We want to put Leland pine trees around our property line where the soil stays pretty wet; what kind of trees would you use?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Oakley in Tennessee: I am glad you asked about planting suggestions before you invested the time and money to install Leyland cypress (I assume this is what you were referring to). These evergreens have a reputation for breaking during any inclement weather due to their growth habit. The also have very brittle wood that makes them more susceptible to injury from wind/ice and whatever else Mother Nature shakes up. Not to mention, they do not tolerate poorly drained soils. I assume you are gardening in clay soil and the more compact it is the longer it takes for excess moisture to be absorbed. This may not be the best choice for your perimeter planting. You did not mention any shade concerns so I am going to assume that this area receives full sun to part shade. If you are looking specifically for an evergreen that will provide year-round interest you might consider either Thuja occidentalis (Eastern arborvitae) or Chamaecyparis thyoides (Southern white cedar); both of these are native trees and will tolerate wet soils. The arborvitae will reach 40-60 feet tall and 15-20 wide at maturity. The Chamaecyparis will reach 50 feet tall and 10-20 feet wide. If you want deciduous tree options, both Taxodium distichum ‘Shawnee Brave’ (bald cypress) and Betula nigra (river birch) would be good choices.