Best Time of Year To Prune Trees

Best Time of Year To Prune Trees

Pruning is an essential part of tree care, and when done correctly, it can promote healthy growth, improve aesthetics, and ensure safety. However, not all trees should be pruned at the same time.

Timing is Key

Tree pruning is a vital aspect of tree care that should be timed carefully to ensure the best results. Each type of tree has its own pruning schedule, with considerations for disease prevention and aesthetic appeal. The majority of trees are pruned from November to March. Whether you’re maintaining deciduous, fruit, flowering, evergreen, or oak trees, following the appropriate pruning timeline is crucial for their well-being.

Late Winter to Spring Pruning: Deciduous Trees

Early spring, just before new growth begins, is an ideal time to prune deciduous trees such as maples, oaks, and birches. Pruning during this period allows you to shape the tree before it becomes too dense, promoting proper branching and structure. Removing dead or damaged branches at this time also helps prevent the spread of diseases as the tree enters its active growing season.

Maples should usually be pruned in the late spring and summer after it has fully leafed. Earlier pruning can cause sap to weep, which could weaken younger trees. Japanese Maples can be structurally pruned in Winter but can be fine pruned in late spring.

Late Winter to Early Spring: Fruit Trees

Fruit trees, like apple and pear trees, benefit from pruning during late winter to early spring, ideally before bud break. This timing encourages healthy fruit production by allowing sunlight to penetrate the canopy, improving air circulation and reducing the risk of diseases like fire blight.

Best Time of Year To Prune Trees

Late Winter to Early Spring: Flowering Trees

Flowering trees, such as cherry and dogwood, should also be pruned during late winter to very early spring. This timing ensures you won’t accidentally remove flower buds, preserving the tree’s beautiful blossoms for the coming season. You can trim away dead or diseased branches to enhance the tree’s overall appearance.

Late Winter to Early Spring: Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees should usually be pruned in late winter to early spring while dormant. Be cautious not to cut too much, as evergreens may struggle to recover from heavy pruning. Exceptions to this timing might be arborvitae that can handle heavier pruning in spring and early summer. Junipers can also be pruned in later spring if needed.

Late Fall to Early Winter: Oak Trees

Oak trees, in particular, should be pruned during late fall to early winter to minimize the risk of oak wilt disease transmission by sap-feeding beetles. Pruning oak trees during their dormant period helps maintain their health and vitality.

Tree Pruning Times to Avoid

Pruning in the fall is generally not recommended for most tree species because it can harm their health. Fall is when trees prepare for winter dormancy, and pruning during this season can potentially stress the tree and make it more susceptible to diseases and cold damage. However, there are some exceptions and specific situations where fall pruning may be appropriate:

Dead or Hazardous Branches

If you notice dead, damaged, or hazardous branches that pose an immediate danger to people or property, it’s essential to address them promptly, regardless of the season. Safety should always be a top priority.

Remember that proper pruning techniques are equally important as timing. You also want to avoid improper pruning techniques that could harm your trees.  For significant pruning or if you’re unsure about the best approach, it’s wise to consult with a professional tree service like Frontier Tree Service.

Drought-Tolerant Trees for the Pacific Northwest

Drought-Tolerant Trees for the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is known for its wet winters and dry summers, making it hard to find trees that are good in drought. But there are plenty of drought-tolerant trees that are native to the region, as well as some non-native varieties that can thrive in our climate.

Unfortunately, the prolonged drought we are beginning to experience could have long-term and potentially devastating effects on our forests. A single season of drought-induced stress may not be enough to kill a tree, but repeated exposures can be fatal. Newly planted trees are particularly vulnerable to these conditions, and weakened trees are more likely to succumb to disease or insect infestations.

According to some climate projections, annual average global temperatures could rise between 1.5 and 7 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The winters are expected to be wetter and summers to be dryer.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most diverse coniferous trees in the world. Their deep root systems are better able to reach moisture in the ground, making them more resistant to drought conditions. Their ability to withstand cold temperatures and high winds makes them ideal for the region’s climate.

