yourself right here in Iowa! All you need to grow citrus is a little patience and care. You’re not limited to just oranges either—lemons, limes, and even kumquats are all on the list of citrus fruits you can grow in containers!    

How to Choose A Citrus Tree

The most important thing to know is that you’ll have to keep your tree indoors for the winter, so choose a dwarf variety. The added bonus of dwarf citrus trees is that many of them also produce fruit at a younger age. 

Meyer Lemons are among the best options. They grow up to about 4′ in height, and they will even produce fruit on young plants that are barely 2′ tall!

Dwarf Key Lime is another fantastic choice. It grows 4-6′ tall and will bear delicious fruit in 1-3 years. Be patient, don’t give up on it, and it will eventually come through with a bounty of limes for your pies, mojitos, tacos, and more!

Nagami Kumquats do well here, too. They can get up to 8′ tall. If you’ve never tried a kumquat, it’s like a small tangerine that has a lovely sweet flavor. Even better, the flowers are amazingly fragrant!

Citrus Tree Growing Conditions  

Citrus trees like acidic soil (no surprises there!), so your citrus tree will do best in a specific citrus soil mix. It’s also important to fertilize with citrus fertilizer once a month from April to September. 

Citrus trees need 8-12 hours of bright sunshine every day. They’ll do best near a large sunny south-facing window. In the winter, you’ll need to supplement with strong grow lights. They like consistent temperatures of about 65ºF, and they don’t appreciate drafts.

One way to give your citrus tree a boost is to let it enjoy a summer vacation outdoors! It’s critical to transition your citrus tree outdoors slowly, once overnight temperatures are consistently above 55ºF. The process is similar to hardening off your plants, but it should be a 2-3 week process. Start transitioning back inside when overnight temperatures are dropping below 65ºF; it should take another 2-3 weeks. Keep your eyes peeled for pests when you bring them inside in the fall. If you spot any, make sure to keep your tree isolated from other plants in the home until the pest problem is resolved.

Citrus Leaf Drop

Don’t be too alarmed if you see leaves falling off your citrus tree in the winter. They can go into a semi-dormant state and may defoliate. Any unripe fruit will continue to ripen slowly, even if the plant loses many leaves. Cut back on watering if you notice leaves falling.  

Watering Citrus Trees

All citrus trees like high humidity and evenly moist soil. Water your tree when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch and cut back on watering a bit during the winter months. Humidity is critical, and your citrus tree will need a humidifier to sustain it through the winter.  


Citrus Tree Pollination  

Pollination might be the most important, and most frequently overlooked, part of owning a citrus tree. Indoor trees are self-pollinated, so you don’t need two trees. But, you do need to do the pollination yourself. Run a Q-tip or small paintbrush all over the inside of a flower, especially around the greenish center. Then, repeat the process on each of the other flowers to spread the pollen that will allow them to produce fruit. This is the job that bees do in the wild, so go ahead and treat yourself to some honey once you’ve finished!

If your citrus tree is going to spend the summer outside, the real bees will take care of this process for you. Luckily, they’re always grateful for the work!


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Following these care steps and you will be enjoying Iowa grown citrus no time. Stop by our garden center to pick up a citrus tree of your own today!

 

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Color Therapy: Flowers That Make People Happy

Flowers, whether in a bouquet or growing in a pot or flower bed, always have a special way of lifting our spirits. This is due in part to the principles of color therapy, an alternative therapy grounded in the idea that colors have powerful effects on our moods. You can combine the wellness benefits of gardening, with some color therapy, to get the best of both worlds! Add a few of these colorful flowers to your Des Moines garden to make you, and your neighbors, smile. 

According to the principles of color therapy, certain colors tend to specific emotional responses in people. Blues are calming, greens are tranquil and grounding, yellows are cheerful, red is passionate and romantic, pink promotes kindness and gentleness, and purple inspires creativity and mystery.

Green

When you think of how you feel when surrounded by lush greenery, it makes sense that this color is so closely associated with tranquility. Naturally, there is lots of green in most of our gardens, so we generally don’t need to go out of our way to add more. However, an oasis of large leafy green plants can help us relax and reconnect with nature. A space surrounded by leafy green plants could be an excellent spot for meditation.

