Small Shade Tree & Plants Dying

Question:

I'm currently re-doing my backyard. Can you suggest a colorful shade tree that would grow to ten feet in small space?  

Answer:

  • I’m not sure there is a tree that meets your requirements. A true ‘shade tree’ grows much taller than ten feet. So, your criteria needs to be revised. In addition, you’ll need to control the height of whatever you choose by pruning in annually.
  • My favorite small tree is Arbutus unedo Marina. The upright branches are covered with a smooth mahogany colored bark. In the summer the bark peels off to expose next years bark that is  a cinnamon color. It has dark green leaves and can be kept to around twelve feet with pruning.
    • Arbutus is one of the few evergreen trees that flower in the fall as well as the spring with clusters of rosy pink urn-shaped flowers. The flowers turn into a red and orange color fruits, and that gives Arbutus unedo Marina its common name the Marina Strawberry Tree.
    • They are edible but mealy, so it is an acquired taste.
  •  My second choice is Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica. They are perfect for small yards and bloom during the summer months.
    • They’re available in white, pink, lavender/purple and red flowers. The leaves turn color in the fall before dropping, so you get a second show of color.
    • The Mildew resistant variety is recommended where there is a strong marine influence during the summer months.
    • Pruning them during the winter months controls the height. They can be severely pruned for a tight bushy canopy or lightly to give it an open, airy look.  And finally, I’d add
  •  Japanese Maple to the list.  Anyone of these should do fine in as

Question:

Over the past two years, three of my five newly planted Correa ‘Carmine Bells’ have died and number four is nearly gone. The leaves begin by turning yellow, becomes sparse, and finally, the plant is so weak and pathetic that I remove it. What is my problem?  

Answer:

  •  I really should have more information, but it sure sounds like the plants were planted too deep and or buried in the ground. Plants that struggle to grow and then die off suddenly is a symptom.
    • The problem starts at planting. Typically, we dig bowl shape holes with the plant near or at the bottom of the hole with a watering basin around it
    • . The surrounding soil from the basin then collapses in on top of the original root ball from watering and the rains. Any time there is a half an inch or more above the original rootball there going to be problems.
    • Plants growing a slope experience this from soil erosion. It’s a slow death as the plants struggle to survive.
    • When planting a new plant, the original root ball should be above the soil line or grade. This allows for settling without the plant being buried. With an existing plant 

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