Most of the trees in Melbourne and the greater NSW area are of the evergreen variety. They keep their leaves all year long and rarely exhibit dramatic colors (aside from some a handful of flamboyant flower-producers). While evergreen trees certainly provide great value for local residents and businesses, they can leave you wanting a little more flash.
But that doesn’t have to be the case, and you can actually add a few trees from distant lands to help provide some color to your yard and neighborhood – at least during the autumn. There are a variety of trees that can thrive in our region, which display eye-popping color for a month or so each year.
Most such trees hail from North America, but many are available right here in Melbourne. If you choose good species for your property and have them installed by experienced tree-care professionals (like your friends at Trav’s Tree Service), you’ll be able to enjoy some natural fireworks each autumn.
The following four species are among the best choices:
1.Sweetgum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Sweetgum trees produce remarkably beautiful colors, which often differ from leaf to leaf. Gold, orange, red, maroon and purple tones are typically present to some degree, making these trees the focal point of any property.
Unrelated to our native gums, sweetgums are natives of the southeastern United States. Although they are frequently seen in low-lying areas with relatively poorly drained soils, they are adaptable trees, who can also thrive in upland environments with rapid drainage.
Sweetgums are big trees, which can reach 30 meters in height (and occasionally much higher), and they have rather invasive root systems. Accordingly, you’ll want to avoid planting them too close to your home, driveway or sidewalks and refrain from planting them near overhead utility lines too.
Sweetgums produce copious quantities of woody fruits, colloquially termed gumballs. These can be quite irritating to homeowners, so consider purchasing the ‘Rotundiloba’ cultivar, which does not produce fruit.
2. Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)
Crepe myrtles were originally native to India, but they can now be found in gardens, residences and commercial lots worldwide. There are an unthinkable number of cultivated varieties and hybrids available, meaning that there is a crepe myrtle for just about any need you may have.
While some crepe myrtles are deciduous, relatively few produce good autumn color. However, at least one hybrid – the Indian Summer ® crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x L. fauriei ‘Sioux’) – bears incredibly vibrant red foliage in the Autumn.
Many crepe myrtles exhibit a shrub-like growth habit, but Indian Summer ® crepe myrtles typically exhibit a more tree-like growth habit, with a central leader (trunk). They grow to about 3 or 4 meters in height and they spread out for about 3 meters, so they are perfectly suited for small planting areas.
Crepe myrtles are perhaps best known for their remarkable flowers (whose petals resemble colorful crepe paper), so they produce great color for a long period of the year.
3. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
The red maple is another North American native that is famous for its fantastic autumn colors. Very adaptable trees, red maples are well-suited for the Melbourne area. They typically grow in areas with relatively high amounts of annual rainfall in their native lands, but once established they are moderately drought tolerant.
Reaching heights of about 10 to 12 meters, the red maple is big enough to make a good shade tree, yet it still remains small enough to fit in most yards and commercial properties. It has a round or oval canopy, although co-dominant stems are occasionally seen on some specimens, which often gives the tree a narrower crown.
Red maples usually produce red foliage in the autumn, but some trees will produce gold, yellow or orange leaves instead. There are a number of cultivars available, many of which consistently produce a given color.
Red maples have relatively weak wood, so you don’t want to plant one over your driveway or in places that see a lot of foot traffic. They may also be poor choices for areas plagued by strong winds.
If you’d like some help adding more color to your property, give us a call. We’d love to assess your property and provide some recommendations. We can even help procure and install the trees, taking the problem off your hands entirely. So don’t wait, the sooner you plant them, the sooner you can start enjoying glorious autumn color in the Melbourne area.