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best time to plan trees? With wetland ideas...

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  • best time to plan trees? With wetland ideas...

    We have a swampy area I want to plant some weeping willows in (this is all part of my 'murder the trees of heaven and replace with something less invasive' plan).

    I'm not a tree person, is last frost the general rule of thumb? Any other suggestions for trees that like wet?

    Also, anything else you can do with marsh? Thick stinky gooey mud - basically. Mushrooms? Fortunately it's not a big area, but if we can actually use it, all the better!
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  • #2
    Is the mud seasonal, like now with field runoff? Dry in August? Our Oaks have wet feet in spring and fall, with the ground going wet or hard over the summer times. I have some Beeches I am going to plant to add variety to the forest plantings. My Dawn Redwood is a fast grower, seems to like that ground as well. Tree gets HUGE, so there is lots of room for it there. I like the feathery foliage, which does fall off before winter. Will get attractive red bark as it ages, takes cold weather, seasonal flooding, very well.

    The Willows sound good, along with maybe Cottonwoods, Sweet Gum, if you are buying trees. In the swampy pasture, the Sweet Gum trees won't drop the seeds to get in your way mowing. Cottonwoods are adapted to wet/dry conditions, usually grow rather quickly. Tulip trees are another native tree, gets VERY tall pretty fast, with green flowers in spring. Hickory is another nice native, very hardy, tough, nice shaggy bark as it ages. So far as I know, none are poison for the horses. I have all of them planted here. I do protect the trunks with small wire cages, our rabbits in winter will girdle anything they can. When trees get bigger, bark is thicker, the cages can come off. I don't have a deer problem, lots of open farmland going back to forest, around the horse pastures. They also do not like my fences much, prefer to go elsewhere. So deer have plenty to browse, away from the stuff I plant.

    I do have to water my trees when the land gets dry and hard in hot August and Sept, if we get no rain. I haul muck buckets full in the gator, siphon water to the well-mulched trees about every 3 days. Something to consider in getting trees started. The first couple years are the hardest as they spread roots and get anchored in well.

    Something else might be to just plant the nuts. I have had great success with planting acorns and Hickory nuts. Sprouts are small, but real healthy, and FREE! Again, kept caged from the rabbits who think they are salad! Eat the sticks and leaves to the ground if not protected.

    I have no maples, cut them as I find them. Suburban plantings around us, so they are probably the poison Red Maple, Acer Rubrum. Not willing to take the chance of horses dying from the leaves. I get lots of great fall color on all the other trees, in all their variety.

    Your Willow, Cottonwoods, are probably your best water drinkers for a wet spot and flooding areas. My Burr Oak and Pin Oak do fine in our seasonal flooding areas. Any tree will use up a lot of water, so they all help around a wet area.
    I am planning to keep my Willows topped off along the fenceline, so they get bigger roots, to drink more water. Also with topping, the Willow does not get the big branches of canopy that break off in windstorms! Mine are small yet, so no work to clip a stick or two each year off the top. With bigger trunks, I think clipping every 3-5 years will be enough to keep them short. Willows take clipping very well, come back great. I think they will look sort of like giant carrots, brushy on top of 8ft stems.

    Good thinking, to be planting the trees in your wet area. More trees help everyone! We are losing tree cover all the time, makes the Earth much hotter. Trees work hard for us, very underappreciated for their benefits. Plant a variety of species, plant lots!


    • #3
      Willows...especially weeping willows are very buggy icky trees. I would not use them if you want them to shelter horses or to sit under. There are some hybrid willows that are a bit better that are fast growing shade trees. Pin Oak is a good swampy type oak also. How about Bald Cypress? Will they grow that far North? They use them around here for landscaping and they don't put up "knees" unless the soil is wet all the time.


      • Original Poster

        Willows are so pretty tho...

        I'll look up info on the other trees mentioned, thanks!

        goodhors - basically year round wet (water plants tend to grow there) just marshy during rainy season and of course dead of summer does dry up some.

        When would be a good time to plant? Now? Wait until April/May?
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        • #5
          I don't really have an idea where you are located?

          Willows have bugs, but generally not the kind that bite people or horses. Be prepared to clean up lots of twigs after wind storms.

          Locust, Ash, Poplar, Aspen, Silver Maple all like to have wet feet. Be careful with Ash, though, as I'm told that Emerald Ash Borer is going to send all of N.A.'s Ashes to the same fate as the Elms within a few decades.

          Try going on a drive around your area and having a look at what is already growing in wet areas. Those trees will likely do well where you are, too.

          Plant just as soon as the frost is out of the ground, the sooner the better.
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          • #6
            We had a weeping willow at the farm I grew up on and a nice swinging seat under it. That darn tree dripped sap and had all kind of annoying bugs (buzzed all around constantly) so it was awful to try and rest under. They are very attractive and I'd like to put a few out also but nowhere close to my house!