Here are just a few of the drought-tolerant trees that do well in the Pacific Northwest Landscape:

  • Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba) – The Ginkgo tree has beautiful fan-shaped green to yellow leaves. It is a popular fall specimen tree and grows 25-50 ft. tall and 25-35 ft. wide.
  • Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) – This is a small deciduous tree with a rounded canopy and bright yellow flowers in summer. It can grow 30 to 40 feet tall high and equally as wide.
  • Dwarf Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’) – This popular tree has reddish peeling bark and pinkish-red fruits similar to strawberries. This tree is a slower grower, about 8-10’ tall and wide at maturity.
  • Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) – his native plant has bright pink flowers in spring and green, heart-shaped leaves. It grows to about 10-18’ tall and wide.
  • Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) – This popular evergreen is a dense conifer that grows 70-90’ tall and 50’ wide.
  • Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) – This hardy oak can grow to a height of 70–80′ and a spread of around 80′ at maturity. It has textured bark and large acorns for wildlife.
  • Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) – This heat-tolerant evergreen can grow to a height of 40–50′ and a spread of 8–20′ at maturity.
  • White Fir (Abies concolor) – This fairly slow-growing fir tree can grow to a height of 30–50′ and a spread of about 20′ at maturity. It is also not bothered by pests.
  • Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata) –  This medium to large deciduous tree typically grows to 50-80′ tall and is often used as a street tree or shade tree.

You can plant drought-tolerant trees with other drought-tolerant plants in the garden. Drought-tolerant trees still need nurturing for the first three years. They’ll be less stressed if planted in late winter or early spring. Don’t forget to water your trees while they’re getting established. Continue to water them even after established.

If you need help with tree planting or other tree care services, call us at 360-574-4125.

Protecting Trees in Winter

Protecting Trees in Winter

Winter is a season of extremes in the Pacific Northwest, and on occasion, wreaks havoc on the trees that call the area home. However, there are many things one can do to protect trees in winter.

The main concerns winter brings for trees are uninvited, gnawing pests, dry, non-insulated soils, and damage from snow and high/dry winds.

Young and newly planted trees are the most susceptible to winter damage and need the most help though mature trees can and do fall prey as well. Avoid these problems by pruning, mulching, and guarding.

Prune in Winter
A reason for pruning in the winter is due to prevent snow/wind damage. Though the scene of snow resting atop tree branches is beautiful, it poses real-life risks. The weight of snow can be heavy on branches and poses the risk of falling limbs or uprooting entire trees, causing harm to the tree and possible structural damage to buildings or physical harm to passersby.

The trees most susceptible to snow damage are those with multiple leaders (more than one lead trunk), clump-forming trees, and upright evergreens. Heavy, dry winds pose a similar threat of falling branches, so removing risky branches sooner can avoid issues later if high winds are in the forecast.

Winter Pruning

An important part of tree protection in winter is pruning. Pruning is strongly dependent on the type(s) of trees (deciduous, evergreen, fruiting, ornamental) and the purpose of the pruning. Remember that pruning in the winter will encourage vigorous new growth in the spring, so plan accordingly.

Structural pruning can help shape the tree by selecting a central leader and removing dead, damaged, and dangerous (risky, susceptible to falling or “failure”) branches. It can be done on mature trees to limit falling branches, and strongly recommended for young trees to encourage stronger branching and reduce the need for heavy pruning in the future.

Winter Watering
The same snow that is bad for the branches above is much needed for the soil below to help keep the soil moist and protected from drying winds. Do one’s part by keeping soil well watered throughout the season, as moist soil helps to insulate roots better and receive more water than dry soil, which makes water penetration difficult if frozen. Be sure watering is thorough and deep enough to penetrate the root zone, ranging from 12”-18”.

