I would like to know the pro's and con's of planting a a Tri-Colored
Beech as an ornament tree in my well-established front yard. (Zone 7,
Hurricane Isabel wasn't very nice to my Eastern American Bed Bud last
Fall and she had to go (with great mourning)
I've been thinking of replacing her with a Tri-colored Beech... because
it matches the color scheme of our house perfectly!
The placement will be;
(close to) NE side of the house
Part-sun/shade in Fall and Spring
Full sun in summer.
Tri-colored European Beech = Fagus Sylvatica-TriColor
Thanks in advance!
All beeches have a problem with surface roots so they are not highly
recommended for residential landscapes, especially if you want to use it in
your front yard. You may want to see if you can find a mature one and check
it out. I would think you might be able to get around this problem by using
a slightly raised bed with ornamentals or ground covers around it.
My garden reference book says the "Tricolor" cultivar has foliage which
burns in hot sun or dry winds and zone 7 is the highest zone recommended.
It's listed as slow growing. Other than that it lists no serious disease or
If you want to go back with a red bud, you might consider "Oklahoma" (cercis
canadensis texensis). It has a somewhat lower growth habit than the eastern
red bud, but the blooms are much darker and are hot pink in color. I really
like red buds. I have an eastern, an Oklahoma, and a Texas white so my red
buds bloom in three different shades. My mom has a fully mature Oklahoma
red bud and it's incredible when it blooms in the spring.
Thanks for the reply Roy!
Yes, I have heard about the root invasion problem with Beech tree, but
one thing that I did not mention was that when the old Red Bud was
mature, I put down a circle of purple colored bricks around its'
perimeter... about 8 feet (3 meters) in a diameter circle.
I have also considered a 'ThunderCloud' Plum and a 'Forest Pansy' Red
Bud. I think the Forest Pansy will COOK in the sun of my front yard, and
both trees are a little to dark (foliage) for my taste.
Do you think that the Tri-Color will have a problem with the bricks...
or will the bricks help with the root control (somewhat)?
Also, do you think that cutting-off the leader (main branch) might help?
I've heard that this tree will reach 50 feet tall (17 meters) when
You'll need a bigger circle than that. The roots of a tree will typically
go out as far as the drip line. So you can probably count on a root
diameter of about 25-30 ft for a mature Tri-color. Make yourself a circle
or oval this big, haul in some topsoil, and then plant the tree. Fill the
space with annuals at first and then later when the tree matures you can
fill it with shade loving ground covers. One thing you definitely don't
want to do is add soil around a mature tree. This will kill the tree. So
any type of raised bed needs to be done before you plant the tree. Raised
beds are a great way to go because if you can't find anything that will grow
near the roots and hide them, you can always just mulch everything and throw
in a few bedding plants into areas that don't have surface roots.
I don't have any experience with the Forest Pansy, but my experience with
Red Buds is they do well in hot sun and will even tolerate drought
conditions well. Every one of my red buds bake in the Texas sun all day
long and seem to thrive on it. Red buds are very slow growing. I have one
(Oklahoma) that I planted two years ago and it's only about 6' tall and
maybe 5' wide. The Eastern red bud I planted at the same time is taller,
but not by much. Both started as a 5 gal tree. I would not recommend
planting anything larger than 5 gal. If you want a faster growing tree,
plant a lacebark elm. It's not as showy as a red bud, but it has some nice
characteristics which make it a great front yard specimen. I have some
pictures of one that I planted 3 years ago if you want to see an example.
You don't really want to control the roots as far as trying to contain them.
You can water deeply and infrequently which will encourage deeper roots, but
if surface roots happen, there's not much you can do about it other than to
plant some type of ground cover which will do well next to the roots and
will effectively hide them.
I would never recommend topping a tree. This will encourage a bushy,
weak-limbed growth habit which I find very unattractive. As with any tree,
I recommend envisioning the tree when it is mature and seeing if the mature
tree fits the space (also taking into account overhead power lines and
overhanging branches). If the tree doesn't match the space, plant a
different variety that will. Don't try to force a tree into something that
Yeah, I've heard about the Texas sun in the summer (and learning how to
drive a car with two fingers because of the heat). LOL....
The Tri-Colored Beech tree at my local nursery is available in a Ball &
Burlap at about 8 to 10 feet tall. I know that this tree may reach 50
feet tall, but is THIS SIZE something to consider with the over-all
height/out-come of it's mature size?... in other words should I look for
a 5 or 7 gallon container size tree?
When removing the OLD Red Bud, I dug down about 18 inches and then cut
the root/tree with a chainsaw at this level... the new tree will go in
the same location.
I also understand about your comment with the watering deep (much like
when watering grass to encourage root growth).
However, I'm a little confused about the "Raised Beds"... I've never
had a raise bed within my landscape. If I raise the height of the
tree, will I get MORE root growth. Please don't don't get me wrong,
because I really think this tree will look great in my front yard...
Thanks for you input!
Ball & Burlap trees are just as good as container grown ones. My reasonings
for buying smaller sized trees are basically threefold.
1) Most importantly, I would never buy a tree that needed to be staked.
Young trees need to sway in the wind because it encourages strength and size
at the base of the trunk and it also encourages root growth. I've planted
dozens of 5 gal trees and never had to stake one of them.
2) The smaller a tree is at planting, the better it is about getting over
transplant shock. Larger trees are more likely to die after transplant and
even if they live may take several years before they start actively growing
again. Within 3 years or so the smaller trees I plant will overtake a tree
which was much larger at transplant. 3 years ago I planted several trees
which were little more than sticks. Today most of them have 5" calipers and
one has a 6" caliper. At least 5 years ago the developer of my edition
planted dozens of trees with a 3" caliper. Today the largest one has about
a 4" caliper. So my trees have bypassed the developer's trees in growth,
despite starting out much smaller and having a 2 year deficit.
3) Smaller trees are cheaper. If one dies, I'm only out $20 or so vs
hundreds of dollars I could pay for a tree with just a 3" caliper.
The root growth will probably be the same either way, unless the topsoil you
haul in is much better quality than your existing topsoil. The reason I
suggested a raised bed for a beech tree was if you do get surface roots,
you'll have more options for hiding those roots by using bedding plants or
ground covers. Creating a raised bed after the tree is planted is not an
option because it will probably kill the tree.
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