Ten Tough Trees

Plagued by heavy, clay soil and layers of hardpan? Are there areas of your yard that take several days to absorb rainwater? If so, consider these tough trees that don't mind temporary bouts of wintertime "wet feet." Remember, though: improving the drainage of such areas before planting will help these trees perform at their best.



* Tupelo or sour gum (Nyssa sylvatica). 30-40 feet tall with a spread of 15-30 feet. Excellent fall color, a good lawn tree and tolerates wet areas with poor drainage.




* Common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). 40-50 feet tall and wide. This tree is the fastest grower in our yard. Not much for fall color, and the small, hard berries can be treacherous to walk on.



* Chanticleer pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer'). Pyramidal shaped, 30-40 feet tall with a spread of 15 feet. White flowers in the spring, reddish leaves in the fall. Can develop small, inedible fruit after a few years.





* Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). This evergreen can get to 70 feet tall with a spread of 30 feet in the home garden. Wider at the bottom, so it is not recommended as a lawn tree.



* Flowering crabapple (Malus). 15-25 feet tall and wide. White, pink or red flowers in the late winter as well as red/orange leaves in the fall make this tree a good choice for small, damp areas.

* London Plane tree (Platanus acerifolia). 40-60 feet tall and wide. A big tree for a big area. "Bloodgood" variety is resistant to anthracnose disease; "Yarwood" is resistant to powdery mildew.

* Red maple (Acer rubrum). 40-60 feet tall and wide with excellent fall color, especially the "Red Sunset" and October Glory" varieties.

* Italian alder (Alnus cordata). 35-40 feet tall, with a 20-40 feet spread. A good choice for sun or shade, but roots may be shallow and invasive. Best planted at least 40 feet away from lawns, concrete and sewer lines.

* River birch (Betula nigra). 50-90 feet tall with a spread to 30 feet. The distinctive flaking bark gives this tree much winter interest, revealing shades of cinnamon, salmon and brown.

* Beefwood or horsetail (Casuarina equisetifolia). 40-50 feet tall, 15-20 feet wide. This evergreen tree with drooping branches bears a strong resemblance to pine trees. Also useful as a windbreak.