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Planting Trees for Beautiful Fall Color

As the summer daylight wanes and temperatures cool down, trees in southeastern Wisconsin are starting to display their autumn colors. You may have noticed maples in your neighborhood already showing off brilliant reds and oranges. Other trees, such as oaks, exhibit their color later in the season. Learn about the process of fall color in trees.

Beautiful fall color is just one of the factors our arborists take into consideration when recommending new trees for your yard. Hoppe Tree Service co-owner and board certified master arborist Freddy Hoppe shares his thoughts on planting for species diversity.

Q: What are some of the things you talk about with homeowners and property managers when it’s time to select and plant new trees?

Freddy: One of the first things we discuss is the purpose of the planting. Are you looking to add shade or screening to the yard? Maybe it’s for aesthetics, or to attract and feed wildlife. We walk through the yard or property and check out the site characteristics, things like is the planting location a high or low spot in the yard, which will affect how much water it gets. Another elements include the soil – is this compacted soil or clay in an older established neighborhood or new soil with new construction? Are there other trees, power lines or structures that might limit the tree’s resources? We consider all of these factors so that we recommend the right tree for the right location - that’s vital to a healthy life for the tree.

Q: Why is planting for species diversity so important in yards and the urban forest?

Freddy: We’ve seen the very unfortunate effects of monoculture planting, which means planting just one species, with the plight of the ash trees. All it takes is one insect or disease, in this case the emerald ash borer (EAB), and hundreds of millions of trees are lost. Ash trees seemed a good fit at the time to replace all of the elms that succumbed to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s, but the disease and insects that affect trees are changing all of the time. Diversifying the types of trees planted in yards, condominium communities and neighborhoods can help prevent this massive loss of trees.

One good example of species diversification is at County Grounds Park in Wauwatosa. Hoppe is part of an effort led by Friends of County Grounds Park to expand the forest. Removing most of the dead ash trees has been a first step. This fall 175 to 200 new trees will be planted in ten species including three types of oaks, two types of hickory, sugar maple, hornbeam, hackberry, basswood and black cherry. With this diversity, less of the forest is likely to be lost to a specific insect or disease. This concept of not putting all of your eggs in one basket is important for individual homeowners too when planting new trees.

Q: What are some of your favorite trees to plant for fall color?

Freddy: I really like the deciduous evergreens like dawn redwood, bald cypress and tamarack. I also like ginkgos! They show beautiful fall colors, and they don’t have any major disease or insect issues, so they’re more likely to have a long, healthy life with lower costs for maintenance.

Let Us Plant for You This Fall

There’s still time to get on our schedule for fall planting of trees and shrubs! Call us or contact us online to set up a visit by one of our certified arborists. We’ll talk with you about selecting the right tree for the right location, and our expert planting crew will take care of delivery and planting. Add to the species diversity in your yard or property this fall with Hoppe.

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