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Sunday - September 13, 2009

From: Wilmingfton, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade tree for cemetery in Wilmington DE
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We are looking for a shade tree for a cemetery in Delaware. The tree will be planted only a few feet from some existing gravesites. What trees would you recommend that will not interfere with the gravesites?


"Shade tree" infers a large, spreading tree, but what you don't see is that the roots of that tree will spread to possibly three times the diameter of the top of the tree. When you look at a mature tree and see its "dripline" or where the shadow of the tree falls, envision roots going on three times that diameter. There are several types of trees that begin with a taproot, but develop surface roots, where most of the nutrients and moisture are as the tree matures. The majority of tree roots are in the top 12" of the soil and, in their quest for space, will often form a mat of roots close to the surface. When you are planning a new property, you can allow for the mature size of the tree, and place structures accordingly. But when you have a fixed area in which those trees can be planted, your best (perhaps your only) choice is for a smaller ornamental tree. We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, and search for trees native not only to Delaware, but to New Castle Co. Since you did not say what the soil, moisture availability or amount of sun you have, we will select several different trees you might consider. Follow the plant links to the webpage on each individual tree, read its expected size and needs to flourish. From that, you can make your own choices, or go back to the Recommended Species and select other trees that suit your purposes better. In Delaware, this is probably the time to be planting, before cold weather sets in, or you could wait for Spring. In either case, arrangements should be made for the trees to be regularly watered until they are established, unless there are consistent rains.

Trees native to Delaware for a cemetery

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Chionanthus virginicus (white fringetree)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

From the Native Plant Image Gallery

Carpinus caroliniana

Cercis canadensis

Chionanthus virginicus

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Diospyros virginiana

Ilex opaca

Prunus americana

Sassafras albidum






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