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Great and good are seldom the same man.
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Lodgepole Pine in yard

My first year I put in a double curved row of lodgepole in my yard. These trees are about seven years old.

Lodgepole Pine

Pinus contorta var latifolia

Lodgepole seedlings

This is how they arrive: A bundle is 15 seedlings, each one 6-10 inches tall.

Lodgepole pine candle

Then that bud at the top lengthens to a 'candle' It will grow an inch a day for a few days.

Three year old Lodge pole

Three foot lodgepole pine.

Lodgepole Pine Distribution

Use this map as a guide. If you in the white bit, or near the edge, try with a few pines at first. Water them 2-3 times a summer.

Lodgepole pine is Jack's older brother. Not nearly as wild. Most of the time will follow the straight and narrow.

Lodgepole are the narrowest pines I grow. At maturity they will about 12-18 feet wide grown in the open. In a stand they will be only a few feet wide.

Lodgepole makes a good shelterbelt tree for about 30 years. Then the bottom branches start to look a bit ratty -- they are shaded by their neighbours. Set it far enough back from the road or driveway so that when the bottom starts to look bad, you can put a row of something shrubby in front of them to hide the lower bit.

You can avoid/postpone this problem by planting the trees 20 feet apart, and trimming ratty branches as they occur. Normally you will have branches with needles on the top 2/3 of the tree.

This is a fast growing tree, doing about 2 feet a year with neglect. You will get a much fuller tree with somewhat faster growth if you water it twice a summer.

Sun: Full sun preferred. I have a couple that get about 4 hours of shad from a nearby manitoba maple. Initally it didn't seem to make much differnce, but I notice now that they are smaller and quicker to drop lower branches.

Water: Water while establishing. Watering once a summer in July, and again in late August during dry years. Water deeply when you do.

Soil: Pretty tolerant of crap soil. Avoid low lying areas that take longer to dry out in the spring. In my yard there are a few that are about 2 feet below the driveway. They are unhappy. The ones only a few inches higher in elevation do much better due to better drainage. Avoid wet clay soils. Should be based at least 3 vertical feet above a stream, pond or water feature.

Hardiness zone: Zone 2, or zone 1.

Fertilizer: Fertilize lightly (1/4 to 1/2 standard dose) once a year in late fall or early spring.

Native Range: Gravelly soils in the foothills, and on glacial till into central Alberta. I suspect non-native in eastern Alberta due to grass fires, and drier conditions. In southern Alberta the limit seems to be about the 500 mm average rainfall line. In northern Alberta doesn't need as much water due to cooler temperatures. In northeastern Alberta it's replaced by Jack Pine.

Shelterbelt Use

If you are in sandy soils you may be able to use lodgepole as part of your shelterbelt. If you are on the prairie, get a band of shrubs established first. This will protect the pines while they get established. Pine do not compete with grass well when young. Maintain a 3-4 foot bare earth strip until trees are 6 feet tall. When you are ready to let vegetation back in try a mix of dutch while clover and sheeps fescue.

See also Ideas > Shelterbelts

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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.