            I sure hop draftdriver is wrong about the Ash but I've head about the Ash Borers also. I put out a number of them in the last few years and they are doing fantastic...growing fast and look great. I also put a few Shumard Oaks, Hybrid Elm, Willow Oaks, Hybrid Willows, and Sweet Gum as well as River Birch which might be a good choice also. I'm not sure...look up if they will take wet ground or not. One of my River Birch is in a wetter area and so far it's doing fine.


            • #7
              local help

              You could contact your county extension office or your state department of forestry for advise closer to home.



              • #8
                Thumbs down to willows : - P
                Messy, buggy trees they are...

                How about birch? They come in clumps for 3 or more and love wet feet.

                You can also check with your local Master Gardeners to see what native will do best for you.
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                • #9
                  I don't know where the state of denial is so I can't get really specific.

                  Your best bet is to always go with a native species - native to the US and naturally occurring where you live.

                  Generally, good wetland trees are:

                  River Birch (my personal favorite)
                  Swamp Oak
                  American Hornbeam
                  Paw Paw (I love these - yummy!)
                  Hickory (Shellbark and Pignut)
                  Sweetgum (I dislike the gumballs but some people don't care)

                  There are lots of others.
                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                  -Rudyard Kipling


                  • #10
                    Don't plant any tree that can poison yur horses.
                    Even if this area is away from pastures, leaves and limbs can be blown over to pastures during storms or horses can get out. No dogwoods, please. And some maples, no.


                    • #11
                      The maples poisonous to horses are red maples (they do not have red leaves, fyi).

                      But if it is a wetland why not leave it alone? Wetlands are very important to water quality and ecology . . .
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                      • Original Poster

                        I'm in MD, if that helps.

                        SMF 11, I guess I wasn't specific enough in my original post but it is OVER RUN with trees of heaven. A non-native invasive tree that if you don't destroy will take over your whole entire property.

                        Rather than remove them and leave nothing, I wanted to remove them and plant non-invasive native trees.

                        I've never heard Dogwood is poisoness to horses? I see them in pastures all the time around here??

                        Never heard of a Paw Paw tree...

                        I'll look at Birch, what about Black Willows? We have a couple of those already (that haven't been suffocated out by the Ailanthus). This farm is also filled with Mulberry trees. I just cant' see a Willow being messier or buggier then those things are....they literally hum in the spring.
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                        • #13
                          I'm south of you in Virginia but wetland species do well in both states.

                          I don't know if paw paws grow that far north, though. It's actually a tropical fruit and this part of the US is the northernmost part of its range.

                          It's an edible fruit that tastes like custard, grows in groves, and is an extremely valuable food for wildlife.

                          Getting rid of that Tree of Heaven is going to be a real PITA. You have my sympathy.

                          While you don't want to plant species that are poisonous to livestock, pretty much any tree or shrub can be toxic. The berries of dogwood are toxic, I think. But horses generally don't chow down on dogwood berries unless they are starving to death. Maples can be toxic at certain times of the year. Wild Cherry can be toxic. But horses have lived in fields full of toxic species and never gotten sick - because there is plenty of pasture and hay.

                          While you might not want to go out of your way to plant maple and cherry, the other species will be ok unless your horses are starving to death.

                          Black Willow is a good wetland species.

                          Once you get rid of the tree of heaven and start your wetland plantings, you may start seeing sedges and reeds start to grow. Don't worry about those being in your pasture. Native sedges and reeds are good forage.

                          (The way to tell them apart is "sedges have edges, reeds are round".

                          This is the USDA site that will tell you what plants are native to your area - if you look at the links on the right it will organize them by state.


                          Once you get rid of that tree of heaven, you'll have to do a soil test. You may have to fight continually to get pasture grasses to grow, as the soil will needs lots of lime. Every year.

                          Another option might be to try and get a mix of pasture grasses and native grasses like bluestem, the sedges and reeds, gamma grass, and other natives grasses (not switchgrass). You may end up using less lime, but still able to provide good forage for your livestock - without compromising the health and diversity of the wetland. Some of the native grasses may establish themselves naturally. That plus stabilizing soil, providing cover and food for wildlife with the native trees - and you should have a very nice area for domestic and wild animals.

                          Good luck!

                          ETA - forgot to mention - call your soil and water conservation district to see if there is any help available for getting rid of invasive species. I know Depts of Transportation in VA and MD have been trying to eradicate Tree of heaven along roadsides.. but there may be cost share or assistance with getting rid of it on farms. It's worth checking into - even if you just get a discount on equipment or herbicides.
                          Last edited by JSwan; Mar. 19, 2009, 09:49 AM. Reason: add a thought
                          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                          -Rudyard Kipling


                          • #14
                            You might want to take a look at Bald Cypress. They grow from zone 10 to zone 4. They are lovely trees and would do well in the area you are thinking of planting in.
                            "Sometimes you just have to shut up and color."