Mulching Matters
Mulching is another way to help the soil around your trees. Mulching is an important tool to help insulate the roots and helps prevent the soil from drying or freezing completely, which can damage the tree through uprooting from alternating freeze/thaw cycles through the season.

Uprooting poses the risk of exposing tender roots to harsh winter sun and drying winds, while frozen soil prevents trees from replacing water after moisture loss from evaporation and transpiration. The temperature of the soil is higher than that of the temperature of the surrounding air.

Provide a protective barrier from the wind with 4”-6” of bark mulch, straw, or better yet, the leaves of the trees to act as mulch. Be sure the mulch is at least 6” away from the base of the tree, no mulch volcanoes! It can lead to rot if left to soak and discourages rodents from nesting by or eating the trunk.

Apply Tree Guards
As for guarding trees, winter is when food is scarce for wildlife, and young tender trees and the bark of mature ones are excellent sources of food. Though to the dismay of the gardener who admires said tree. Apply tree guards of plastic or wire around the tree at least 8” away from the tree to deter deer as best as one can.

Tree Guards

Applying burlap or ¼” hardware cloth (not plastic) around the tree to at least 18” above the anticipated snow line can protect the tree from direct contact with snow, soaking the bark and creating fractures.

Wrapping trees with burlap can help prevent sunscald or frost cracks. Sunscald is when on warmer winter days, one side of the tree, typically the Southwest side, receives unusually warmer temperatures than the rest of the tree. When temperatures drop back to freezing at night, it can cause the tree’s cells to erupt. Frost cracks similarly occur on trees with darker-colored bark. When they receive bright winter sun exposure, which warms them up, they cool quickly at night, causing cracks from frozen water inside the cells.

We love to care for your trees and give you tips for protecting trees in winter. Give us a call at 360-574-4125.

Conifers for the Pacific Northwest Garden

Conifers for the Pacific Northwest Garden

The Pacific Northwest wouldn’t be what it is without the majestic conifers that drape our mountainsides, adorn our homes during the holidays, and give year-round structure within our gardens.

Conifers are the “bones” of the landscape, offering a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Need a screen or hedge to hide nuisances? Arborvitae. Want to add a waist-high shrub for the entrance to your walkway? Japanese Yew What city center is complete without a Blue Spruce?

Conifers, or trees and shrubs that bear cones, feature needle-like or scale-like leaves compared to their broadleaf counterparts (think maple leaf). Given the amount of rain the Pacific Northwest receives, conifers are very much at home and can grow much larger than elsewhere with less annual rainfall. (An important thing to consider when planting and designing with these plants).

There lies a misconception that conifers are all green. While they do offer the swath of greens, wide varieties express the total capacity of the rainbow from yellows (pines), blues (spruce), reds (sequoia), oranges (larch), and purples exist and are pretty popular.

Although most conifers are typically evergreen, a few deciduous plants exist among the ranks (Ex. larch, sequoia, and Bald Cypress).

The only limit to a design with conifers is one’s imagination. An entire landscape could be made using only coniferous trees and shrubs, and it could still rival a spring/summer annual and perennial bed with color and texture.

When designing conifers, the shape of the tree or shrub is something to consider. When thinking of an evergreen, the image of a pyramidal Christmas tree comes to mind. Conifers come in an array of shapes, ranging from a thin columnar form to a creeping form, hugging the ground or cascading off a wall. If space allows, consider a pyramidal specimen to draw attention at the center of a yard.

For the ambitious and for those who are comfortable with constant pruning to maintain the desired form, topiary is also an attractive option. Otherwise, conifers offer a low-maintenance, colorful, versatile, and dependable plant palette for design.

The size of your yard should be considered when selecting conifers. These plants can grow from 1 inch to more than a foot per year. The American Conifer Society has created a system to categorize the sizes of available conifers.

