Sunday, September 13, 2015

Trees to Plant in the Great Plains

The Western Great Plains is a beautiful and vital part of the north American landscape.  Recently, the high winds this flat area endures have made it of interest for wind farms, as shown by the wind map below.
Wind Resources Map, From U.S. Department of Energy, public domain.  Purple areas represent fastest wind speeds 

Wind turbines can be well over 300 feet tall (to access the fastest wind), but land owners tend to be concerned with wind closer to the ground causing erosion and property damage.  For this reason, many people chose to plant windbreaks.  What trees are best for the western Great Plains?  With the invaluable help of Mike Groenewold of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the following list was compiled.  We recommend planting all of the following trees and shrubs as saplings with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon.

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) - You have almost certainly seen this extremely useful tree somewhere but not recognized it.  It has (toxic) pods that hold its seeds (similar to its distant cousin Thornless Honeylocust).  It can form deep roots if induced (with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon) that make it very drought tolerant.  This tree has large, extremely fragrant flowers in late spring for up to 10 days, and makes great honey if you have bees on your property.  This tree generally grows 40 to 50 feet high and about 30 feet wide.  The wood itself is extremely strong, and was once used to make ship nails!  However, due to the sharp angle at which the branches attach to the trunk, the branches can frequently break if there are not other windbreaks nearby.  This is one of the few trees that restores nitrogen to the soil, so it may improve nearby plant growth.  It does spread very easily vegetatively, however.  Younger trees would need to be protected from deer with Growsafes.  Black locust grows from zones 4-8 (most of the continental U.S.) You can buy this tree here.

Black Locust Tree (From NPS, public domain)


Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) - This small tree (which rarely reaches over 16 feet in size).  It is important not to plant this within 500 feet of any peach or fruit orchards due to a disease that may be spread.

American Plum (Prunus americana) - This tree/shrub grows up to 15 feet in height, making it ideal for interplanting with black locust.  This plant does send up suckers, which can be unsightly but also help stabilize the soil.  This plant of course produces edible fruit, which has been eaten by native Americans for centuries.  Both white tailed and mule deer feed on the berries, and the dense shrubbery provide cover for them.

Common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) - This attractive shrub is also useful for interplanting between black locust or other taller trees. You can buy common ninebark shrubs here.  

Bur Oak  (Quercus marcocarpa) - This is a slow growing oak, which can be frustrating to many land owners.  However, the other advantages of this tree outweigh the costs, in our opinion.  This tree is more drought resistant than almost any other oak, and due to this fact can grow in the western Great Plains.  This tree grows 80 feet high and up to 80 feet wide, and can live for 400 years.  This tree can be bought, bare root and appropriate for planting with the Waterboxx, here.  


Bur Oak - this tree can be planted with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon and will never need to be watered again.  


These trees are felt to be invasive and should be avoided:
Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
White Mulberry (Morus alba)
Common Buckthrorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

As we noted above, we recommend planting bare root trees (saplings) with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon - available here.

We would love to hear your comments below.

1 comment:

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