From the ground up….by Andrew Gerachis (Andrew is a member of The Waters Team, a Waters Resident and a Master Gardener)
Properly selected, trees set the tone in the landscape contributing to “sense of place.” Trees guide the eye down a path or street, frame views up close or in the distance and soften building lines. This has been one of the design goals of The Waters – to build a new community within the fabric of an existing landscape. One of the things that sets The Waters apart from other neighborhoods is that we are clearly seen as far more than a bunch of new houses just sprouting up in the middle of a cotton field.
Street tree selections at The Waters were drawn predominantly from the canvas of those tree species already present in the natural landscape. Those that have been planted are consistent in form, texture and color to what is already here. Indeed, over time it has become difficult to pick out what trees were planted in the median of the Avenue of The Waters and which were already there. Walking down Bright Spot Street the trees contribute to the feeling that the houses have been there for many years.
Our prairie soil is the most limiting factor in tree selection at The Waters. Not every tree species thrives in the heavy clay that is found here. In both nature and in our yards oaks are the predominant species, followed closely by hickory, elm, gum and hackberry. Even within those limited groups we enjoy tremendous diversity. The following publication from the Alabama Extension Service helps you to identify many of these trees http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0509/ANR-0509.pdf
Want to make a great selection for your own yard? The following list includes trees that are readily available from local nurseries and which can be found at The Waters. Those which are less common may be available as seedlings on Arbor Day, transplanted as small trees or started from seed.
In the oak family, consider planting willow oak, shumard oak, overcup oak, nuttall oak, bur oak, sawtooth oak or swamp white oak in your yard. Not widely available, black gum is well adapted to wet sites and sports glossy red foliage in early fall. Shagbark, pignut and mockernut hickories sport buttery yellow foliage in fall and can easily be started from seed. Chinese elms such as ‘Allee,’ ‘Bosque’ and ‘Drake’ grow well in the neighborhood and are great climbing trees for kids. Our state tree, the longleaf pine is beautiful as a young tree and majestic as a mature tree. In summary, there are a number of wonderful choices for trees in your yard. Andrew Gerachis, a resident of The Waters, is a former extension agent with VA Cooperative Extension and spends much of his free time growing “green stuff” in his garden on the Avenue of The Waters.