Evergreen conifers to consider for your garden include:

  • Incense Cedar
  • Alaskan Cedar
  • Japanese umbrella Pine
  • ‘Chief Joseph’ Lodgepole Pine
  • Japanese Yew
  • Sitka Spruce

Deciduous conifers to consider for your garden include:

  • Western Larch
  • Dawn Redwood
  • Bald Cypress

Garden Hedges: Plants to Consider for a Picture-Perfect Property

Hedges are an easy, inexpensive, and low-maintenance way to add beauty and privacy to your garden or property. Whether you’re looking to plant a hedge that provides a lush green frame around your house or one that creates dense screening between you and your neighbors, there are tons of options available on the market and at local nurseries and garden centers.

To help you narrow down your choices, here are some plants that do well as hedges, along with information about their size, color, shape, and other qualities to help you find the best fit for your space.

Picking the Right Shrub

Shrubs are an important element of the garden and can provide a range of benefits. When it comes to hedges, there are a number of plants that work well depending on your location and needs. Generally, shrubs should be at least two feet tall, but they’ll grow taller over time. Here are some varieties to consider for your garden hedges.

Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) is excellent for privacy since it grows as high as 20ft in height. Privet will grow in any type of soil, even sandy soil with few nutrients. Privet may have to be trimmed more often than other shrubs if you don’t want its invasive roots pushing up into the ground and causing cracks or damaging nearby plantings.

Azalea (Rhododendron simsii), which will reach heights up to 15 ft or so with arching branches, making them excellent screens. Azalea flowers can be white, pink, red, or purple. Azaleas will grow well in partial sun as long as they get plenty of water during the summer. Azaleas make great additions to any garden as they provide an excellent focal point and give a natural feel to the property.

Yew (Taxus baccata) is commonly used because it is evergreen so it doesn’t need trimming or shaping like other hedging plants. Yew can grow up to 20 feet tall and live more than 100 years. Yew hedges can also provide lots of shade.

Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is a tall, evergreen tree. It grows best in well-drained soil, so if you’re trying to use this plant as a hedge along the border of your property, be sure that you have plenty of space and place it where there are no puddles or dips. The average height of arborvitae is about 25 feet high and 15 feet wide.

Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) is a shorter hedge option. Boxwood can grow up to 8 ft tall and is great as a small hedge or foundation plant. It requires little maintenance beyond occasional trimming and can be planted in the sun or shade.

Leyland Cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii) is a fast-growing evergreen conifer (24 to 48 inches per year) so is often used as a hedge tree. It has a columnar to narrow-pyramidal growth habit.

Hedge Maintenance
Hedges are ideal plants for the garden because they can provide privacy and protection while being aesthetically pleasing.

The easiest way to maintain your hedge is to plant it in an area where it receives ample sunlight and keep weeds at bay by periodically weeding the hedge.

You may also want to trim your shrubs regularly with shears or pruning shears so that it does not grow out of control or have spindly branches poking into windows or other places you would like to be private. Pruning a few times per year will help make sure that your hedges stay neat without taking up too much of your time.

Regular hedge pruning prevents dead or dying branches, allowing the plant to flower or thrive in general. Pruning isn’t done to slow growth but to stimulate it. If there are bare spots, proper pruning can help fill in spaces. Excessive overgrowth can also be harmful to your hedge as it can reduce the amount of light and moisture it receives, slowing its growth.

Call us for hedge pruning for your landscape at (360) 574-4125.

Watering Your Trees in Summer

We often water our plants and lawn but forget that trees need water too! Watering trees may be necessary during summer’s hot, dry weather, especially if your trees are young or newly planted.

Trees need an average of one inch of water per week. When watering trees, deeper, less frequent water applications promote better root growth than shallow, more-frequent irrigation.

Young trees haven’t yet grown an extensive network of roots. That’s why they can’t store much water and need water more often. Young trees should be watered once or twice a week in dry weather. Approximately 20 gallons of water per week are recommended.

In times of drought, when it hasn’t rained for a month or more, even large, mature trees will need watering. You can plan to water mature trees 2 – 3 times a month if they are well established.

