Black Walnut Growth Rate Issues...

I planted a black walnut from a bare root sapling about 3 years ago and it only seems to grow about 3-4 inches per year instead of the 1'-1.5' I hear it's supposed to grow. While I don't have a problem with it taking 100 years to reach full height, I'm more concerned that it will simply stop growing at age 20 and I'll have an 8 foot walnut bonsai tree. I assume part of the problem is that the tree is only in partial sun rather than full sun because of some maple trees not too far away, but I don't know if that's all that can account for it. It appears rather healthy except for the lack of growth. Any ideas?
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Partial shade is a big part of the problem. Also soil type and nutrients available will have a large effect, as is adequate water. It's probably still small enough to easily move it to a better location.
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I kind of had a feeling it was something to that effect. The tree was planted more for my Dad's benefit than mine. I wanted a cherry blossom tree with the hope that cherries wouldn't grow on it due to the partial shade issue but that we would still get the flowers each year, but my Dad overruled me because he wanted a walnut or an oak tree. Unfortunately the parcel of land we're on is not that large. The place I planted it is actually the best place I can find in the yard. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens with it at this point. I've never seen a bonsai walnut tree before, so maybe there's a first time for everything. When I get my own house I'm going to make sure I have a large enough plot of land to grow the trees I want, as to me they are a defining part of the landscape.

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The maples are a big part of the problem. Not much of anything including grass grows under maples. They have shallow roots and take all the water besides having dense shade. I would dig a trench down about a foot deep around the walnut out several feet to cut any roots that are coming into the area of the walnut. I would also open up the shade by pruning the maple tree(s).
We have black walnuts growing in our yard that squirrels plant. They seem to be 3 foot tall before we see them to pull them out. If growing in a suitable location, they should grow fairly quickly. I cut one down yesterday that was over 40' tall and it was about 30 years old.
I have seen green water bags called treegators that people place around the base of new trees to keep them watered during the summer. They come in different sizes. That would be a good idea.
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You've got it back asswards; not much grows under walnut, they poison the soil.
The OP already indicated that his yard is rather small so any discussion about his growing walnut is rather moot... walnut trees grow huge... his choices are to grow a smaller tree or get a larger yard.
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/treeselector/detail_plant.cfm?PlantID !7
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Lots of things won't grow under Black Walnut (Juglans nigra L.) and Butternut (Juglans cinerea L.). They produce a substance known as juglone (5-hydroxy-alphanapthaquinone) which is toxic to many plants including: tomato, potato, blackberry, blueberry, azalea, mountain laurel, rhododendron, red pine and apple. Some things that grow under black walnut are:
Tolerant grasses
Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass grow well near black walnut except during drought conditions when soil moisture is low. When moisture is adequate these grasses may grow better under walnut trees than in other parts of the lawn, possibly because the soil may be more basic. Soil under black walnuts tends to be alkaline, with the pH often 0 .7 points higher than beyond the roots, thus influencing the growth of many different plants.
Tolerant trees and shrubs
* arborvitae, American * ash, white * barberry * beech, American * birch, black; 'Heritage' river * boxelder * buckeye, Ohio * catalpa * cherry, black * crabapple * daphne * dogwood, flowering * elderberry * elm, American * forsythia * fringetree * goldenraintree * globeflower * gum, black * hawthorn * hemlock, Canadian * hibiscus * hickory * holly, American * honeylocust * honeysuckle, amur; tatarian * hydrangea * lilac * locust, black * maple, red; sugar; black; Japanese * ninebark * oak, white; red; scarlet * pawpaw * pear, callery * pine, Virginia * privet * red cedar, eastern * redbud, eastern * sassafrass * serviceberry * silverbell, Carolina * spruce, Norway * sumac * sweetgum * sycamore * tulip tree * viburnums (some species) * witchhazel
Tolerant vines, ground covers and flowers
* anemone * aster * astilbe * bee balm * begonia * bittersweet * calendula * clematis (virginsbower) * coral bells * creeper, Virginia * daffodil * daisy, shasta * daylily * evening primrose * fern * geraniums, hardy * goldenrod * grape, wild * hollyhock * hosta * hyacinth, grape; oriental * iris, siberian * ironweed * jack-in-the-pulpit * lamb's ear * liriope * lobelia * may apple * morning glory * mullein * phlox * primrose * raspberry, black * rose, wild * rudbeckia * scilla * sedum * speedwell * spiderwort * St. John's wort * sunflower * trillium * tulip * violet * wisteria * yarrow
However, Norway Maple is on the invasive species list because virtually nothing but moss grows under them. The Japanese maples are entirely different and would be great in a small yard.
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actually, native trees & shrubs tend not to have any problems growing under the dripline or in the root zone of black walnuts. the non-native plantings many people put in for landscaping are stunted or killed by the juglone. for example, there was an apple tree that started dying when the largest black walnut in my yard started growing over it, so i just cut it down. apples are non-native (with the exception of a couple crabapple species). there is a native dogwood growing direct under the walnut & about 2' away from the trunk, that is thriving. unfortunately, the grass grows just fine there too...

that's a silly statement. you can grow several walnuts in a 50'x50' back yard. you just won't be able to grow non-native understory plantings too. lee
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that depends on the type of maple. if they are Norway maples (an invasive weed tree), then you are correct. those do have shallow roots & dense shade. red, silver, & sugar maples are not nearly as dense. i have black walnuts growing in with sugar maples, & there are no growth issues due to excessive shade or lack of water. i also have all types of grasses, ferns & understory shrubs growing in my sugar bush...

did you sell it for lumber?

i agree, for a couple years until it gets established. lee
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No, not yet, interested?
I have a basement full of black walnut lumber. Wood stores like the high prices of walnut and aren't interested in buying it cheaper. Their markup is less then. I know, I tried to sell them some. No interest.
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maybe. my black walnut needs another 10 years or so before it's ready.

yeah, i sell to a couple different local lumber yards, but i mostly am selling pine, ash, cherry & maple. i have several really nice veneer quality maples coming along, carefully marked so they don't get tapped for syrup & ruin them. how do you dry lumber so it doesn't check? i have some bits around i'd like to dry to use for bowls & utensils, but i haven't got the drying thing figured out... lee
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I dried cherry in my barn. The walnut was stacked under the overhang of a barn when I got it. I put it in my basement. Warning, finish the surface of walnut on a thickness plane and joiner before drying. When in dries, it gets very hard and tends to chip when you work it.
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PS: mine was always cut into boards while green and then dried. I have seen where it is best to rough cut bowls while the wood is still green to assure more uniform drying and less checking.
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