If you’re looking to create a welcoming environment for your employees, guests, and customers, you need to pay special attention to your commercial landscape. Landscaping for a commercial property is not as cut and dry as it might seem, and some would even say it’s more of an art form than a science. Different plants and trees create different feelings of ambiance. One of the best ways to transform your commercial landscape is by planting some new trees. We would like to suggest some native Kentucky ornamental trees to spruce up your commercial property. You want your commercial landscape to make a statement and help you reach your goals — whether that’s increasing retail traffic, becoming more sustainable or simply setting your property apart from the rest.
Small Ornamental Trees
Ornamental trees bring aesthetic value to your landscape with colorful blooms, leaves or even fruit. And on the practical side, many provide shade and are low maintenance. Trees are also an important part of ecosystem services, improving the environment and providing habitat — helping your landscape do more than just look good.
Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (Service Berry)
Bursting with white flowers in the spring time, this small, native tree will fit into any sized landscape and provides yearlong interest. It is grown either in a single stem tree or a multiple stemmed large shrub which is suitable for accent planting or privacy screening. The oval shaped leaves emerge coppery-red, becoming rich green throughout the growing season, and feature dramatic color in the fall! The bark is smooth and light gray. Hardy to -40°F, the service berry produces sweet purplish-black fruit, which is promptly taken by the birds. It is fast growing and can reach heights of 20 feet. It can tolerate clay soil and is low maintenance.
Chionanthus Virginicus (Fringe Tree)
You’d think a small, native tree with pretty spring flowers and lovely fall foliage that’s easier-than-pie to grow would be a staple tree in this area, but you are wrong. The fringe tree has always played twelfth fiddle to dogwood, magnolia, flowering cherry and Bradford pear. It’s tougher than dogwood, more dependable than magnolia, longer-lived than cherry, and smells better than Bradford pear. And it’s beautiful! This tree’s creamy white, fragrant flowers will make a real statement on your commercial landscape. The fringe tree produces fruit that attracts birds and it’s also home to several species of butterflies and moths. The fringe tree prefers moist, well-drained soil and grows up to 20 feet tall. It’s slow growing and does best in full-sun to part-shade areas. One bonus is that this tree rarely needs to be pruned.
Rhus typhina (Staghorn Sumac)
For properties with erosion issues, the native staghorn sumac is a good solution. Although it’s good for erosion control, this tree isn’t ideal for small spaces since it forms colonies. Sharing a genus with poison sumac has unnecessarily blackballed staghorn sumac from inclusion in many landscape plans. This nontoxic tree’s crimson summer berries once provided thirsty Native Americans and frontier folk with a refreshingly lemon-flavored tea. The conical, fuzzy berry clusters appear on female trees. The sumac’s tropical, green compound foliage assumes fiery shades of orange, scarlet and gold in fall. These 15- to 25-foot trees thrive in Kentucky. They are fast growing, reach heights of 25 feet, and are tolerant of drought and very poor soils. There are several popular varieties of the staghorn sumac including ‘Tiger Eye,’ which produces brilliant chartreuse foliage.
Medium Ornamental Trees
Ilex opaca (American Holly)
This flowering evergreen produces fruit for wildlife and also serves as an important nesting habitat for many birds. It’s a moderately fast-growing tree that reaches 30 to 50 feet in height. Ilex opaca, commonly called American holly, is an upright, pyramidal, evergreen tree that slowly matures to 15-30′ in cultivation, but may reach 50′ tall. This species is easily identified because it is the only native U.S. holly with spiny green leaves and bright red berries. This is the Christmas holly whose berry-laden boughs are typically collected at Christmas time each year for ornamentation (“decking the halls,” as it were). Thick, leathery, deep green leaves (2-4″ long) have spiny marginal teeth. Species is dioecious (male and female flowers are on separate trees). Greenish-white flowers bloom May-June (male flowers in 3-12 flowered clusters and female flowers in 1-3 clusters). Bright red or orange fruits (up to 1/4- 1/2″ diameter) ripen in fall on pollinated female trees, and persist on the tree through winter. Birds love the fruit. The American holly tolerates moist soils and drought, and it’s also resistant to many diseases that kill non-native hollies.