The best way to water trees is to slowly water them for a long time in the morning or evening so the roots have time to absorb the moisture from the soil as it soaks down. The roots that absorb the water aren’t deep. Roots spread out sideways; most are just a foot beneath the soil’s surface. On a mature tree, roots extend far in all directions, so focus on watering the area beneath the branches.

Effects of High Temperatures on Trees

Prolonged heat and improper summer irrigation can cause permanent damage to your trees, creating potential hazards that pose a risk to your home and property.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to observe your tree’s signs of drought stress. Often insects and pathogens will attack trees that are already weak. Proper deep root watering is the best way to establish your tree’s root system for long-term plant health.

There are some signals to help you spot signs of early stress. If your tree’s leaves are dying off, wilting, or showing folded or crispy leaves, those are signs of a problem. You may still be able to take measures to restore the overall health of your tree.

Other Signs of Irrigation Stress Include:

  • Leaf wilting, curling, or folding
  • Leaf scorch
  • Needle drop in conifers
  • Canopy die-off of main branches or new growth
  • Insect or disease Issues
  • Premature fall color on leaves
  • Leaning or wilting new branches

Watering too much or too little can be harmful. Don’t overdo your watering, as it could cause insect or disease issues.

Let us know if we can help take care of your trees this summer. Give us a call at 360-574-4125.

Spring Tree Care Tips

What to do for your trees this spring

The storms from winter and even spring may have wreaked havoc on your trees, but spring is the perfect time to assess any damage and their overall health. Spring is a perfect time to take a look at the trees in your landscape.

Inspect trees for overall health

Look for dead wood, broken branches from recent storms, discolored or curling and drooping leaves, and insects. Due to winter weather and possible damage you may need to have trees cut back by a professional or removed. Damaged trees can create a safety hazard for people and buildings in the future.

Remove dead or diseased branches

Spring tree pruning typically involves the removal of dead, damaged, or diseased limbs where possible. Pruning is an important maintenance task that ensures your plants’ healthy growth. If there are dead leaves under your trees, rake them up in case they may carry pathogens that can harm your tree.

Remove weeds around the trees

Weeds compete with the tree for water and nutrients, so make sure to remove any. Spring is the perfect time for this as dirt is still soft from the rain. Remove the lawn or other plants near the base of your trees. These can take away needed nutrients from your trees.

Check mulch levels and replenished as needed

Use mulch to help conserve moisture. Keep the soil covered with a 3- to 5-inch layer of mulch. Start a few inches from the base of the trunk and extend it to 1 to 2 feet from the tree. Don’t pile mulch next to the trunk base of the tree as it can cause decay.  Mulch also helps to suppress weeds, retains moisture for the tree, and adds organic matter to the roots.

Fertilize your trees

Trees can lose nutrients throughout the year. Trees need macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in large amounts. The additional nutrients calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are also needed. Micronutrients are also essential to plant health and vitality. These include zinc, iron, manganese, copper, molybdenum, boron, and chlorine.

Fertilizers are generally applied to the soil in the feeder root zone – the area below the perimeter of the tree canopy. This can be in the form of granular fertilizer dug in or liquid fertilizer drenching the soil. In certain cases, foliar feeding can be more effective in ensuring nutrient uptake. This is when the liquid fertilizer is applied directly to the leaves.

Plant new trees

If you are planting new trees in your landscape, make sure you select the right tree for the right location. Consider the tree height at maturity. Don’t place trees too close to sidewalks, walkways, your home, or any utilities. Consider trees of interest for all seasons.

Contact Frontier Tree Service with all your tree concerns. We can help you get started on taking care of your trees.

Flowering Tree Profiles: The Southern Magnolia

Flowering Tree Profiles: The Southern Magnolia

A Broad-Leaved Evergreen Tree Suited to Our Climate

Southern magnolias are beautiful and majestic evergreen, broad-leaved trees that originate in the southeastern United States. They present a familiar image of the southern US but are also hardy trees that will thrive in our Pacific Northwest climate. Magnolia grandiflora have a rounded pyramidal crown and beautiful patchy gray bark.

