What is a Specimen tree? How do you add one to your yard?

Landscape design is incomplete without specimen trees. You can make them dramatic or subtle, plain or ornamental, tall or short, or both. They are often planted in singles rather than in groups or rows to add visual interest and seasonal splendour. There are many specimen trees available depending on where you live, how big your space is, what you need, and your preferences.

What is a Specimen tree?

A specimen tree has been chosen to be the focal point in a landscape. A specimen tree is a tree that stands out from other trees or shrubs in your landscape because of its unusual shape, texture and colour.

Why should I plant a specimen tree?

In many ways, gardeners and plant lovers can be predictable. We love nature in all its forms and appreciate the simplicity of things like the changing seasons. What is more beautiful than a tree with pink blooms in springtime? Or a huge oak with large brown leaves in winter when all the other trees are bare? Or a lush evergreen in a snowy setting? The beauty of a tree selected for its seasonal drama can bring us joy and give us hope. For example, a redbud tree will become slender and spindly in winter but will soon be covered with lavender flowers in spring.

Some specimen trees may have unique textures in their bark and foliage, striking foliage colours, or striking branches (such as a corkscrew). In these climate changes, flowering trees are vital for pollinators to provide food and shelter. They can also be food for wildlife and people. Finally, specimen trees have many practical uses. They can provide shade or a canopy of flowers in spring, perfect for outdoor gatherings.

The Impact of Specimen trees

The aesthetics of your yard will be affected by the presence of a specimen tree. It could also impact wildlife. You should check to see if the tree you have chosen is susceptible or not. It is crucial to choose the right spot for planting because the root system can significantly impact many things, such as your foundation, sidewalks, and your water table. Talk to an arborist about how the tree will impact your property in the future.

Considerations when choosing a specimen tree

When choosing a specimen tree to plant in your yard, there are important questions you should ask. You are investing in the future by choosing the right tree.

Rate of growth

Some trees grow more quickly than others. For example, Japanese maples grow very slowly. Some trees that grow quickly can lose their structural strength over time (weeping willows). It would be best to consider whether the tree would be a good match for many years. Some trees can live for hundreds of years. An old Greek proverb says that “A society grows great when older men plant trees in the shade of which they will never sit.”

Size

Is the tree too large for your yard or too tall to be maintained easily? Trees can reach over 100 feet in height, but pruning a tree that is 30 feet tall presents problems. To determine the distance, you can plant your home or other structures (including powerlines), be sure to check the tree’s canopy or mature spread.

Shape

Think about the shape of the tree. Will the branches form a vase shape, or will they grow gracefully? They will grow gracefully and not require too much pruning. Are they a good contrast to other trees or shrubs? Before you make a purchase, do some research.

Weather

It would be best if you chose a suitable tree for your area. Consider the weather conditions in your area. Are there strong winds in winter? Are there frequent thunderstorms in the summer? You can choose a hardy and healthy tree for your area by doing some research.

Nut or Fruit Trees

Some fruit and nut trees can produce quite a bit of litter (fallen fruits, nutshells, etc.). It can be a problem if you don’t use it often enough. This litter could attract wildlife, as deer love fallen apples! You should be aware that rotting fruit may attract insects, so you are prepared. If you consider planting a fruit tree or nut tree to be a specimen tree, make sure you choose self-pollinating varieties.

Colour

A specimen tree can add a lot of colour to your landscape. Some deciduous trees can turn spectacular colours in fall. Others have unique colours (like violet) that are only available in one season. When new growth is produced, some evergreens display dramatic colour contrasts. Many cultivars can be used to grow specimen trees. Think about when your specimen tree will bloom. Do you want bright magenta blossoms from a crab apple while your purple lilacs peak in May? Perhaps you prefer a colour explosion later on in the season. To enhance your garden’s beauty, plan for the maximum bloom time.

Texture

Many parts of a tree’s texture include the bark, leaves, and fruits. The tree’s ability to reflect sunlight depends on its texture. Azaleas, for instance, have very glossy leaves, while holly has very shiny leaves. Some oaks have shiny leaves, while others have matte surfaces. The shape of the leaves also affects texture: small and clumped together on one branch may look very different to those with large flat leaves like redbud or catalpa. Larger leaves will provide more shade. There are many textures available in evergreens, particularly in junipers or firs. You can also find attractive texture in bark by using shagbark, river birch or sycamore.

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