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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
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Shelterbelt Zone Map for Alberta

In terms of agriculture Alberta is divided into 4 blocks:

I cannot figure out what the dividing line between central and south corresponds to. Too far south to be the Red Deer River. Too far north to be the Bow. At any rate the line is fairly arbitrary. Use your judgement, and ask your neighbours what works.


Trees for Southern Alberta

This file is still germinating

Alberta agriculture has a page here describing trees for various parts of Alberta.

Poplars

Northwest Poplar

Rating: Satisfactory Spacing: Minimum 12 feet. Optimum 16 feet. Plant a colorado spruce between at 16 feet.

Size 50-60 feet, 80 feet in good conditions. Spread 40 to 55 feet. 65 in good conditions.

Growthrate: 2 to 6 feet per year. Water well for good growth.

If you want a thicker shelterbelt with less water use, prune top to 4 feet after first year. This will force multibranch development.

Does well in same locations as grass does well.

Cons:

Brooks Poplar

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: 20 to 50 feet by about 10 feet wide.

Spacing: Minimum 8 feet. Optimum 12 feet. Good tree for 2 row checkerboard with Colorado Spruce.

Cons:

Griffin Poplar

Rating: Satisfactory

Cons:

High susceptibility to canker

Plains cottonwood

Rating: Satisfactory

Size

Cons:

Willows

Laurel Leaf Willow

Acute Leaf Willow

Peach Leaf Willows

Rating Unsatisfactory.

Willows generally do not like dry conditions, and do not like alkaline soils. If you are willing to water them they can be used as yard trees.

Manitoba Maple

Rating: unsatisfactory. Reason unknown.

Green Ash

Rating: Recommended

Cons:

Bur oak

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: 30-50 feet by 20 feet. (Ag Alberta) Other sources say 100 to 130 feet. But it won’t get that big in any hurry. A foot a year is normal growth.

Cons:

Paper Birch

Rating: Unsatisfactory.

Even here in central Alberta, Birch usually needs an extra source of water.

Size: 30-50 feet

Cons:

Mayday

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: 15-30 feet by 15-20 wide.

Cons:

Chokecherry

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: 12-25 feet by 10-15 wide.

Berries make good jelly.

Pink/orange leaves in fall.

Cons:

Sea Buckthorn

Rating: Recommended

Size: 8 to 16 feet.

Pros:

Cons:

Red Elder

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: Shrub 10-13 feet by 6-8 feet

Cons:

Caragana

Rating: Recommended

Size: Shrub 10-16 feet by half that wide.

Pros:

Cons:

Vilosa lilac

Rating Recommended.

Prefers clay or loam soils. Doesn’t like sandy soils.

Requires more care until established. (4 feet high)

Pros:

Common Lilac

Rating: Recommended.

Size 8-12 feet high by 6-8 wide. Suckers, forming thickets. Ok in sandy soils. Doesn’t do well in peaty soils.

Pros:

Tatarian Honeysuckle

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: shrub 10 feet by 8 feet.

Pros:

Cons:

Roses

Hedge Rose

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: Shrub 7 to 10 feet by 6 feet.

Pros:

Cons:

Altai Rose

Rating: Satisfactory.

Size 4-5 feet by same width.

Prefers loamy soil, tolerates most soils.

Pros:

Cons: * Not salt tolerant.

Wild Rose, Prickly rose

A pair of native roses that grow thorughout the province. Botanists call them separate species, but they are hard to tell apart and hybridize freely.

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: 3-4 feet high by 2-3 feet acaross

Pros:

Cons:

Silverleaf

This is a collection of several shrubs that are all part of a single plant family.

Silver Buffaloberry

Large thorny bush with orange berries, silver-grey leaves about an inch long. Small yellow flowers in spring. Orange berries late in summer. Very sour. Pick after hard frost for jam and jelly.

Rating: Recommended in all regions.

Size: 5-10 feet by 3 to 6 feet. Forms thickets.

Grows about a foot a year.

Wolf Willow

Medium thorny bush 3-8 feet by half that. Silver grey leaves about 1.5 to 2 inches long with curved shape. Yellow flowers with strong scent in spring. Silver berries that are mealy unappetizing. Forms thickets.

Size: 7 to 15 feet

Russian Olive

Do NOT PLANT This species is invasive, and in drier parts of the province is declared prohibited noxious. The seeds float very well, and move downstream up to 15 miles a year. It crowds out the native poplar, and the local wildlife doesn’t adapt.

Cherry Prinsepia

Dense spiny shrub. This one looks interesting, but I’ve been unable to find a supplier.

Rating: South: Satisfactory Central: Recommended North: Satisfactory.

Pros:

Cons:

Dogwood

Rating: Satisfactory

Size: 4 to 6 feet, rarely 8, by about same width. Forms thickets.

Pros:

Cons:


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.