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Create your own forest

Photos courtesy of Johnson's Nursery

June 2015

Kentucky Coffeetree

Living in southeastern Wisconsin means enjoying a plethora of trees dotting our landscape. We marvel at their size, grace, flowers, fruit, aroma and the entire package that creates a pleasing ambience. So what to do when we want to add that mighty foliage to our own space? Local experts know why trees are important to us and how we should approach their selection. "Trees add a lot of value to our urban forest," says Jesse Ziemienski, president of American Tree Experts, a New Berlin-based tree care company. "They sequester water, they put oxygen in the air and take carbon monoxide out. They provide shade and a break from the wind."

Arborist Ed Bodus of Buckley Tree Service in Mequon says variety is key. "There is a wide range to choose from, depending on whether you are looking for shade, color, fruit, etc." Bodus says. "You also can plant most of the year."

In addition to adding curb appeal, trees add to a home’s value, says Bill Trapp, owner of Plant-Trans-Plant in Sussex. "Landscaping that is done right can add 15 percent to your home’s value," Trapp says. If you don’t do it right, it can also reduce the value."

Kentucky Coffeetree

Historically significant because it was planted by the Pilgrims. This is a desirable choice because it is slow growing, seen as stronger than faster growing trees. It also produces a dense head perfect for shade. Eventually reaching 60 to 70 feet, the hardy, disease-free coffeetree is a popular replacement for the area’s troubled ash.



Autumn Blaze Maple

Eventually reaching 50 to 60 feet high, this cross between the silver and red maple has a rounded canopy and provides good fall color. In summer, the red maple produces a deep red vein within a medium rich green. Come autumn, those leaves explode into an array of crimson and orange.








From Asia, this is the oldest tree known to man and traced back 200 million years. It is low maintenance, slow growing (and therefore strong) and has an attractive fan leaf that turns bright yellow in autumn. This giant, which can grow to more than 100 feet tall, is also resistant to disease and insects.




Ohio Buckeye

This is a slightly shorter tree and finer built, growing 30 to 40 feet high. The bark features gray, scaly plates, and the autumn leaf colors range from orange to red as they are among the earliest to fall. The star of this tree, though, is the multiple buckeye nuts contained in hulls that ripen in September.



American Yellowwood

This species has drooping blossoms in spring and provides bright yellow fall color. It has a smooth trunk and is slow growing and therefore hardy. Grows 40 to 50 feet high.




Norway or White Spruce

Both of these spruce species are fast growing evergreens that can grow as high as 50 to more than 60 feet. While not as showy as the blue spruce, these two are not susceptible to disease and can be planted in a variety of soils.


This story ran in the June 2015 issue of: