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Giroud Tree’s ISA Certified Arborists Offer Top Picks for Unusual Trees Plus Selection and Planting Advice

If you look around your neighborhood, you’ll likely see yard after yard planted with Dogwoods, Birches, Arborvitaes, White Pines and Azaleas. All perfectly good trees and shrubs. But, maybe you’re ready to leave the humdrum behind and spice up your landscape. You should know that many nurseries offer an amazing array of species and cultivars to add some excitement to your property.

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There are several trees that Giroud Tree and Lawn highly recommends. They are our top picks because of their unusual features, availability and ability to thrive in our region.  Just be sure to check the ultimate height and width of the tree while you’re at the nursery.

Giroud’s Top Picks for Unique Trees

Paper Bark Maple
Paper Bark Maple

Shade Trees

  • Katsura Tree [Cercidiphyllum japonicum]: The real beauty of the Katsura is its leaf. Round and serrated around the edges, the leaves develop a scarlet to yellow color in the fall.
  • Paperbark Maple [Acer griseum]: The Paperbark is interesting even in winter because of its bright, copper-colored bark that curls into almost transparent strips.

Evergreens/Deciduous Conifers

  • Umbrella Pine [Sciadopitys verticillata]: A perfect pyramid shape and thick, waxy green needles make this Pine very impressive. It’s a very slow grower and needs little maintenance.
  • Weeping Hemlock [Tsuga canadensis]: A beautiful weeping shape and dark green foliage make the Weeping Hemlock a great tree for a Japanese garden or as a focal point in a main bed.

Flowering Trees

Sweet Bay June Magnolia
June Magnolia
  • Eastern Redbud [Cercis canadensis]: A very picturesque tree, especially in the spring, the Redbud blossoms with great bunches of bright pink flowers. Its heart shaped, dark green leaves turn a brilliant yellow in the fall.
  • June Magnolia [Magnolia virginiania]: Also known as the Sweetbay, the Magnolia’s most distinctive characteristic is its flowers, which bloom in June and give off a delicate, sweet scent. It also has small fruits that turn bright red through the fall.

Ornamental Trees

  • Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick [Corylus aveliana var. ‘Contorta’]: Named after a vaudevillian comedian with a gnarly cane, the Harry Lauder looks almost magical with its knuckled, twisted branches and crepe paper leaves that almost shiver. Winter gives the best view of its incredibly unusual branches and hanging catkins.
  • Japanese Cutleaf Maple [Acer palmatum] Although fairly common, the Cutleaf is a top pick because of its sheer beauty.  Its bright red leaves and gently weeping branches make it a centerpiece for any garden.

For more tree ideas, visit the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) Gold Medal Plants website at Gold Medal Plant Library. The site offers a list of great trees and shrubs that have won the PHS’s Gold Medal Plant Award.

Before You Buy Your Tree

Don’t race out to the nursery yet! It’s important to do a little homework first. There are three key steps to ensuring you get a great tree that will live a long and healthy life.

Step 1: Evaluate where you want to plant the tree: This step ensures that the tree you pick will thrive where you want to plant it and also work with the rest of your landscape.

  • How much space is available for the tree to grow?
  • Is it a sunny or shady location?
  • What are the soil conditions: loose, wet, rocky or compact?
  • Will the tree be near a patio, walkway, other plantings or a window?
  • What can the tree add to your landscape? Consider seasonal color, branch formation, interesting characteristics or suitability as a sound or visual barrier.

Step 2: Plant with care: Follow these planting guidelines to help your new tree lives a long and healthy life.

  • Measure the height and diameter of the root ball or root spread.
  • Dig a hole 1 to 3 inches shallower than the height of the root ball and two to t times the diameter of the root ball or spread.
  • Set the tree in the center of the hole on firm soil that has not been loosened by the shovel. When you’re done, the root flare (where the tree meets the roots) should be three inches higher than ground level.
  • Backfill with the soil you removed from the hole and tamp down gently.
  • Spread mulch around the tree bed, no more than 2 inches deep and not piled against the trunk, which can cause rot.

Step 3: Give it a strong start: Whatever tree you choose, give it good care from the start.

  • Keep the soil moist, but not wet, through the first year.
  • Inject fertilizer formula for young trees to help the tree get established.
  • Have a Certified Arborist monitor it to maintain good health.
  • Have a professional prune the tree to develop good branch structure, usually every one to three years.

Ready to plant?

From selecting the best tree for your location to planting, Giroud can help!  Check out our Tree Planting Service.  To learn more about tree care in Philadelphia PA, visit Giroud Tree Service Philadelphia.