Blue

Blues are a color that’s a bit challenging to come by in the gardening world. The two best flowers for featuring true blues are Forget-me-nots and Himalayan Blue Poppy. Unfortunately, Himalayan Blue Poppies are extremely difficult to grow and are pretty hard to come by. Luckily for us, Forget-me-nots are much more forgiving, and they deliver a whole batch of pretty little blue flowers from spring to summer. They’ll do well in full sun or part shade, and should naturalize well in your landscape. 

Yellow

Coreopsis is a cheerful yellow flower that happens to be native to Iowa. It keeps pollinators happy and brings plenty of sunny cheer from early summer through fall. There are over 100 varieties of coreopsis, including both perennial and annual types. They are also available in a wide range of colors, from vibrant bright yellow to rich orange and deep red, if you’d like to experiment with an even broader spectrum! 

Red

When we think of red flowers, roses are typically the first ones to come to mind. Classically associated with love and passion, the look and fragrance of rose bushes bring a romantic ambiance to the landscape. For a less traditional red flower, try poppies. Red poppies are gorgeous, delicate, and striking. They will self-seed and naturalize in an area quite quickly, spreading their magnificent color like a wildfire!

Pink

Pink flowers have a particular reputation for cheering people up, and fortunately, there are probably a million different options available. Pinks, or Sweet William, are a delightful early bloomer for spring and early summer, and available in almost any shade of pink you can imagine. There are also single and double flower types available, as well as many variegated color options. However, one of our favorite old-fashioned pink perennials is the much-beloved peony. Peonies pack a punch with their huge dinner-plate-sized blossoms, densely packed petals, and sweet fragrance. Peonies are available in endless shades of pink, as well as orange, coral, red, yellow, and white. Growing these in your front yard is bound to brighten the spirits of your neighbors!

Purple

Purple flowers come in every shape and size, from tiny grape hyacinths to towering alliums and climbing clematis. But you just can’t beat purple pansies for their mood-boosting pop of purple, often with an eye-catching yellow center. Fill a pot with these striking purple beauties, the perfect spring plants, and they’ll bring a smile to any face that passes them by.  


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While our garden center is currently closed, we’re now offering new ways to shop. We’re posting videos on social media, and you can even order through Instagram or Facebook. You can shop online, or call in for personal concierge shopping. However you choose to order, you can choose curbside pickup with contactless payment or local delivery within the Des Moines Metro area. Let us help you bring some much-needed cheer to your yard today!

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Crabapples: A Small Fruit With Many Health Benefits!

Crabapple trees are a pretty common sight in many neighborhoods across the US. They’re popular because they’re covered in beautiful blossoms in the spring, followed by colorful tiny apples through the summer. Not only are crabapples trees beautiful, they’re also an important early source of pollen for bees and a source of food for birds that overwinter here in Iowa. Crabapples are also an excellent option for cross-pollinating other apple trees in the area.

But did you know that crabapples aren’t just ornamental? They’re often marketed as ornamentals because they’re loaded with beautiful spring flowers, and their fruit is less popular than the apples we buy at the supermarket. However, their fruit is edible—it’s just on the small side, and extremely tart. The main difference between crabapples and standard apples is the size of the fruit; if the fruit is under 2 inches in diameter, the tree is considered a crabapple, and if it’s larger than that, it’s a standard apple tree.

Crabapples are an excellent source of vitamin C, which our bodies need for a strong immune system. While eating crabapples won’t guarantee a healthy body, the nutrients and vitamins will help your body fight off illness. There’s an ounce of truth to the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” 

Apples, in general, are a very healthy food, and crabapples have the same benefits in a smaller package. Apples are high in water, they contain soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels, and they’re rich in polyphenols, which have antioxidant effects. Apples also contain pectin, and crabapples are jam-packed with it. Pectin acts as a prebiotic, helping to maintain good gut health. Apples also contain quercetin, which helps to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. 

How to Use Crabapples

If you’re a beginner gardener, planting a crabapple tree is a great way to try growing your own food. There’s a wealth of recipes and ideas out there for using crabapples, like making applesauce, baking crisps, pressing into juice, fermenting into liqueur, or even making homemade apple butter. One of our favorite ways to preserve crab apples is by making crabapple jelly. All you need for crabapple jelly is a basket of apples and some sugar—the fruit has such a high pectin concentration that you don’t need to add anything else to form the jelly!