Magnolias are in the Magnoliaceae family, which contains some of the oldest flowering plants. These plants are thought to have grown 130 million years ago. 

Characteristics of the Southern Magnolia

The Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is also known as the Evergreen magnolia, as it has very stiff, shiny, large oval-shaped evergreen leaves that consistently drop year round. The tree never drops all its leaves at once as deciduous trees do. The shiny dark green leaves are an excellent identifying feature of Magnolia grandiflora, as are the fuzzy white, orange, or brown undersides of the leaves.

There are only two species of magnolia that are evergreen – Magnolia virginiana (sweet bay) and Magnolia grandiflora, although some magnolias can be semi-deciduous, depending on the climate they’re grown in.

Image of a cream colored southern magnolia flower amongst shiny green leaves with orange undersides.

The Evergreen Magnolia has Show-Stopping Flower Displays

The blooms of the Southern magnolia or Evergreen magnolia are magnificent. They are cream or white in color and large in size, as the species name ‘grandiflora’ suggests. They bloom often and intermittently throughout the year.

The flowers are made up of  numerous petals, and at the center is the pistil (made up of spiralling parts called carpels), which is surrounded by spiraling stamens. The center of the flower turns into the seed head and looks similar to a cone. The cone has numerous follicles which open and allow the seeds to fall out. 

Close up image of a southern magnolia or Magnolia grandiflora cream colored flower with bright yellow pistil.

Care of Magnolia grandiflora

  • Plant in full sun to part sun, depending on the needs of the variety.
  • Magnolias like good drainage – amend heavy clay soil and plant on a mound.
  • Water deeply and regularly in the summer months.
  • Don’t allow roots to sit in water. They are susceptible to phytophthora root rot, which can cause dieback in the branches.
  • Prune in spring when seasonal growth begins. Too much pruning will encourage water sprouts to grow, so limit pruning to thinning and removing dead branches.

Uses of the Southern Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora and its numerous cultivars have many uses in the landscape. They make great shade trees, screens, and accent or specimen trees. These trees are also tolerant of pollution and therefore work well in front yards and as street trees. They provide year-round interest with their shiny green leaves with orange undersides and spectacular flowers.

There aren’t many broad-leaved trees that are evergreen. The Southern magnolia is a special tree to plant in your yard so that you can appreciate a green canopy throughout the year.

Close up image of a red/yellow bud from a southern magnolia or Magnolia grandiflora, next to shiny green leaves.

Common Magnolia grandiflora Cultivars Available

Magnolia ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ is a stunning variety with large white flowers, 5-6” wide. The tree grows 30-50’ tall and 15-30’ wide. The leaves have showy brown, fuzzy undersides, giving the tree extra interest. This is a hardy variety that tolerates colder weather better than some of the other cultivars. It transplants well and does not lose quite as many leaves as other varieties.

Magnolia ‘Victoria’ is cold hardy and ideal for growing in the Pacific Northwest. It grows up to 30’ tall by 25’ wide. The large white flowers appear in midsummer and have a slight lemon fragrance. The leaves have fuzzy red undersides.

Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ is one of the smallest cultivars available, reaching 15-20’ by 7-10’. It is a great choice as a hedge or screening plant in a smaller sized yard, especially when you’re looking for something different with beautiful blooms.

Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear’ is a dwarf variety of the Southern magnolia that reaches 16-20’ tall and 10-12’ wide. The tree has a pyramidal shape, similar to the plentiful conifers we have in our region, and it fits in well with the conifer garden aesthetic. ‘Teddy Bear’ can be used as an accent tree or a screening tree.

Magnolia ‘Kay Parris’ is a beautiful variety with a straight trunk and pyramidal shape, compared to the more rounded form of Magnolia grandiflora. It reaches 15-20’ tall and 8-10’ wide. It has enormous white, heavily-scented flowers, 8-10” wide, which bloom from late spring into the fall. A relatively fast grower.

Contact Frontier Landscaping to help you select and plant the perfect southern magnolia for your yard.

Flowering Tree Profiles: Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Flowering Tree Profiles: Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Profuse Blooms to Liven Up Your Garden

Crape Myrtles, also known by the botanical name Lagerstroemia indica, are deciduous shrubs that range from 4’ in height to trees that can grow up to 30’ tall and wide. There is a great variety of these shrubs and trees that are generally cultivars of Lagerstroemia indica, bred for particular traits such as size, flower color, foliage color, or disease resistance. They are available as single or multi-trunked trees.

Lagerstroemia provide interest throughout the seasons. They offer shiny mid-green to dark green leaves in the spring and summer, vibrant, colorful blooms in the late summer, deep red and burgundy or orange-colored leaves in the fall, and attractive, peeling, mottled gray and tan bark on display in winter.

Crape Myrtles originate from southeastern China and have been in cultivation for over 2000 years due to their many charming attributes. The ‘crape’ name refers to the delicately wavy edges of their eye-catching flowers, similar to the intricately crafted flowers made from crepe paper. This can account for the different spelling of crape myrtles, as they are sometimes called crepe myrtles. These cheerful trees brighten up neighborhoods with their effusive displays of lavender, white, red, or pink blooms in July and August.

Image of a close up of the pink/purple flowers of the crape myrtle or Lagerstroemia indica tree.

Conditions for a Thriving Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia love the heat and full sun. Indeed, if they are planted in partial shade, their blooms will turn white and will not be as plentiful. An ideal planting spot is next to a heat soaked patio or a south or west-facing driveway where it can bask in reflected heat from the concrete or stone. For this reason, Crape Myrtles also thrive as street trees and can tolerate some air pollution, provided they also receive enough water.

Crape Myrtles like moist but well-drained soil. It is important to amend clay soil when planting this tree, and be sure to plant it a little above grade to enhance drainage. These trees and shrubs can tolerate drought conditions if necessary but produce more blooms with some summer water. Their preference is for a deep but infrequent watering schedule.

Planting in summer works better for Crape Myrtles than some other trees, which may develop transplant shock. Their roots grow faster in the heat of summer, which helps them to adapt to their new growing site.

Image of the top of a crepe myrtle or lagerstroemia indica tree showing off it's prolific pink blooms.

Care of Crape Myrtles

  • Plant in hot, full-sun locations.
  • Feed with a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote to give them a steady flow of nutrients throughout the growing season.
  • Water deeply throughout the summer.
  • Mulch around the base to help retain water.

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Lagerstroemia species should be pruned minimally in late winter. They bloom on new wood, so trimming in the spring and summer should be avoided, as this would remove the flower buds. Pruning should be limited to general removal of any dead branches, raising the branch level of the tree to reveal the attractive bark, as well as  general thinning to encourage air circulation and discourage powdery mildew, which they can be susceptible to.

Image of a close up of the attractive, peeling, mottled gray and tan bark of the crepe myrtle or lagerstroemia indica that appears in winter.

Multi-Use Trees

Not only do these trees function well as a patio or street tree, they also make the perfect focal-point tree since they offer year-round interest. These shrubs or trees can be used in mass plantings to line a driveway or path. They also blend in well and provide late summer color in a sunny mixed planting border or a drought tolerant garden.

Lagerstroemia Cultivars Commonly Available:

Lagerstoemia ‘Dynamite’

Bright red and beautiful flowers burst from this show-stopping tree! The leaves emerge red in spring and mature into a handsome dark green. A medium-sized Crape Myrtle grows 15-20’ tall and 10-15’ wide.

Lagerstroemia ‘Muskogee’

The blooms are a delicate lavender color, which light up the tree in late summer and are followed by an orange fall color. The tree reaches 20-30’ tall and 15-20’ wide. A fast growing cultivar.


