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.

Tree Profiles: Donard Gold Monterey Cypress

Tree Profiles: Donard Gold Monterey Cypress

Donard Gold Monterey Cypress or Cupressus ‘Donard Gold’ is a delightfully bright and bold cultivar. It was developed in Ireland from the much larger Cupressus macrocarpa or recently renamed Hesperocyparis macrocarpa. It is found along the California and Oregon coasts, famously on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Monterey on the Pebble Beach 17-Mile Drive. These beautiful trees have a canopy that is flattened by the strong maritime winds that constantly buffet them.

Characteristics and Use

‘Donard Gold’ is very different from the 40’ tall Monterey cypress, although it does have the same enticing aroma of lemon when the scale-like leaves are crushed. The foliage is a happy chartreuse color, which develops into a bright yellow towards the ends of its upright branches. The peeling, cinnamon-colored bark is another attractive feature of this tree.

The cultivar ‘Donard Gold’ is a much smaller tree, reaching only 20-30’, and staying narrow with a spread of around 8’. Its neat, columnar shape is also very different from the Monterey cypress’ wide open crown. This shape and size makes it a perfect tree to use as a screen, either solo or in a row, similar to arborvitae. A line of ‘Donard Gold’ cypress makes a very attractive and neat hedge. This tree also works well when planted individually as a foundation tree or a garden accent for visual effect.

Image of a close up of the green leaves of the Donard Gold Monterey Cypress.

Care and Conditions

This conifer enjoys full sun conditions. If it is grown in some shade, it begins to turn a darker shade of green and loses its characteristic glow. It would prefer some shelter from harsh winter winds. Plant it in well amended rich soil with good drainage. If you have heavy soil, it’s worth planting on a slightly raised berm to ensure good drainage. Irrigate weekly or more often when grown in containers. USDA Zones: 7-10.

Planting Companions for Donard Gold Monterey Cypress

Conifers are adaptable to our climate. ‘Donard Gold’ Monterey cypress works well in a variety of styles of gardens and combined with many different plants. Their eye-catching yellow contrasts beautifully with dark or mid-green pine trees, such as Mugo pines or other cypress’ such as Lawson’s. They also complement blue spruces and the bright fall color of Japanese maples such as Acer orangeola or Acer ‘Crimson Queen’ with their respective orange and red foliage. Combining these trees will give a rich, Pacific Northwest-style garden, bursting with color for all seasons. Shrubs such as Ninebark (Physocarpus) and Weigela can also contribute to this feel.

‘Donard Gold’ also works well in Japanese or zen gardens with pines and Lorapetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Blush’ – an elegant broad-leaved evergreen shrub with purple or red leaves. Also combine with Japanese blood-grass (Imperata cylindrica) or Japanese Hakonechloa macra for a restful garden. This golden Monterey cypress can also be sheared for a more formal landscape silhouette along with other conifers.

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

Tree Profiles:  Weeping Alaskan Cedar

Tree Profiles: Weeping Alaskan Cedar

The weeping Alaskan cedar, otherwise known as Xanthocyparis or Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula,’ is a tree commonly found and used in Pacific Northwest landscapes. There are good reasons for this: its attractive, narrow weeping form and compact, hardy, evergreen attributes make it an ideal tree for both public and private planting spaces in our region.

The original species from which the weeping Alaskan cedar was derived is Chamaecyparis nootkatensis. It is found growing in streams and ravines of the Siskiyou mountains of Northern California up through Oregon and Washington and into Southeast Alaska. The weeping form of this tree has become more popular than the straight species mainly due to its beautiful, pendulous branches.

Large drooping branches of a blue-green weeping Alaskan cedar.

Characteristics and Uses

The weeping Alaskan cedar is a conifer tree but not a true cedar or cypress, although it is found in the cypress family of Cupressaceae. It is pyramidal in shape and has small scale-like leaves that droop down in small sprays and collectively create what look like long, graceful arms reaching downward. The fruit it produces are small leathery cones up to ½” in diameter.

This tree is much smaller than the straight species, reaching up to 25-30’ tall and a narrow 8-12’ wide. Because of its small size, the weeping Alaskan cedar is a perfect conifer to use in garden settings.

