Q: I am interested in planting some dogwood trees (for beauty) and some water oaks (for shade) in my yard. Are these good choices? When would be the best time to plant these trees?
A: Theresa Schrum replies: “Both the water oak (Quercus nigra) and the dogwood (Cornus florida) are very nice native trees.
The water oak with its abundance of leaves and acorns may not be a good choice if you have a lawn nearby. It makes a wonderful woodland tree or for a lawn-free garden. If you don’t mind raking or mowing the leaves off the lawn, it makes a great tree.
If you prefer not, may I suggest using a pin oak (Quercus palustris) which often hold their brown leaves until spring, when there is much less leaf litter from other trees to deal with. They are also fairly fast growing, for oaks, that is.
The dogwood tree grows naturally as an understory tree beneath larger shade trees and therefore prefers a partially shaded location. You can plant almost all trees and shrubs in fall. In Georgia, it’s the summer that kills most plants. I would not plant any big trees after late February.