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The torch of doubt and chaos, this is what the sage steers by.

Easy Care Trees

Because you have lots more fun things to do...

You want the trees, but you don’t want a whole lot of work to go with it.

Let’s look at what care can involve:


Firs. Best as fill in trees in poplar bush. Buds are often winter killed by wind in open places. If properly sited, they are a very low care. Branches go down to ground. Awkward to mow. Space underneath is bare. Rating: 7

Spruces. In open sun need to be watered several times a summer for the first 3 years. In shade, water when planting. Spruce produce such dense shade that little will grow underneath. Branches go down to ground. Awkward to mow. Remove dead branches and twigs from underside of tree to reduce fire risk. Rating 7.

Shrub Cedars Lifetime watering commitment. Yearly shearing. Mulch helps. Put on a timer that waters once a week. If you miss, you have a lot of fine pruning to take off dead tips. Rating 3.

Pines Mostly care free after first year. May have thin grass underneath from needle caused acidity. Add 1 lb bonemeal per square yard as needed to control. (Usually every 3-4 years) Some pines drop cones. Rating 9

Larches Mostly carefree after the first year. Few pests. They do drop their walnut sized cones after a year. These degrade in a year or so, or if you dethatch your lawn, they will be collected with the thatch. Cones are painful to bare feet. Limb them up as they get tall to make it easy to mow under them. Rating 9

Leaf Trees

Fruit Trees This includes plums, apples, pears, cherries. All fruit trees requires some additional water in our climate -- roughly about double what they get naturally. Most of this needs to be delivered in July to early September. Overwatering can result in split fruit. If not harvested, or cleaned up, fruit can be a source of tree diseases, a plague of fruit-flies, and food for wasps. To get decent fruit yields requires some yearly pruning. Rating 2.

Fruit bushes Gooseberries, blueberries, saskatoons, romance series cherries, haskaps, currants. Most of these are fairly easy care. What you don’t eat the birds will. Require periodic pruning. Require additional water for best fruit production. Rating 6

Ornamental Crabapples Most ornamental crabs produce fruit no larger than a nickel. These tend to stay on the tree until the cedar waxwings discover them in winter. Rating 8.

Ornamental Plums Most of these are sterile and either produce no fruit, or very small quantities. Monitor for black knot. Sometimes you need to prune for best shape. Rating 8.

Poplars All poplars sucker. They sucker more if their roots get damaged. Don’t plant near the veggie garden, or other area that gets tilled each year. Some will send suckers up 20 feet away from the main tree. In grassy areas these will be mowed, but they leave micro-stumps that are tough on bare feet. Poplar roots are shallow, and eventually make bumps in the lawn. You can add an inch of topsoil to the lawn to level it out. Repeat every 10-15 years. In addition poplar will shed twigs and leaves in any serious wind. Most of this is small enough to be mulched by the mower, but if you are ‘lawn proud’ they will drive you crazy. If you go with more natural look, they are fairly care free. Female poplar trees also release large quantities of fluff into the air. Rating: 6

Willow Very fast growth. Good hedge. Brittle wood breaks in heavy snowfall, ice storms. Sheds leaves and small twigs in storms. Females shed windblown seed. Hedge types easy to rejuvinate with chainsaw haircut. Rating 5

Mountain Ash Produces large cluster of berries that fall off in clusters. Messy tree that way. Best when NOT overhanging a deck, patio, or driveway because of the falling berry clusters. Birds will love you for having one. Fairly short lived.

Maple Can be a magnificent tree, but they get aphids. The tree doesn’t care. Aphid crap is sticky and will make surfaces moldy. Do NOT put your picnic table; do not park your Lamborghini under a maple tree. Silver and Sugar maple get really large, Manitoba Maple only gets big. The rest are small to medium trees. Sugar Maple 8; Manitoba and Silver 6, Hotwings, Amur, Tatarian, 9

Hawthorn Small tree with attractive white flowers in spring. Some have no fruit. All have thorns. You will want to prune it out of reach as it grows up, but after that it is care free. Ones with fruit will hold onto their fruit until taken by birds. Rating 8

Oaks Slow growing. Shade tolerant. Red oak group (pointy leaves) tend to be intolerant of alkali soils. Rating 8.

Walnuts Slow growing. Leaves poisonous to many other plants and to horses. Rating 6


Fairly care free. Requires water all its life, but siting it near a downspout or roadside ditch, or low spot is often sufficient. Catkins produce tiny seeds (under 1 mm) all winter, which grouse and chickadees are fond of. Short lived. Good short term tree. Rating 9.

Plastic These trees are wonderful. No leaf raking, no bug pests, no diseases, year round foliage. Very drought tolerant, also shade tolerant. Slow growth rate. Only downside is their slow response to damage, and fading from sunlight. Rating 9.


Lilacs Require annual pruning after bloom to look good. Chainsaw haircut when they look ratty. Rating 7

Ninebark Dogwood Prune half the new growth off annually.

WolfWillow, Silver Buffaloberry, Sea Buckthorn Prune half new growth annually. Chainsaw haircut when they look ratty.

Hardy Roses Hardiness varies. Some subject to powdery mildew, sooty mildew. Deadhead blooms for more vigour. Prune hard in fall. Rewarding. Rating 3

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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.