It provides a great accent in mixed woodland gardens, and it’s blue-green foliage contrasts nicely with yellow and bright green leaves in conifer gardens. It also adds great structure and interest to Pacific Northwest gardens, complementing the shapes and colors of various Japanese maples and other broadleaf trees. This tree can also be used to great effect next to boulders and gravel, dry creek beds, and in zen gardens.

The weeping Alaskan cedar can also be used as a screening tree because of it’s evergreen leaves and narrow width. It functions very well as a hedge, providing more interest and beauty than arborvitae, although not providing as tight a hedging effect.

Care for Weeping Alaskan Cedars

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ thrive in moist, humus-rich soils with good drainage and prefer slightly acidic soil pH like most conifers. They like full sun or partial shade and should be watered regularly to maintain consistent soil moisture. Mulching around the base of the tree and root ball will help keep the soil moisture in.

These trees are low maintenance and need very little pruning. However, they can be affected by phytophthora diseases and honey dew fungus, so optimum cultural conditions should be sought to avoid such disorders.

Other Alaskan Cedar Cultivars

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’ is an even narrower cultivar that quickly grows to 18-35’ tall and 2-5’ wide. This tree makes an interesting specimen to feature in the garden, or they work great clustered together.


Contact Frontier Tree Service today to help you select and plant a weeping Alaskan cedar tree for your yard.

Flowering Tree Profiles: Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus)

Flowering Tree Profiles: Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus)

Plant a Japanese Snowbell in Your Yard

The Japanese snowbell tree is one of the most stunning small trees that you can plant in your garden or use as a street tree. It originates from China and Japan and is a perfect addition to woodland, Asian, or Japanese-style gardens. It’s in the family Styracaceae, which contains trees and shrubs from Asian and North and South American countries.

Styrax japonicus (sometimes called Styrax japonica) provides a profusion of small, pendulous flowers in late spring and early summer that emerge along horizontal branches, hanging below the leaves. The visual effect they make is stunning! The fragrant, delicate, nodding white flowers with their yellow anthers provide a pleasing contrast with the upward-growing, shiny, dark green leaves of the tree.

 Close up of delicate white flowers of the Japanese snowbell tree, contrasting beautifully with their shiny green leaves.
Interesting hanging fruit follows the flowers later in the summer. They are an attractive light purple-gray color. The content of the fruit has been used to make soap and a resin that is insecticidal. Consequently, not many caterpillars will eat this tree! The Snowbell tree also boasts attractive bark, which gives it more seasonal interest in the winter when the tree is bare. The bark is vertically ridged with gray and tan flecks of color. The wood of the tree is very hard and has been used to construct the structural supports of teahouses, umbrella handles, and walking sticks.

These deciduous trees are slow-growing, reach approximately 15-30’ high and wide, and are pyramidal in shape. They tend to have a multi-trunked form but can be trained to have a central leader (trunk) for a more traditional tree structure. They are hardy trees, appropriate for planting in USDA Zones 5-8a.

Japanese Snowbell Care

The Japanese snowbell tree prefers full sun to partial shade. Some shade in hotter climates will protect the tree from scorching. It prefers its roots planted in slightly acidic, rich, and well-drained soil. They require regular watering to keep the soil damp but not soggy. And as with all trees, they’ll need additional water when first planting to establish a strong and resilient root system. Once established, they’ll need only an occasional deep watering in the summer.

Fertilize your trees with a general purpose fertilizer dug into the ground around the feeding roots in early spring. Pruning is best undertaken in late winter or early spring, before the leaves emerge, so the tree structure can be easily seen. The Snowbell tree will need some training to develop into a tree form, rather than a multi-trunked shrub. As it matures, lower branches close to the ground can be removed for clearance and to define the shape of the tree.

Styrax japonicus loses its leaves in the fall after they turn yellow and sometimes red. Their fall color is attractive but not showy. Their best season is definitely spring where they compete with the best spring bloomers!

Common Cultivars

  • Styrax japonicus ‘Pink Chimes’ is a smaller variety with lovely, pale pink flowers. It grows to around 10-25’ tall and wide and forms a large shrub or a small tree. The branches tend to grow from horizontal to slightly weeping as they age, giving the tree an attractive shape.
  • Styrax japonicus ‘Carillon’ is a smaller shrub than other varieties but beautiful nonetheless. It grows 8-10’ tall and wide and has an elegant, weeping structure. It is perfect for smaller garden spaces that don’t have space for a tree.
  • Styrax japonicus ‘Emerald Pagoda’ is a larger version of the straight species Styrax japonicus. It can reach up to 30’ tall and wide. The branches and stems are bigger and so are the white flowers, reaching almost 1” across. This tree provides an amazing display of flowers in the spring and beautiful yellow fall color.

Contact Frontier Tree Service to help you select and plant the right Japanese snowbell tree for your yard.

Flowering Tree Profiles: Cornus kousa Dogwood

Flowering Tree Profiles: Cornus kousa Dogwood

The Korean Dogwood (or Kousa Dogwood), also known by the botanical name Cornus kousa, is a beauty to behold every spring and early summer. Originating in the East Asian countries of Korea, China, and Japan, they are deciduous trees that have become widely available in cultivation due to their small size, versatility and beauty. Cornus kousa blooms in May and June, with four showy bracts (white or pink) which look like petals surrounding the light green, tiny true flowers in the center. Together they create a large, beautiful inflorescence up to 4” wide.

Dogwoods are also highly identifiable by their leaves, which are a graceful mid-green oval-shape and taper to a point with unusual parallel venation. These trees are in the same genus (Cornus) as the red twig dogwood, which are woody shrubs with very similar leaves. Instead of the bracts for flowers, red twig dogwoods have large clusters of tiny creamy-white flowers.

Close up of large, white Kousa dogwood flowers with light green centers and green leaves in the background.

The Kousa Dogwood Beautifies Small Gardens

Dogwoods are beautiful specimen trees that are useful for small gardens. They can be planted in a group to create a woodland effect or installed in a lawn or near a patio for shade. Their beauty provides year-round interest. They offer show-stopping flowers in the spring, followed by pinkish-red fruit in the summer, burnt orange and crimson foliage in the fall, and attractive peeling gray and tan bark more visible in the winter. Their fruit also makes them suitable for a wildlife garden, as songbirds love to feast on them.

Korean dogwoods reach 15’ to 30’ tall and wide, depending upon the variety. They are fairly slow growing. Initial growth habit is a vase shape, but as they reach maturity they develop a more rounded canopy.

Growing Conditions

Korean dogwoods prefer to grow in full sun but will tolerate partial shade, especially when grown in very hot climates. Plant them in moist soil high in organic matter with good drainage, and be sure to water regularly. However, Korean dogwoods do have some drought tolerance. They thrive in Zones 5-8.

Kousa dogwood tree with hanging fruits that are round, bumpy and a dull pinkish-red about 1 inch round.

Kousa Dogwoods Have Excellent Disease Resistance

One of the most important qualities in making the Korean dogwood an ideal small garden tree is its resistance to common plant diseases such as anthracnose and powdery mildew.  Most Korean dogwoods have some resistance to these diseases, making it a more practical choice to make over the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). Cornus florida is undoubtedly a beautiful addition to the garden but can be more susceptible to these diseases.  However, some cultivars are more resistant, such as ‘Cherokee Brave’ and ‘Appalachian Joy’.

If you’re wondering which of these dogwoods you have planted in your garden, there are a few ways to tell them apart. Cornus florida (native to the eastern United States) bloom earlier with larger flowers than the Korean dogwood and have shiny red berries, which look very different to the dull, bumpy Korean dogwood fruits.

Diseases that can Affect Non-Resistant Dogwoods:

  • Anthracnose is a fungal disease that can cause non-resistant dogwoods to have ugly brown leaf spots around the tip and edges of the leaves. It is usually made worse by late spring rains occurring when new leaves are growing. This disease can also infect twigs, where it can over-winter and re-infect leaves year after year.
  • Powdery mildew is a fungus that can thrive during dry weather. It can cover leaves causing stunting as well as causing new leaves to curl and distort.

Both diseases can impact the health and appearance of trees. Therefore, it is better to plant a disease resistant cultivar when installing new trees. There are many choices for the Korean Dogwood. ‘Milky Way’ is an outstanding disease-resistant white cultivar with showy flowers and bright red fall color. ‘Satomi’ is a wonderful choice for a pink-blooming dogwood. It is a smaller tree, growing to around 12’ tall with bright pink flowers in the late spring. There are also many other wonderful cultivars to choose from.

Contact Frontier Tree Service to help you select and plant the right dogwood tree for your yard.