Oaks, maples, elms – they all make great shade trees, but so many people have them in their yards. If you want a shady yard that stands out from the crowd, consider planting some sycamore trees instead. They have a unique appearance, and they’re rather easy to grow if you start with a sapling from a local nursery.
Characteristics of Sycamore Trees
The American sycamore is a large tree, reaching up to 100 feet in height when mature. Of course, your sycamore won’t be that large for several decades. Sycamore trees are great choices for landscaping since their notably straight trunks have a clean-cut, groomed appearance. Their branches are long and sprawling, giving the tree a wide-topped shape that’s great for shade.
The leaves of the American sycamore are medium-green in color with a network of veins running across them. They have multiple lobes and are often said to be shaped like hands. In the fall, sycamore leaves turn brown before tumbling to the ground.
Planting and Growing Sycamore Trees
Choosing a Healthy Tree
Visit your local nursery, and look at all of the sycamores before choosing one. It’s easiest to plant sycamore trees that are several feet tall, rather than purchasing a young seedling. The bark should be bright and in-tact, and the branches evenly distributed around the trunk. The wider a trunk of a young tree, the stronger and healthier it is.
Choosing the Right Site
American sycamores prefer moist soil, so plant them in a lower area in your yard, if possible. Do not plant too close to a sidewalk or paved area, or you may find that the tree’s roots ruin these structures within a few years. Once you’ve found the right site, dig a hole that is about a foot wider than the root ball. This gives the roots space to grow. Don’t dig the hole too deep—the top of the root ball should be just above the surface of the ground. Pack the soil back in around the tree, but not too tightly, and then water the tree generously.
Caring for the Young Tree
When your sycamore is young, you may wish to have it pruned several times by a tree care professional. This is not necessary, but it will ensure that your tree develops a balanced, symmetrical shape. During its first few years of life, place mulch around the base of the tree each spring. This will help seal moisture into the ground, and the mulch will also break down, adding nutrients to the soil.
If the idea of planting sycamore trees sounds too involved and time-consuming, consider hiring a tree service (such as Troyer Tree Service Inc) or landscaping company to do so for you. In a few years, you’ll have stunning shade trees that the neighbors will envy.