 

Crabapple Jelly

8 Cups of Crabapples
2 Cups of Sugar
Canning Jars with rings and seals

  1. Wash your crabapples and remove the stems, then cut them in half. As you cut them, keep an eye out for any evidence of worms or rotten apples. Discard apples that show signs of infestation or rot.
  2. Place the crabapples in a pot with just enough water to cover them and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the temperature and keep them simmering for about 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Once the fruits are soft, mash them up with a potato masher.
  4. Strain the juice out through a jelly strainer or double-layer cheesecloth. If you want clear jelly, let the juice drain through on its own, you may even want to leave it to strain overnight. If you don’t care about your jelly’s transparency, you can give the mashed apples a good squeeze to force all the juice out.
  5. Combine the apple juice and sugar (½ cup sugar for every 1 cup of juice) in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil over medium-high heat, and continue to stir until it reaches the gelling point. 
  6. Remove from heat, skim off the foam as quickly as possible, and immediately transfer to warm sterilized canning jars. Leave about a half-inch of room at the top when filling.
  7. Wipe the rims of jars to clean up any spills, and put the seal lids and rings on. 
  8. 8-ounce jars should be processed at a roiling boil in a canner for 5 minutes at altitudes of 1000 ft or lower. 
  9. Remove the jelly jars from the water and let them cool on wire racks for 12-24 hours before storing. You should hear a nice little “ping” sound as each jar lid seals. If any do not seal, be sure to store them in the fridge and use them as quickly as possible.


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If you want to add a crabapple tree to your yard this year, give us a call! We can help you choose the perfect crabapple variety for your yard, and we can either deliver it or arrange curbside pickup from our garden center. 

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The Best Shade Trees for Iowa

There are many benefits of having shade trees in your yard. Not only do they provide a pleasant reprieve from the hot summer sun, but they also improve air and water quality in our neighborhoods, provide habitats for native wildlife, and prevent erosion. Shade trees can even reduce heating and cooling costs in our homes, have a positive impact on our mental health, and raise property values for the entire neighborhood.

There are so many types of shade trees available to us in Iowa. Some of them have specific regions of the state where they grow best. In this guide, we’ve highlighted the best shade trees that are large (50+ feet tall), medium (30-50 feet tall), and small trees (under 30 feet tall), and a few of the fastest-growing types that thrive in our area.

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The Best Large Trees (50+ feet tall)

Red Maples are handsome shade trees that bring incredible fall color to the landscape. With the right growing conditions (and consistent watering for the first three years) a Red Maple should add about 2-4 feet of growth per year once its root system is established. Red maple doesn’t like street salt or compacted soil, so it’s best to keep it well away from the street, driveway, and sidewalks.

Swamp White Oak is a slow to moderate growth oak, maturing 50-75 feet tall, and a spread of up to 60 feet. It’s quite adaptable and can handle a variety of soil conditions, though it does prefer acidic soil that is moist to wet. Very long-lived, it can last 300 years or more.

Hackberry trees are popular Iowa natives that are gaining popularity at the moment. They’re medium-to-fast growers, capable of growing 1-2 feet per year up to a mature height and spread of 40-60 feet. Hackberry, as their name suggests, do produce attractive drupes that attract birds and provide some color and interest through the fall and winter. They’re also admired for their heavily textured bark and and magnificent canopies. They’re also very resilient—from urban pollution to poor soils, hackberry can ‘hack’ it.

Sweetgum trees are large trees with a pyramidal habit and beautiful star-shaped foliage. Sweetgum is known for its fabulous autumn color, which matures to shades of yellow, purple, orange, and red. Sweetgum is ideal for rural landscapes, as it needs a lot of room to spread and has little tolerance for pollution. Sweetgums reach a height of up to 75 feet and a spread of 40-50 feet at maturity.

Black Gum trees, like sweetgum, are excellent shade tree options for adding fall colour to the landscape. Black gum foliage takes on a similar range of shades as sweetgum in the fall, but the leaves are ovate rather than star shaped. Black gums also flower in the spring with clusters of green blooms. Black gum does best in moist environments with full sun exposure, and prefers acidic soil. It reaches a mature height of up to 75 feet and a spread of 20-35 feet.

