Envision a lazy summer afternoon under the shade of drooping birch blooms. Imagine sinking your teeth into the sweetness of a Honeycrisp apple pulled right from the branch. Now visualize a cracked and buckling sidewalk, clogged sewer drains, and crushed utility lines. You can thank the silver maple for supplying that last homeowner’s nightmare.
When you landscape your yard, you generally select trees to plant based on ornamental beauty or delicious bounty. But choosing to plant the wrong tree in the wrong place could prove cataclysmic. To avoid costly home damages or pesky bug infestations, think twice before planting any of the following trees and shrubs.
1. Silver Maple—Acer saccharinum
You might feel tempted to plant silver maples because they grow so quickly. But as a result of such rapid growth, their bark becomes brittle and weak. Ice or wind storms can easily damage them. Additionally, silver maples attract hordes of boxelder bugs and aphids who feed on their leaves and seed pods.
Most undesirable of all, though, is the silver maple’s aggressive shallow and fibrous root system. Silver maple roots have been known to invade septic lines and pipes. They can also lift and crack full slabs of concrete—so you might have to say goodbye to your driveway.
2. Russian Olive—Elaeagnus angustifolia
Nurseries imported Russian Olives decades ago due to their adaptability and resilience. They can thrive in almost any environment and populate very quickly. But for those very same reasons, many regions have now declared Russian Olives a noxious weed.
Russian Olives can quickly colonize an area, smothering all native vegetation. They can also grow dense and think, snuffing out all other wildlife.
They can quickly overrun farming areas and grazing pastures, often choking irrigation ditches. The shrub also produces long thorns that wreak havoc on agricultural equipment tires and livestock.
Since Russian Olives aren’t native to North America, they have few natural enemies. So left unchecked, they can overpopulate and displace widespread areas of native plants and wildlife. They’re also very difficult to remove—they easily re-sprout when cut. Getting rid of them for good may require multiple efforts of mowing, cutting, burning, and spraying. Save yourself the headache by planting a rosebush instead.
3. Quaking Aspen—P. tremuloides
Aspen groves are a sight to be seen come autumn. Their white bark and vibrant gold leaves turn into perfect photographs and paints. Most individual aspens look tall and slender, appearing elegant and unassuming. But below the surface, they weave a complex system of interconnected roots.
Aspens grow in clonal colonies with their extensive roots joining together to create a single organism. These colonies can span hundreds of acres. Consequently, they have not adapted to exist as single-stemmed trees. Their roving shallow roots may travel and break through other areas of your yard, sidewalk, and home’s foundation as they search for other plants.
Aspens also host over 500 species of pests, parasites, and fungal diseases. In order to keep your aspen healthy and happy, you’d be resigned to hours of pruning, spraying, and scraping. Since aspens only survive about 20 years in ornamental settings, you might not find them worth the effort.
Appropriate Plants and Conditions
Save yourself the headache of planting precarious trees and shrubs. Instead, choose plants that will benefit your property and regional habitat.
Plants native to your area will usually flourish and thrive, but you should still analyze your planting site. Does your backyard provide enough room for a vast root system? Does enough direct sunlight reach the south side of your yard? Assess your property’s environmental circumstances. Do they accommodate your chosen plant's needs?
Choose native plants and shrubs appropriate your property's conditions. If you do, you'll cultivate a healthy and vibrant landscape.
Have additional questions? Contact your local landscaping expert for plant suggestions and design advice.
When you sit next to a babbling creek, listening to the sound of running water, you feel serene. When you lounge next to a still lake or sprawl out on the beach, you feel relaxed. Water generates a sense of calmness like nothing else on earth.
Homeowners often want to harness this calm by creating a soothing water garden in their backyard. Our high altitude desert region makes creating a water garden challenging because of its temperature extremes, stormy winters, and dry summers. Despite Utah’s dry weather, water restrictions, and high altitude, it’s still possible to create a dream water garden in your backyard. You just have to be willing to make some adjustments.
In this blog, we outline great water gardens ideas for Utah resident. We'll also highlight the considerations for maintaining these serene spaces in our high desert’s climate. Read on to learn more.
Consider Your Yard’s Orientation and Grade
Many homes along the Wasatch Front have naturally sloping yards. This slope, or grade, offers an excellent opportunity for a backyard stream or waterfall. Use rocks and boulders from your yard or neighborhood to create a more natural look for your backyard stream. Though your local landscaper won’t need to excavate to build this tiny waterfall, he or she can help you pick out a filtration system to keep the stream replenished.
If you’re interested in planting flowers or ornamental grasses around your water feature, chose the part of your yard that sees the most consistent sunlight. For example, your backyard might be north-facing. Sunlight hits your front and side yards throughout the day, while your backyard stays cool. Though this is a great place to escape the blistering summer heat, it’s not a great place for plant growth. Instead, consider putting your water garden in your side or front yard so that you can give your plants enough sun to grow.
What if you don’t have much of a yard? Ground-level decks and patios also provide great spaces for small water gardens.
Choose Native Plants
Yellow pond lilies, called Nuphar polysepalum, work best in local water gardens. As the Beehive State’s only native water lily, these plants have adapted to our harsh winters. The Uinta Mountains’ high-altitude ponds host huge numbers of these gorgeous yellow flowers. If you’re interested in adding yellow pond lilies, make sure your landscaper excavates a pond at least 18 to 24 inches deep. This depth helps your Nuphar polysepalum endure the cold winter.
Come springtime, pond lilies create an eye-popping aesthetic for you and your neighbors to enjoy. They also offer exceptional benefits to your water garden’s micro-ecosystem. Lilies aerate your pond and prevent algae overgrowth. They generate shade for any fish you might add to your pond, protecting them from predators.
Minimize Water Use
Utah is the second-driest state in the country. Water can be scarce, especially during hot, summer months. You can minimize your water garden’s cost and its environmental impact by choosing smaller, deeper water features.
Static features like reflection pools and ponds use substantially less water than waterfalls. These features also give you the chance to get creative. For example, some homeowners use metal stock tanks, old whiskey barrels, or planters to create small pools in their yard.
If you do choose a running water feature, keep the water trickling lightly and slowly. It will keep your energy and water bills lower and reduce evaporation. For larger ponds, install preformed features and surround them with rocks and plants.
Water gardens can encourage relaxation and reflection. If you follow these tips, you too can have a serene space in your yard. Contact a local Utah County landscaping company to consider your yard space and design a water garden that is well-suited to your property.