Coastal New England Low Maintenace Wind Tolerant Trees

edlincoln(6A)March 18, 2013

I've taken to planting something whenever I visit my parents, to give me something to do. They recently lost a lot of trees to a combinations of turpentine beetles, salt spray, and wind damage, so there is plenty of room.

The problem is, I then leave, so I can't give these things proper aftercare.

This strategy has actually worked with holly, but not pines.

What trees have a decent chance of surviving if you plant them and then ignore them? I understand this strategy will inevitably lead to some casualties...but if I buy seedlings cheap I can afford to have some die.

It is a coastal area with acidic soil that is a mixture of sand and clay, and with a lot of wind. Zone 6, coastal Massachusetts. The plants that seem to thrive there are Eastern Red Ceder, White Pine, and Holly. Native plants preferred. Trees with fruits or flowers would be nice.

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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Eastern White Pines are very intolerant to direct salt spray. There are other pines to plant that are more tolerant such as the Austrian Pine. Spruces are probably better at tolerating the conditions you describe.

As you said, Eastern Red Cedar is an excellent choice. Just about any other Juniper will work, too.

Crabapples and especially Hawthorns should work. These would give you blooms, and fruit for interest. The latter would also give you thorns unfortunately. Just about anything with thorns will grow well in the conditions you describe, though.

Anything in the Elm family should work. The wood is cross-grained so it's very resistant to splitting. The related Zelkova is a tree that I've seen in the situations you describe and they are doing fine. They have nice fall color.

Even though they aren't native, Ginkgos will survive just about anything you throw at them. Their unusual leaves create a lot of interest. They are the best for brilliant yellow fall color.

I don't live right on the water but I do live within view of the ocean and oaks are everywhere particularly members of the red oak family. I would suggest a scarlet oak for your situation. They love terrible soil and have great fall color. You can buy your average run of the mill red oak at Home Depot or Lowe's for a very cheap price. Bur Oak is another good choice but they are harder to find.

The other tree prevalent in my area is the tupelo or black gum tree. While normally associated with wet soil. They are very adaptable to dry, infertile, sandy soil. They have wood that is cross-grained like elms so they absolutely will not break in the wind. They have great fall color.

Sweet gums would probably work for you if you can handle the spiky gumballs that they drop. Fall color is excellent.

I've seen Larch trees near the ocean around here especially in Plymouth and they do just fine.

Honeylocusts would probably do OK.

The Kentucky coffeetree is not common here but I have seen some around and they do just fine. They would be very tolerant of the conditions you describe. Their long pods are interesting but messy.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:13PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Do you want evergreens only? We are coastal too, and planted several acer rubrum or swamp maples (called red maples, but the redness is the first spring leaf ends, not a "real" "red" maple) and they do very well, no care involved at all, except when a hurricane's salt winds made the leaves shrivel earlier than seasonal -- they all came back, though.

Other ilex varieties are good, and are native: ilex glabra or inkberry. Try myrica pensylvanica, bayberry, too. In our neighborhood, chokecherries, various other maples, even invasive trees such as Russian olive, do well (too well!)
Pick up a book on Seaside Gardening and you'll discover Rugosa roses, certain rhododendrons, willows, lots of plants. Shadbush trees -- I could go on and on. Have fun!


    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:43PM
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tree_oracle, part of the reason I'm planting stuff is a local disease wiped out all of the Black Pines my parents had. I've tried to figure out what species they were, and it turns out "Black Pine" is a sloppy colloquial term that can either mean Japanese Black Pine or Austrian Pine. Some neighbors have Gingkos.
I'll have to look into Honeylocusts.

carol6ma_7ari, I'll have to look up red maple, that tree wasn't on my radar. I've taken to buying my parents a holly every Christmas and planting it after Christmas...they do well. We have some Rugosa Rose growing on the cliffs, and while researching this I determined some plants growing amidst the weeds are Bayberry.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 1:48AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Those two types of pines are distinctly different species but there is some confusion between the two when using common names.

Your parents probably had Austrian Pines. The genus and species is Pinus nigra and the species name is why it is commonly referred to as a Black Pine but this is confusing as you have discovered.

I really wouldn't recommend a red maple unless your parents are an appreciable distance from the ocean. I would plant a London Planetree if you want a maple-look. They have cool bark in the winter. There are quite a few in downtown Scituate next to the water that do great. The species is highly tolerant of salt. I would really consider an oak, too. There are more oaks than just about any other tree in southeastern MA. There's a reason for that. They tolerate what Mother Nature throws at them from the ocean. Pin oaks and Scarlet oaks and sometimes Northern Red Oaks have fantastic scarlet-red fall foliage. White oaks can have really nice purplish foliage in the fall but they are slow growing.

As far as shrubs, don't forget tall grasses. They take coastal conditions well and have nice winter interest. Some varieties have really nice blooms, too.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 1:38PM
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