Cladrastus kentukea (Kentucky Yellowwood)
A good shade tree for lawns because of its deep roots, Cladrastis kentukea, commonly called American yellowwood, is a medium-sized deciduous tree of the legume family that typically grows 30-50’ tall with upright branching and a broad, rounded crown. It is noted for its pinnately compound foliage, panicles of fragrant white spring flowers, autumn seed pods and yellow fall color. The species is native to Kentucky. Pinnately compound leaves (usually with 7-11 leaflets) open as yellowish green, turn bright green in summer and then turn yellow in fall. Intensely fragrant, wisteria-like, pink flowers will cover a mature tree in late spring. Profuse blooms may occur only once every 2 or 3 years however. New trees may not bloom for the first 8-10 years. Bloom is similar in appearance to that of the black locust (Robinia). Flowers give way to flat seed pods (2.5-4” long) that mature in September-October. The wood of this tree contains a yellow dye that distinctively colors the heartwood and gives rise to the common name of yellowwood.
Acer rubrum (Red Maple)
Red maple is one of the best named of all trees, featuring something red in each of the seasons—buds in winter, flowers in spring, leafstalks in summer, and brilliant foliage in autumn. This pageant of color, along with the red maple’s relatively fast growth and tolerance to a wide range of soils, makes it a widely planted favorite. The tree can grow 60 feet tall, with columnar forms that reach about 15 feet wide. The fast-growing red maple tolerates wet sites better than it does drought. It’s home to a variety of caterpillars, including America’s largest native moth species: the cecropia moth.
Large Ornamental Trees
Quercus shumardii (Shumard Oak)
This native, moderately fast growing tree can reach 60 to 80 feet in height, making it an ideal choice if you’re looking to add shade. A stately, strong, and long-lived tree with beautiful fall color, the Shumard oak is a great selection. This adaptable species has been successfully grown in urban areas where air pollution, poor drainage, compacted soil, and/or drought are common, making it a fine choice for street trees as well. This tree is favored by deer and squirrels who love its small acorns— helping your site become the spot for scenic wildlife.
Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar)
Another good shade tree is the tulip poplar, which can reach 60 to 100 feet tall. This fast-growing tree has golden fall color and beautiful flowers. The flowers grow high on the tree, so while you might not be able to see them as well, they are a favorite of bees, hummingbirds and the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly. The tulip poplar grows in moist soils but also tolerates drought.
Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky Coffeetree)
As the name suggests, the Kentucky coffeetree is a native species that produces seeds that can be roasted to create a coffee substitute. The tree grows 60 to 80 feet tall and provides light shade. The Kentucky coffeetree’s tolerance to pollution, drought, and a wide range of soils makes it a suitable tree for urban environments. Native to Kentucky, this tree bears leathery, reddish-brown seed pods that add winter interest to the landscape. It has large, tropical-looking leaves and fragrant flowers that aren’t overly showy. Even in the winter, this tree is stunning with its bold, bare branches. The tree comes in both male and female varieties, so install a male one like ‘Espresso’ if you don’t want fruit but would like to attract a variety hummingbirds and the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly,
We hope our suggestions helped you consider an ornamental tree for your commercial property. Trees are an essential component of your property’s landscape and often quite an investment. Make sure you are setting yourself up for success with trees capable of withstanding not only your climate, but also the particular nuances offered by your site. Knowing which trees will thrive on your landscape, give you the visual interest you’re looking for, and be the right size for your site are things only an experienced landscape company can help you with.
Are you tired of overpaying for sub-par service? First Green Landscaping provides the best value for professional lawn care and landscaping services in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. No property is too big or too small for First Green Landscaping.
Contact us (859-292‐8556) today for a free consultation!
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First Green Commercial Landscaping is a locally owned leading provider of lawn care and landscaping services in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. We provide superior customer service and strive to build long term business relationships with our clients.
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