Gingko Biloba are unique trees with beautiful fan-shaped foliage. These towering goliaths have a heart of gold—at least if their autumn color is any indication! In the fall, leaves mature to a brilliant golden-yellow hue. Gingko are very tolerant of salt, but the males are a much better option for urban settings than the females. Female trees produce a foul-smelling fruit that leaves a slippery residue, which makes it better suited for rural landscapes away from foot traffic. Gingko will survive in any soil type, and reaches a height of 50-80 feet and a 30-40 foot spread at maturity.

Heritage Oak is just as handsome as it sounds. This mighty oak may be the best tree for shade with its sturdy trunk and large, breathtaking boughs that create an outstandingly beautiful canopy. The oaks do require some regular maintenance; the branches should be pruned regularly and the falling acorns may need to be cleared away from time to time. Heritage oaks can manage fine in most soil types but require full sun. They reach a height of 60-80 feet and a spread of 40-50 feet.

Bald Cypress is an interesting deciduous conifer native to the swamplands of the South. The cones are especially unusual—they look a little bit like brussels sprouts! The leaves of the baldcypress are short needles that line the branchlets in parallels, shifting in color throughout the seasons. From lime green in spring, to emerald in summer, and bronze in the fall, the baldcypress suits the color scheme of every season. Baldcypress adapts to wet or dry soils and reaches a height of 50-70 feet with a 25 foot spread.

Kentucky Coffeetree is likely the best-smelling tree on this list; its springtime blooms smell very similar to roses. The foliage leafs out slowly in the spring, starting out with a pinkish hue and maturing to deep bluish-green. It features large, unusual seed pods that contain seeds that can be roasted as a coffee bean substitute. (However, unroasted seeds and the pod itself are toxic.) The tree tolerates most conditions, but requires full sun. Kentucky Coffeetree reaches a height of 60-75 feet and a spread of 40-50 feet at maturity.

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Best Medium Trees (30-50 feet tall)

American Hornbeam is a beautiful native woodland species, with silvery-blue bark. It grows up to 30 feet, with a spread of about 25 feet. The leaves turn a vibrant orange in the fall. It should live for up to 80 years. This Hornbeam is happy in full sun or shade, dry or damp conditions, and isn’t fussy about soil. It does grow slowly, but otherwise, it’s an easy keeper that naturalizes well.

Northern Pin Oak‘s dark green foliage turns a vibrant crimson red in the fall. Silvery gray bark adds interest to the landscape in winter. It’s a fast-growing oak that can live to 100 years or more, growing up to 50 feet tall with an equal spread. It does best in full sun, prefers acidic soil, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out.

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Best Small Trees (Under 30 feet tall)

Pagoda Dogwood has a beautiful horizontal canopy. It can grow up to 20 feet in height, with a 25-foot spread. In late spring it has fragrant white flowers, and leaves turn a brilliant burgundy in the fall. Dogwood generally looks best when left alone, so keep the pruning shears away. It prefers full sun and should live for about 30 years. It will benefit from a thick layer of mulch around the root zone in winter. It strongly prefers evenly moist, acidic soil and cannot handle standing water.

Serviceberry Trees are lovely choices for three-season interest. They reach heights of 25 feet with an equal spread. They produce delicious edible berries that are similar to blueberries in color and flavor. They prefer full sun, and moist, but well-drained soil. They’re not particular about pH levels and are relatively easy keepers. The fruit may require a bit of cleanup—if the birds don’t clean it up for you!

Eastern Redbud has eye-catching pinky-purple blossoms in early spring. It may reach up to 30 feet tall, with an equal spread. It should only be pruned after flowering, and deer will generally leave it alone. It should live for at least 60 years. It prefers full sun, and average to moist conditions. While you’ll want to avoid letting your Redbud’s soil dry out, the tree is tolerant of all soil types and pH levels. Redbud thrives in inner-city environments, making this an excellent street-side option.

Fastest Growing Trees

Honey Locust is a speedy-quick grower, adding up to 2-3 feet per year and eventually reaching 70 feet tall with a 40-foot spread at full maturity. It tolerates wind and ice storms well, and its leaves do allow some light through, so you can plant beneath it. Thornless varieties are also available. Honey locusts like full sun and are happy in any location. They’re tolerant of salt and make a great street-side option. Honey Locust will live for 70 years or more.

