Planting The Augustine Elm – Trees for Different Circumstances

The Augustine elm is well adapted to street tree planting. Its compact, deep root system lets it flourish and support itself in a limited area. At Winnetka, Illinois, several trees which were planted in a four-foot square of soil chiseled out of solid concrete have made satisfactory growth during the last five years.

Its root system is also desirable because in general trees with compact, deep roots do not cause much sidewalk lifting and cracking. American elm and other trees with wide spreading, shallow roots are noted for the damage they do to concrete.

In addition to its desirable root system, the fairly compact top and ascending branches make the tree suitable for street planting. Overhead interference is not great. The tree can be planted in median strips as well as between sidewalks and street. In Cicero, Illinois, a two and one-half mile median strip was planted with these elms. In several years they produced lots of interesting shadows and provide a distinct separation between the lanes of traffic.

Its compact shape also makes the tree ideal between fairways on golf courses. In large areas group plantings of the tree are more attractive than individual plants. However, on a large site where there is a lot of grass as a foreground and tall trees as a background, an individual specimen commands a lot of attention.

Group planting does not rule out the use of the Augustine ascending elm on the home grounds. The tree blends nicely with other large trees and in small areas can be used as an individual to fill a need that any tree might serve. On large lawns where several trees can be used, an effective arrangement is to plant a tree at both sides of the rear of the property and one along the property line on either side of the house and slightly to the rear of the house. This gives a triangular arrangement which enables the trees to tie the backyard setting together.

The definite V crotch that most Augustine ascending elms have presents a problem of durability. Generally trees with horizontal branches are best able to resist wind and ice damage. However, this elm withstands all weather conditions despite its V crotch. Its strength may lie in the fact of its upright limb structure.

Any well-drained soil that supports deciduous trees will also maintain Augustine elms. Planting is the same as for any tree. Dig a large hole, spread the root system in the hole and firm soil around the roots. After the hole is filled, mulch the area with peat or ground cobs. Prune to eliminate irregular branches and establish a balance between the top and roots. Last of all, wrap the tree, and water every other week during the first summer, if necessary.


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