Q: Have you ever heard of Aus-trees? They are a hybrid and are supposed to be super fast-growing and good for shade and windbreaks. Will they do well here in Georgia?
A: The Austree is heavily promoted through the mail and by magazine advertisements as being the solution to shade problems. They are actually a hybrid willow and, as such, do grow rapidly. However, rapid growth usually produces weak branches and hybrid willows are no exception. These trees can grow six feet per year but they are “messy”. They constantly drop small and large twigs and the roots constantly send up sprouts under the tree. Willows are a favorite food of tent caterpillars and they are susceptible to canker diseases. They have some potential as a windbreak or a privacy screen if you have a very large property but they are definitely not good landscape shade trees.