River Birch –  River Birch grow several feet every year and provide a ton of interest in the landscape with their showy exfoliating bark. Usually planted in multi-stem form, these specimen trees can provide screening and shade very quickly in your yard. Like many fast growing trees, they do tend to drop more twigs in the yard, which is really their only drawback. River birches reach an average height of 40-70 feet, with a 40-60 foot spread.

If you’re looking to add the benefits of shade to your landscape, come and chat with our experts at the garden center. We can help you choose the ideal tree for your location.

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Proper Tree Planting in Iowa

green leaves on a tree branch

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Proper Tree Planting in Iowa

The Ted Lare Look

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“I feel a great regard for trees; they represent age and beauty and the miracles of life and growth.”
– Louise Dickinson Rich

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Some gardeners are intimidated by the idea of planting a tree in their yard. While it can seem like a big project, planting trees is actually quite simple, and a great investment in a living legacy that will continue to grow in your yard and with your family for years to come. Trees are the ultimate statement-maker in outdoor decor, providing a number of benefits to your yard and home, while providing a dramatic, stately look that will endure the seasons and years.

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When to Plant :

The best time to consider adding a new tree are the temperate seasons of spring and fall. With autumn fast approaching, we’re getting close to tree-planting season, making this the ideal time to start planning for your new addition. Back-to-school season is full of new beginnings, why not start your property with a gorgeous upgrade, too?

Trees can manage in our mid-summer heat waves, but they truly thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. Planting when it’s cool gives your tree all the low-stress weather it needs to get established before the mercury drops further.

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Steps to Planting a Tree :

Planting isn’t complicated, but approaching it with the right steps is a sure way to succeed. If you’re nervous about taking the project on yourself, though, our landscaping teams are always happy to help make your property dreams come true. For the do-it-yourself crowd, follow these simple steps to get your yard looking perfect with the ultimate classy upgrade.

1. Getting your yard ready:

You’ll want to plant your tree as soon as you get it home, so preparing your planting area beforehand saves time and will have your tree looking its best sooner. If you can’t plant right away, you’ll want to make sure the tree is shaded and that the root ball stays moist until you do plant.

2. Pick the perfect location:

Choosing a spot for your tree is a compromise between your tree’s needs and your aesthetic vision. Match your location to the needs of your tree so it will get the moisture and light it craves – and make sure you plan for your tree to grow over the years, too.

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3. Dig in:

Your house relies on an amazing foundation to stand the test of time and your tree does, too. Start your tree right with a good hole and you’ll be sure to have a healthy and vibrant addition to your home. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball, making sure that you’re planting in good soil. If by chance the hole is dug out deeper than the root ball, make sure to add more dirt to the correct level and tamp or pack down the dirt. This will ensure the tree does not sink past the existing soil level. If your dirt isn’t up to the standard, add some black earth, compost, and peat moss to help it get established. If your yard doesn’t have ample soil on top of a largely useless layer of clay or rock, just dig the hole for your tree wider to give it the space it craves to perform its best.

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4. Planting for a good start:

Once you’ve planted, water generously to help the roots get established as quick as possible. Water near the edge of the root ball and be sure to pack the dirt down as you water. This will help to remove any air pockets that are near the root ball. A sufficient amount of water should saturate the dirt and begin to puddle near the surface

A layer of mulch – a simple wood mulch, like cedar – is an absolutely crucial step. Not only does it look polished and professional, but the mulch will help to regulate temperature at the roots for your tree, providing shelter in the cold months of winter, and shading from the hottest days of the summer. Take care not to let the mulch directly touch the tree’s trunk, though. Leave a space between the two to prevent any rotting.

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Planting a tree is simple and doesn’t have to be a chore. Choosing a tree to be your home and family’s companion for years to come is an investment in your future that will grow with you. It’s the ultimate classy addition to your home’s aesthetic and will weather everything to come with your family – promotions, new schools, graduations, new pets, new family members – all with a lush and green flair of style.

If you would like more detailed instructions or have any questions, make sure to contact our experts at Ted Lare Garden Center and we’d be happy to help with any concerns!

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