The flowers are pure white and cover the tree in mid or late summer. It grows to a height of 25-30’ and a width of 15-25’.

Lagerstroemia ‘Tuscarora’ 

Produces vibrant showy coral-pink blooms. The tree reaches 15’ tall and wide.

Contact Frontier Landscaping to help you select and plant the perfect crape myrtle tree for your yard.

Flowering Tree Profiles: Golden Rain Tree

Flowering Tree Profiles: Golden Rain Tree

Plant a Golden Rain Tree in Your Garden

The Golden Rain Tree is a beautiful addition to your yard. Its name comes from the profusion of small yellow blooms that fall like golden rain and then blanket the ground. Also known by the botanical name Koelreuteria paniculata, this charming deciduous tree originates from North China, Korea, and Japan. It belongs to the family of Sapindaceae. This family contains trees such as the Dodonaea – the hopseed bush, which has similar papery fruit. Another example is Litchi chinensis – the tree that produces Lychee fruit, which are widely used to make preserves.
Image of a close up of the small yellow blooms of the Golden Rain Tree.

Beautiful Blooms

The Golden Rain Tree provides year-round interest. In late spring or summer, Koelreuteria paniculata produces large flower panicles rising upwards from the branches. They consist of many individual yellow, fragrant flowers approximately 1/2” in size. Their plentiful nectar attracts honey bees to the tree. In the center of the blooms is an orange speck, which provides an attractive accent. The blooms are followed by papery seed pods like hanging Chinese lanterns, which develop in the fall and persist into winter. They are chartreuse colored, ripening to pink-orange and then bronze as they mature.

Image of the papery seed pods of the Golden Rain Tree that look like hanging Chinese lanterns.

The leaves are compound, meaning that they are made up of many sub-divided leaflets – up to 17 in one leaf. The leaflets are irregularly shaped with jagged teeth and are a handsome dark green in color. They range in size from 6” to 15” long. In fall the leaves turn an attractive yellow, highlighting the seed pods and enhancing the tree’s seasonal display. The bark is an attractive grey color with vertical furrows and ridges.

Uses in the Landscape

The Golden Rain Tree develops an irregularly-shaped, but attractive, rounded canopy as it matures. It reaches 30-40’ in height and width, making it a perfect small tree for the landscape. Its seasonal interest makes it a good focal point, specimen, or shade tree for your yard. It also works well as a street tree, as it is tolerant of air pollution and a wide range of soils – alkaline or acidic, as well as clay, sandy, or rocky.

Image of the Golden Rain Tree with bronze-colored flowers.

Growing Conditions for the Golden Rain Tree

This adaptable, hardy tree is also somewhat drought tolerant and thrives in our climate (USDA zones: 5-9). The Golden Rain Tree does need full sun and thrives with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. It can tolerate dry conditions but likes a moderate amount of water for optimal growth, which is fairly fast, growing from 13-24” in one year. Once established it needs deep, regular watering in the dry, summer months. It can be susceptible to root rot, so it’s worth amending heavy clay soil with some soil conditioner.

Koelreuteria paniculata is a fantastic tree to plant in landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. It is tough and easily adapts to its growing conditions without fuss, as long as it has the requisite amount of sun! Perhaps as a consequence of this tolerance of a range of environments, there aren’t many cultivars that have been developed. But here are a few to consider:

  • Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ has all the benefits of the regular species but has a narrow, columnar growth habit that can be useful for smaller gardens, with a spread of only 6’. Great for screening out the street in front yards or neighbors in the back!
  • Koelreuteria ‘September’ is a smaller cultivar reaching around 25’ tall. Its bloom time is later than the regular species, from July into September. Perfect for adding some late summer blooms to your yard.
  • Koelreuteria ‘Stadher’s Hill’ is a slightly smaller tree than the regular species, reaching up to 30’ tall and wide, with bright pink pods following the flowers.

Contact Frontier Landscaping today to help you select and plant the right Golden Rain Tree for your yard.